Frederick A. Purdy

Purdy & Hutcheson, Sculptors letterhead
Purdy & Hutcheson, Sculptors letterhead
Cass Gilbert collection, New York Historical Society
Ethnic group: 
Union Member

Frederick Purdy was born in England in 1855 and came to the U.S. in 1886. He was half of the Chicago based firm, Purdy and Hutcheson, which sub-contracted the ornamental stone carving at the Capitol. When he was in town he stayed at The Argyle Hotel (see the Community Walks Map below for an approximate location) though he was back in Chicago at the time of the 1900 Census. Purdy, like the other stone carvers, was a member of the Journeymen Stonecutters Union and he was accepted into the St. Paul local on a traveling card in May of 1899. Also like many stone carvers, he moved around with his work and was back in St. Paul in 1910-11 and in Vermont as late as 1925 still working as a sculptor.

The Purdy-Hutcheson firm was contracted by Butler-Ryan to carve the six sculptures of the Virtues that were later placed above the main entrance to the Capitol.  Daniel Chester French created the models for the sculptures and William Huthcheson, Albert Corwin and other stonecutters rendered them in marble.

Information on Frederick Purdy has been difficult to locate and the research team gratefully acknowledges the help of William Tyre, the Executive Director and Curator of the GLESSENER HOUSE MUSEUM in Chicago, Ilinois, for the following annotated bibliography:

Columbian Exposition Dedication Ceremonies Memorial: A Graphic Description of the Ceremonies at Chicago, October, 1892. Page 568 Professional – Artists:
“Frederick A. Purdy
Mr. Purdy, a son of Charles W. Purdy, a protege of Sir Gilbert Scott, was born in Kent, England, on the 11th of September, 1857. It was under Sir Gilbert Scott that Mr. Purdy was educated as a carver in most of the cathedral towns of England and Ireland.  He has been employed in this city, by the prominent capitalists and art lovers, amongst others, Franklin McVeagh, Martin A. Ryerson, Harlow N. Higinbotham, Title and Trust Building, Owings Building, and Newberry Library, and by Clem Studebaker, of South Bend, Ind., also by J. M. Longear, of Marquette, Mich.; names that alone, apart from all else, attest his highest abilities in his chosen profession.  He was married on the 8th of October, 1885, to Miss Mary Lydell, by whom one child has been born to them.”

Art Institute of Chicago - Ryerson & Burnham Libraries

Exhibition Date


Project Personnel


Archival Collection Name


Archival Subcollection Name


 1897 Chicago Blue Book/Sculptors, PURDY & HUTCHESON, 2206 South Park Avenue, Chicago. (Note:  The 1911 Sanborn map (oldest available) shows a paste factory at 2206 South Park Avenue).

1900 US Census/Frederick A. Purdy

  • Residence:  1820 Bond Avenue, Hyde Park
  • Born April 1855 in England (contradicts date of birth in Columbian Exposition book above)
  • Immigrated 1886, naturalized citizen
  • Occupation, sculptor
  • Wife Mary, born April 1855, married 16 years, two children, one now living
  • Stepdaughter _____ Ball(?) born July 1873, married 7 years
  • Grandson Frederick J. Ball(?) born January 1897
  • Servant Anna Peterson, age 20, from Sweden

Vermont: A Guide to the Green Mountain State (published 1937, WPA project). Page 224

Hardwick . . . The Memorial Building, Main and Church Steets.

“. . . on the second floor is a plaster-of-Paris copy of the famous ‘Last Supper’ made by Frederick A. Purdy, a sculptor who was associated with the Woodbury Granite Company.”


"Port of New York records list a "Harry Herly [sic]" with the occupation of stone carver entering in 1886.  The Herleys settled in Chicago.  The earliest record of Harry's American career that I have found appears in the Chicago city directory for 1886 where Herley and Frederick A. Purdy are listed as "architectural carvers and modelers."       

The 1888 Chicago directory lists Herley by his given name, Julius Henry, and indicates that the firm of Herley and Purdy was either moving or expanding its operations to St. Louis. St. Louis directories for 1887 and 1888 list Herley & Purdy with residence addresses for both in Chicago.  The Minneapolis directory for 1890-91 lists residence and business addresses for Herley in that city.  The St. Louis directory for 1893 lists a residence address for Herley. "

And see also the following newspaper clippings at PROQUEST HISTORICAL NEWSPAPERS

SAYS HE TOOK BRIBE: Public Library Board Accuses Director T. C... Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922); Dec 15, 1895; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune (1849-1989) pg. 1

"Carving for County Building," under "DRUNK PROBLEM, GIVEN UP BY FIREMEN'S TRIAL BOARD.: Truckman Hahne ..." in Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922); Jul 13, 1907; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune (1849-1989) pg. 16

A LINE O' TYPE OR TWO. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Apr 25, 1956; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune (1849-1989) pg. 20

Residence from date: 
Residence to date: 
Setting one of six Virtues statues in place
Setting one of six Virtues statues in place above Capitol main entrance. The statues were designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French and carved by stonecutters working for Purdy-Hutcheson.
Photo courtesy of New York Historical Society