Christmas Card Time!

Are you a big fan of giving and receiving Christmas cards this time of year? Sometimes it feels like the only thing we get in the mail anymore is bills and random coupons we never asked for. However, this time of year, it is always a pleasure to receive a special card, hand-picked and signed with a warm greeting of the season. In our modern era, we can snap family photos with our smartphones and send the images off to be made into personalized cards or grab a giant box of various mass produced cards that we think look pretty. Or how about getting a local artist to make you some personalized cards? Plenty of locals in Poughkeepsie did this in the 1920s and 30s with our local artist, Thomas W. Barrett Jr.

As we have mentioned in previous posts, Thomas W. Barrett Jr. was born in Poughkeepsie in 1902 and studied art in Boston at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. He lived and worked for a short time in New York City in the mid 1920s, before coming home to Poughkeepsie and moving back in with his family in their home at 55 Noxon St. It was during the late 1920s and into the 30s that Barrett discovered the art of woodblock printing. The art form began in China several centuries ago, and by the time Barrett began his venture into it, the Art Deco movement was in full swing, which heavily inspired much of his designs.

Barrett was commissioned by friends, family, and some prominent Poughkeepsie locals to design custom Christmas cards and bookplates, which he sketched out first and then cut into the woodblocks in order to mass produce the prints. He designed cards for locals like Mr. and Mrs. John M. Bush, and Ada Simpson. Many of his custom designed cards featured recognizable local pieces of architecture, like 3 Barclay Street; at the time it was the home of Irene and Halsey Wyckoff. Another example is the grand house at 8 Garfield Place, which belonged to Mrs. Herbert R. Gurney at the time. Interestingly, Barrett designed a card for another house that we have mentioned in a previous blog post, 140 Academy Street, which is no longer standing. The house was owned by none other than Arthur G. Smith, the President of Smith Brothers Cough Drops here in Poughkeepsie, and designed by the architectural firm of Jackson and Rosencrans (who designed the Y.M.C.A building which still stands on Market Street, or at least its facade does).

If you want to see more of Barrett’s collection of woodblock prints, there are several currently on display in the Main Floor glass case here at Adriance Memorial Library. We also have many of his paintings and drawings on display throughout the library until December 31. Come and check it out, but don’t forget to get those Christmas cards in the mail before it’s too late!


Barrett/DCAA Collection- PPLD  LH Collections


Barrettcard-001- Christmas card made for Mr. and Mrs. John M. Bush by Thomas W. Barrett Jr.

Barrettcard-002- Christmas card made for Ada Simpson by Thomas W. Barrett Jr.

Barrettcard-003- Christmas card made for Irene and Halsey Wyckoff by Thomas W. Barrett Jr.

Barrettcard-004- Christmas card made for Mr and Mrs. Arthur G. Smith by Thomas W. Barrett Jr.

Barrettcard-005- Two different Christmas cards made by Thomas W. Barrett Jr.

Barrettcard-006- Christmas card made for  Mrs. Herbert R. Gurney by Thomas W. Barrett Jr.