George Laurence Nelson
George Laurence Nelson lived at Seven Hearths, in the Flanders section of Kent, from 1919 until his death in 1978. He wrote a small book about his love affair with the house, entitled New Life for Old Timber, which was published by the Kent Historical Society in 1982. At the end of the book, following Nelson’s account of his years in the house, the society added the following text from the eulogy given at Nelson’s funeral by his friend, the Rev. William Dolan Fletcher:
“February 6, 1978 marked the end of an era at ‘Seven Hearths’ because on that day George Laurence Nelson died. ‘Seven Hearths’ had seen many a tenant since its building in 1751 but none had been so devoted, none so interesting in personality, none so committed to everything that ‘Seven Hearths’ had meant over two centuries.”
“Nelson was born George Laurence Hirschberg in New Rochelle, NY, on September 26, 1887, the son of Carl and Alice Kerr-Nelson Hirschberg, and the youngest of three brothers. His parents were artists of no little repute in both the American and European art scenes.
Before he finished his education, he became one of the prime movers and shakers in the American Art movement, first as reorganizer of the Art Students League and then as co-founder of the Salmagundi Club in 1875. As a young man, he went to Paris to study under Alexandre Cabanel whose influence he would pass on to his youngest son – classical design, modern media, timeless mood.
While in Paris he met another young artist, one from London, named Alice Kerr-Nelson, and in 1881 they were married. After the birth of their first son, Carl Nelson Hirschberg, they returned to the United States in 1884. Working together as a team, the Carl Hirschbergs would set the pattern for American design in calendars, fashion literature, painting in oil and water color and etching.”