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Virginia Huntington Robie (1878-1957):

Writer and Artist

On October 18, 1878, Virginia Dare (Pendleton), wife of Reverend Thomas Sargent Robie, gave birth to Virginia Huntington in Salmon Falls, New Hampshire.  Virginia Robie received her preparatory education in Boston, Massachusetts’ Newberry Seminary, various public and private schools, the School of Decorative Design at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the School of Decorative Design and Applied Ornament at the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois.  In 1903, Robie became the associate editor for the publication House Beautiful until 1913, when she became the department editor for Keith magazine.  She served in this capacity until 1924.  Robie also authored a substantial number of written works, often focusing on artistic topics, such as Historic Styles in Furniture (1904 and 1916), By-paths in Collecting (1912), Quest of the Quaint (1916 to 1927), Sketches of Manatee (1920), The New Architectural Development in Florida (1922), The Story of Coral Gavels (1923), A Century of Miniature Painting (1939), Baroque: A Second Blooming (1941), Looking Backward (1947), and the roughly biographical Pennyroyal (1953).  In addition, Robie wrote fairytales, several children’s plays, dozens of book reviews, and contributed to publications such as Country Life, Century Magazine, International Studio, House and Garden, Ladies’ Home Journal, the World Book Encyclopedia, and Legion d’Honneur.  She participated in many organizations, such as the Pen and Brush of New York, Chicago Woman’s Club, Orlando Art Association, Allied Arts, Shamrock League (as president) and, as an honorary member, Sorosis in Orlando.  Her interests included American and Chinese porcelains, as well as medieval manuscripts.

At Hamilton Holt’s request, Robie became associated with Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, in 1928.  She served as a special lecturer in the Winter School.  From 1928 to 1929 (and then again in 1944), she taught art.  Robie then became Rollins’ official interior decorator, while functioning as assistant professor of art (instructing in its history and appreciation) from 1932 until 1938.  Utilizing her expertise in color and design, Robie furnished the female dormitories, such as Pugsley and Mayflower Halls (to the latter of she also contributed a piece of Plymouth Rock), promoting the development of the College’s Mediterranean style.  Her skilled work earned her praise from the College and the Florida community.  From 1938 until 1944, she served as the associate professor of art and, after she resigned, she received the title of professor emeritus of art, which she held until her death in 1957.  She also held the title of chairman of the division of expressive arts from 1939 to 1940.  Robie felt herself fortunate to have stayed at Rollins, owing to such reasons as the president’s ideals, the Florida climate, and the close relationship between the College and Winter Park.  In turn, Robie received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan medallion on June 3, 1935 for her dedicated work on the Rollins campus.  Her brother, Thomas Sargent Robie, with whom she lived during her retirement in Fort Myers Florida, survived her, and Rollins received a table, some china, a box of crosses, and several books from her estate.

- Angelica Garcia

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