• Steve Gould

Deep Dive: Exploring the Exhibits

Painting of the Charles Turbell House, by Frank Avens (1897)


This delightful watercolor depicts the Turbell House in the Hay Ground section of Southampton. Originally built for William Turbell in about 1810, the house was later known as the Charles Turbell House.


Born in Brooklyn, Frank Avens was recognized as deaf, most likely since birth. He attended the New York Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb, graduating in 1889. While at the Institution, Frank excellent in art, winning several prizes for his artistic work and may have studied with William Merritt Chase. After graduation, Avens worked as an artist in Brooklyn. In 1898 he was working for the summer as a farm hand for Samuel Squires near Head of Ponds. On the evening of June 21, Frank was visiting a friend in Hay Ground. As Avens was walking home, heading west along the rail road tracks he was struck by a baggage train, also heading west, near the Watermill Station. He never heard the train’s warning whistle and he was sadly killed instantly. He was 25 years old.


The painting was donated through Mr. Frank Burnett by Mrs. Susanne Moran Shaw in 1954.

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