Clarendon Historical Society plans another big birthday party for famous son

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Courtesy of the Orleans Hub

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2015
CLARENDON – The Clarendon Historical Society threw a 150th birthday party for Carl Akeley last May. About 150 people turned out for the event that featured the author of a book about Akeley’s life.

Jay Kirk wrote “Kingdom Under Glass,” a book that traced Akeley’s upbringing on Hinds Road in Clarendon, when he started “stuffing” birds and small animals. By his early 20s he was becoming a legend after stuffing the enormous elephant Jumbo.

Akeley made many safaris to Africa, including with Teddy Roosevelt and George Eastman. The Clarendon native became an advocate for preserving Africa’s wildlife.

Many of his elephants, lions, rhinos and gorillas are displayed in New York City at the American Museum of Natural History. That museum includes the “Akeley Hall of African Mammals.”

The retired director of the Akeley Hall is the keynote speaker on Wednesday for the 151st birthday celebration for Akeley. Stephen Quinn discuss Akeley’s life and his impact during the 7 p.m. event at the Holley Middle School/High School Auditorium at 16880 Lynch Rd.

“He’s the most famous person we have in Clarendon,” said Erin Anheier, a member of the Historical Society. “We had a big turnout last year for the 150th. That tells us there is a lot of interest in Carl Akeley.”

She and two other members visited the Akeley Hall in New York City last year and met Quinn. He shared some of the archives at the museum about Akeley.

Quinn is recently retired from the American Museum of Natural History. He will relate his experiences traveling to the eastern Congo basin to visit the exact site depicted in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals’ mountain gorilla diorama which is based on paintings, photographs, and specimens collected in the field by Carl Akeley and his team in 1921 and 1926.

Like the artists on Akeley’s 1926 expedition, Quinn used field sketches and paintings to document the area’s flora and fauna, recording the changes that have taken place and reinforcing the important role artists play in habitat conservation and environmental education.

Wednesday’s program is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Clarendon Town Hall at 585-638-6371 ext. 104.

“This will be a very interesting program,” Anheier said.

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