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Stockbridge Family Has Strong Ties to Heroic Sculptor

Tammy Daniels

We had a chance to meet G. Marie Bidwell Leuchs at the rededication of the Pittsfield war memorial on Monday. Leuchs is the niece of H. Augustus Lukeman, the sculptor who created the paen to the city's World War I veterans back in 1926.

Marie Bidwell Leuchs, left, Catherine Bohrman and David LaRocca in front of Lukeman's Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

She and her daughter, Catherine Leuchs Bohrman, were noted in the crowd who attended the ceremony as being a link to the well-known artist.

Leuchs is actually the niece of Lukeman's wife, Helen Bidwell, who died in 1971 at the age of 82. She outlived her husband by 36 years; he died in 1935 at age 64. The couple had no children, said Leuchs.

The Bidwell and Leuchs families appear to have adopted his legacy, and the Leuchs donated his papers to the Smithsonian Institute.

The Bidwell name has deep roots in New England (John Bidwell being a founder of Hartford, Conn.) and are descendants of the Rev. Adonijah Bidwell, Tyringham's first minister and namesake of Bidwell House and Museum.

(Oddly enough, when we popped Bidwell House into Google we got a link to another Bidwell House, named for a John who searched for gold at Sutter's Mill and married a Kennedy — not that one — from Massachusetts.)

Lukeman married into the old Berkshire family and also studied with Daniel Chester French. It's not surprising that he settled into Stockbridge and built a studio in Glendale, where French built Chesterwood, his summer home and studio.

Lukeman also sculpted the McKinley statue in Adams in 1903 and an old Berkshire Eagle article notes he was incorrectly described as a "Stockbridge native" at the time. He actually hailed from Richmond, Va., and would spend a few years working on the Stone Mountain memorial to the heroes of the Confederacy.

Leuchs stands to be recognized.

The Leuchs share the same zeal for artistry — Marie Leuch's late husband Frederick was a noted stained-glass expert who operated out of Lukeman's studio on Lukeman Lane for a time. Their daughter Catherine is a sculptor and works in bronze, although her pieces are far more abstract and intimate than Lukeman's heroic Beaux Arts works. You can see her collection here.

They were rightly proud of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and took a moment to have their photo taken in front of it with artist David LaRocca of Watertown. LaRocca sculpted the missing laurel leaves, rifle strap and bayonet lost through time and vandalism. It took about six months of careful fitting and crafting to integrate the pieces seamlessly into the work, he said.

"I wanted to please Augustus Lukeman," said LaRocca.

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