Hemenway, Mary

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Mary Hemenway (1820-1894) was a New York native who married Augustus Hemenway (1805-1876) of Boston and Salem. She worked as a significant sponsor of preservation and education projects in Boston, Salem and beyond. She is credited with saving the Old South Meeting House in Boston, almost single-handedly.

In Salem, Mrs. Mary Hemenway owned all of Forest River Park and introduced a museum on the property, called the Hemenway Museum. The focus of this museum was specimens of Native American pottery, stonework and artwork from the Southwest, brought back from the archaeological explorations of New Mexico and Arizona she sponsored. She partnered with Frank Hamilton Cushing of the National Museum in Washington, D.C. to study the Zunis between 1879-1886. It was known as the Hemenway Expedition.

When members of the expedition visited the Casa Grande, Arizona, their report on the extensive vandalism they found there prompted Mrs. Hemenway to mount an effort to save the ruins. The result was the establishment of Casa Grande Ruins as the first federal prehistoric and cultural reservation by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892. Mrs. Hemenway died two years later in 1894.

Her husband, Augustus Holyoke Hemenway, was a mariner and ship owner, famous for opening U.S. trade with Chile. He willed Mary his fortune before he died in 1876, making her one of the wealthiest woman in Boston.

See Also

  • Vertical File in the Salem Collection - Hemenway Family
  • "Salem's Mary Hemenway and the Zunis" Salem Gazette, June 25, 2010, p. 4