Monadnock Moments No. 86: On the Wings of an Angel
Larkin G. Mead was born in Chesterfield, New Hampshire in January of 1835. The Mead family moved across the river to Brattleboro when young Larkin was four years of age. As a boy he displayed a taste for art and was constantly drawing and sculpting.
After studying under a sculptor in New York for a short time in the 1850s, Mead returned to Brattleboro and began to teach drawing at the old town hall. Late in 1856 he conceived an idea for a bit of fun to bring in the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, three days before his 22nd birthday, Larkin Mead sculpted an angel of snow in downtown Brattleboro. With two friends as assistants, he worked late into the night sculpting his angel alongside North Main Street. Mead inspected the sculpture by lantern when he was finished and, satisfied with his work, went home to bed. Little did he realize that this “Snow Angel” was about to change his life!
The next day the residents of Brattleboro were astounded by the remarkable beauty of this sculpture of snow. Word of the snow angel spread and crowds gathered to view the work. The story of the angel was recorded in local newspapers and eventually in New York papers. The story was reported across the country and as far away as Spain. Shortly thereafter, Nicholas Longworth of Cincinnati commissioned Mead to sculpt his snow angel in Vermont marble. Many other commissions soon followed and Mead was on his way to fame.
Among his more famous works are the sculptures “Vermont” and “Ethan Allan” that adorn the Vermont State House, and the series of sculptures on the Lincoln Monument in Springfield, Illinois. Larkin G. Mead, the native of Chesterfield, became one of the best known sculptors of his day.