460 History of Wake Forest College
one that is distinctive and will contribute to the esthetic education of
all future generations of Wake Forest students, is the Simmons Art
Collection. This came to the College in May, 1941, the gift of Dr.
Thomas J. Simmons, former president of Brenau College, Gainesville,
Georgia. In other chapters of this work something has been said of the
distinguished work of Dr. Simmons in the higher education of
women. The high estimate that the faculty and trustees of the College
have of his worth and ability is shown by the fact that in 1905 they
conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws. Both he and his
wife, Mrs. Lessie Southgate Simmons, of Durham, known for her
musical culture and skill, were both much interested in art, especially
in painting and sculpture; in their extensive travels for many years in
their summer vacations they collected many productions of the artists
of Europe and America, and of other lands and brought them to their
Georgia home, in which they displayed them in a gallery seventy feet
long, which was open not only to friends and the students of Brenau
College but to other visitors. Of this collection a member of the
Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, Mr. Nuse, is quoted as saying:
"Although the collection was made by an individual, fortunately that
individual has shown excellent taste and a fine sense of
A copy of a descriptive catalogue of the collection,
made on the suggestion of an art connoisseur of New York, came into
the hands of President Kitchin, with the result told by Dr. Simmons
himself in the following paragraph: 2
"Among the letters from many people congratulating me on the
merit of this descriptive catalogue, the one from President Kitchin so
impressed me that a correspondence followed, culminating in a visit
from him last May, when he came to Gainesville to ask me to give my
art collection to Wake Forest College. I told him then of what seemed
to me an unrealizable dream of mine, that my art museum, instead of
being sold and scattered after my
1 Article by Associate Professor A. L. Aycock, in the "Simmons Art Museum"
number of The Student, May, 1941.
2 Simmons Art Museum" number of The Student.
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