A Tale of Two Presidential Portraits

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Night owl surveyor of all things Interweb Leland Park ’63, Library Director Emeritus, checks in overnight via e-mail from Ney Circle in Olde Davidsone with a tidbit: The portrait of George W. Bush unveiled yesterday at the White House was created by none other than the artist John Howard Sanden, who painted the portrait of Davidson’s 15th president, John Wells Kuykendall. Who knew?

Upon closer interrogation of Sharon Byrd in E.H. Littles Archives and Special Collections, a related story emerges: Years ago, while the Sanden portrait of JWK was in super-secure storage in the library basement awaiting its unveiling on the presidential wall upstairs, somehow a hole got poked in it. Pow, right in the kisser, all the way through the canvas. A cigarette would have fit there nicely. So, Leland spirited the objet outta there in the dead of night and conveyed it to Charlotte for super-secret restorations, and then swore library staffers to secrecy for good measure. Only years later did he share the story with JWK himself, and finally here now the tale passes into the public domain of Davidson lore’n’legend.

For more on Davidson history, check out Around the D. For even more, on both college and town history, check out One Town, Many Voices by College Archivist Jan Blodgett and Vail Professor of History Ralph Levering, newly released by the Davidson Historical Society.

  1. Maddie

    this is my favorite Daybook yet! Thanks John!!

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