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Getting by With a Lot of Help From our Friends

On behalf of the Friends of the Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum – New Glarus, Wisconsin

 

October 29, 2020

Photo courtesy of Denise Anton Wright

This portrait of Edwin Barlow was discovered in the basement of the Chalet of the Golden Fleece behind a hidden closet door by volunteers during an inventory of the Chalet's collection.

Since 1955, the Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum has been a popular New Glarus tourist destination. Once the private home of Edwin Barlow (1885-1957), the founder of New Glarus' annual Wilhelm Tell play, this authentic recreation of a Swiss Bernese mountain chalet contains treasures that Barlow collected over 30-plus years. During the challenging 2020 season, the museum staff and volunteers worked closely with the Village of New Glarus in following COVID-19 public health guidelines. As a result, the museum offered drop-in guided tours on Saturdays, as well as private tours scheduled via our Facebook page.

One of the exciting things that the 2020 season brought was the much-needed restoration of a painting of Edwin Barlow wearing his World War One Army uniform. The portrait had been given to the Village of New Glarus as a gift from Barlow, but was returned to the museum at some later point. Inventory documents then listed the painting as being stored in the furnace room in the basement. While volunteers were helping a consultant hired by the Village of New Glarus complete an inventory of the Chalet's collection, a hidden closet door was discovered in the basement. Inside was the portrait of Barlow.

Made possible through a grant from the New Glarus Community Fund/Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, the restoration has resulted in a portrait that looks as fresh as when it was first painted. Barlow enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard in 1917, and served in France in the 127th field hospital of the 32nd Infantry Division. The 32nd received the name of the "Red Arrow Division" after it was the first Allied division to pierce the German Hindenburg Line of defense. The shoulder patch that the Division adopted – see Barlow's uniform – shows a line shot through with a red arrow.

Photo courtesy of Denise Anton Wright

Thanks to a grant from the New Glarus Community Fund/Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, Barlow's portrait was restored.

Barlow's World War One letters home to family in Monticello/New Glarus have been featured in the book, Letters from the Boys by Carrie A. Meyer (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2018). They can also be found on the website of the Monticello Historical Society, https://www.monticellohistoricalsociety.org, – under Publications – the World War One scrapbook of Rose Figi-Voegeli.

Many thanks to the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin for their generosity in helping preserve this important piece of New Glarus history. Thanks also to historian Bob Elmer for sharing his research into Edwin Barlow's life and family history. Please visit the Friends of the Chalet of the Golden Fleece's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ChaletOfTheGoldenFleece for more information about Edwin Barlow, the Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum, and plans for our 2021 season.

 
 

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