Peabody Singing Tower

 North Manchester, Indiana

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of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.

Volume XXIV Number 2 May 2007

Max and Sally Allen

Max and Sally Allen were prime movers in the beginning and in the development of the North Manchester Historical Society. So it is very appropriate to review their lives and their contributions to this town, the Historical Society and to the broader field of art and music.

Sally Mertz was born in Burnettsville, Indiana, the daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Newcomer Mertz. She graduated from Burnettsville High School and majored in Art and Music at Manchester College. She later studied at John Herron Art Institute, Art Institute of Chicago, Universidad de Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico, International Summer School, University of Oslo, Norway and Ball State University.

Sally taught public school at Burnettsville and Idaville for 2 yrs, at Manchester College 9 years, at Syracuse, Indiana 2 years and 20 years in Chester Township, Wabash County and North Manchester Public Schools. Her creative interests were especially focused on stitchery, spinning, vegetable dyeing of animal fibers and silver smithing and jewelry.

Max Allen was born in Huntington, Indiana the son of William Melvin (Mel) and Eurilla Clara Fry Allen. He graduated from Huntington High School and then from Manchester College with majors in Music, Art, Biology and English. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago and a Masters of Fine Arts from Indiana University with majors in ceramics and silver smithing. He later studied at Universidad de Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico, Saterglanten Weaving School in Sweden, Arrowmont School of Crafts in Gatlinburg Tennessee.

Max taught in Whitley County Public Schools for two years, and at Manchester College beginning in 1939 until his retirement, moving into Sally's position. During these years he held painting classes in many nearby towns, lectured for several seasons at the Ft. Wayne Art Museum and taught ceramics and silver smithing at Indiana University Summer School one summer.

He was especially interested in spinning, vegetable dyeing, weaving and ceramics. His love of music continued through his life and many remember the delightful piano duets with Prof. Genita Speicher. He also directed and/or sang in the Methodist Church choir for many years. One special piano concert at Peabody Chapel honored Lucille Everett who was Max's first piano teacher.

Both Max and Sally often appeared in Art shows or special school events to demonstrate the process of dyeing, carding, spinning many kinds of wool . They looked for a variety of dyestuffs in the countryside and used a variety of mordants such as tin, vinegar, copper sulfate, chromium and alum. The excitement of the colors that resulted never dulled. The biology study which Max did in College make it possible for him to recognize berries, barks and plants that could be used.

Max and Sally were art historians. Max taught art history at the College for 39 years. That interest took them to a very special project in 1983. Sally first heard of Dan Garber, artist from his niece, Mrs. Andrew Cordier, whose husband taught at Manchester College before he went to the United Nations. Then when Dan Garber came to Manchester to do a painting of L. D. Ikenberry they met him in person.

Dan Garber was born into a large family in 1880 on a farm south of North Manchester.

Later, the family moved to Singer Road across from the covered bridge. He graduated from high school here and then went to study at the Cincinnati Art Academy at age 17. Further study was at the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

Garber won a prize to study in Europe and after two years there he returned to Pennsylvania in 1907. He spent the rest of his life there, living on his farm, occasionally visiting North Manchester and painting many landscapes of the Lambertville-New Hope area. He was known as one of the New Hope artists named for the area. His paintings hang in every major American museum. His painting called, "Mother and Son" is one of the more famous ones.

This artist is of special interest to us for two reasons: his early life in North Manchester and the painting he did of L. D. Ikenberry who was the early long-time treasurer and business manager of Manchester College. Ikenberry's portrait hangs at the College and several years ago when a definitive biography was being prepared the College was asked to supply pictures of the painting.

After much research, the Allens prepared a presentation for a meeting of the Historical Society, an article for the Society Newsletter and were interviewed for a newspaper article.

Max and Sally contributed to the town in many other ways. They prepared special displays at FunFest, frequently were involved in projects to beautify the town and urged that historic buildings be preserved or restored.

Their three children were all involved in art in some way: teaching, jewelry creation, ceramics, macrame, and weaving. Max and Sally spent retirement years at Timbercrest where Sally died in March, 1994 and Max in June, 2002.

We are thankful for their many contributions.