Bartlett Arkell

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Bartlett Arkell was a nationally known industrialist, philanthropist, and art connoisseur. Born in 1862 in Canajoharie, New York, a graduate of Williston Seminary and Yale (class of 1886), he worked for a short time in New York City for his older brother who owned Leslie’s Weekly and Judge magazines, and then, for one year, he was in the rug importing business. In 1893 he returned to Canajoharie to join The Imperial Packing Co. (which changed its name to Beechnut Packing Co, in 1900), and in due course, he served as president for 50 years.

During the rapid expansion of Beechnut in the twenties and thirties Arkell developed his love for the arts, a trait he inherited from his father, also a successful industrialist who served a term as a U.S. Senator (R) from New York. Arkell built a handsome stone Library and Art gallery in his home town in memory of his father and, over the years, he donated to the Gallery many of the works of Winslow Homer, Gilbert Stuart, Frederick Remington, Grandma Moses, and Luigi Lucioni. His homes in Manchester, New York City and in Canajoharie were equally adorned with works of these same artists.

Arkell’s generosity with gifts of art work reached out in many directions, to museums and galleries and to Ekwanok and the Augusta National where his interest in golf dates back to the early years of these clubs. The gifts of paintings he made to Ekwanok include a Norman Rockwell, (a digital copy of which hangs in the new Tap Room) and several of Lucioni’s, particularly the beautiful painting of Manchester’s Main Street.

When the Augusta National course was under construction he suggested that the old manor house be moved, enlarged, and converted to an attractive clubhouse and he offered to underwrite forty percent of the cost. The members of the Board quickly approved the plan and fully subscribed to provide the balance of the funds needed. For the first nine years of the Masters Tournament, Arkell donated a sum equal to the amount needed for the first prize. Cliff Roberts in his autobiography declared that Bart’s generosity represented a turning point in the Club’s affairs.”

Arkell died in office as Ekwanok’s only Chairman of the Board in 1947. Louise, his wife, continued to contribute to the Club and the Manchester Community until her death on January 7, 1970. Their contributions are chronicled here in the listing that follows. It is significant that Arkell literally kept Ekwanok in operation during the depression years of the thirties; otherwise the Club may well have gone out of existence or fallen into other hands. There is no doubt that Bartlett and Louise left many marks that touched every phase of Ekwanok’s activities for all members to enjoy.

Bartlett Arkell: His Ekwanok Club Record and Contributions

  • 1914 Admitted to membership
  • 1920 Donated use of his land for teaching and practice area for nominal annual rental of $5.00
  • 1921 Elected to Board of Governors — Served 27 years
  • 1930 Paid for half the cost of new boardwalk from main Street to the clubhouse
  • 1931 Elected vice-president — served 10 years
    • Appointed to Executive Committee — served 17 years
    • Appointed to House Committee — served 16 years
  • 1932 Paid for the painting of the clubhouse — inside and outside
  • 1933 Donated birch grove on north side of first fairway
  • 1934 Donated clubhouse furnishings and paintings
  • 1935 Donated $20,000 for clubhouse additions and improvements
    • Donated finds for tunneling of brook — 17th hole
  • 1936 Paid for printing of hard cover membership book
    • Bought land and built house for greenskeeper
    • Paid expenses and arranged for First Ladies Invitation Tournament including entertainment of contestants
  • 1937 Paid all club debts at year end
    • Paid expenses of the second Ladies Invitation Tournament
  • 1938 Bought all the stock from members who resigned and gave certificates to the Club
    • Donated $15,000 for clubhouse construction after fire completely destroyed the original building
    • Paid for redecorating house for new Club Pro. Jack Patroni
  • 1939 Donated $2,000 for golf course equipment
    • Loaned Club $6,000 to pay for expenses
  • 1940 Cancelled the Club’s $6,000 note and donated an additional $5,000 to pay off bank loan
    • Arranged with Chick Evans to bring Intercollegiate Championship to Ekwanok — He entertained all contestants
    • Paid for paving road to clubhouse and landscaping the “circle.”
  • 1941 Elected President — served 2 years
    • Paid several Club bills amounting to $3,800
    • Donated to the Club the house he built for the greenskeeper
  • 1942 Ekwanok-Arkell trust organized — Donated all 428 shares of his stock
  • 1945 Donated practice field to the Club
  • 1946 Elected Chairman of the Board of Governors
  • 1947 Died in Bennington October 15 where he had been hospitalized for 19 days. He was buried in Canajoharie
    • Mrs. Arkell proposed perpetual trophy for Medalist in the Lincoln Tournament with a $5,000 endowment. The Board and Lincoln family approved the proposal
  • 1954 Mrs. Arkell donated some eight acres of land west of the cart house and practice field
  • 1960 Mrs. Arkell donated the bronze golfer-sundial which had been given to Bartlett in 1921
  • 1970 Mrs. Arkell died and was buried in Dellwood cemetery in Manchester
    • Mrs. Arkell’s daughter, Betty Wilson, donated 16 acres east of the practice area to the Ekwanok Scholarship Trust

Gifts of Bartlett Arkell to the Community

  • Donated the house on Seminary Avenue to Burr & Burton Seminary
  • Donated the Manchester Fair Grounds to the Manchester Rod and Gun Club
  • Bought the Orvis Rod Company, ran it for a short time, and then gave it to golfer friend, D.C. Corkran
  • Formed a syndicate and bought the Equinox Hotel to keep it in operation
  • Annually stocked the Battenkill River with Rainbow and Brook Trout
  • Built three modest homes on Prospect Street to attract young people to Manchester