Part Four of “History through Eugene’s eyes”:
Several of Eugene’s prints have historical significance in Winchester, VA & surrounding counties. He likes to photograph the area as well as the main subject to get a feel for the history of the spot. Quite often he will go back to the chosen site at different times of the day to record where the shadows fall, which give his paintings that unique Eugene B. Smith look. His interest in the history of our area compel him to research each site before he paints: to absorb the history of it and perhaps to impart that history through his brush into the painting.
Judge John Handley was born January 27th, 1835 in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland. He became a U.S. citizen in New York in 1856, and eventually moved to Scranton, PA where he practiced law. He began visiting Winchester, VA, in 1869. When John Handley died in 1895, he was buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Winchester and left what eventually amounted to over a million dollars to the City of Winchester to build a public library and a public high school. It is one of the few public schools in the country that is privately endowed.
Construction of John Handley High School was started in 1922 & finished in 1923. The architect, W. R. McCornack of Cleveland, Ohio, followed a motif of the buildings of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, designed by Thomas Jefferson. It stands on a promontory which makes it visible some distance away on many of the approaches to the city and affords from its portico a magnificent view of the Blue Ridge mountains and the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley for many miles.
Winchester Public Schools students gather in Mount Hebron Cemetery every spring for an annual pilgrimage to his tomb to lay flowers & give thanks to this benefactor.