Edith Clarke Moore and Her Friend Gutzon Borglum

Portrait photograph of Edith Clarke Moore, circa 1896.


Edith Clarke Moore (1875-1952) was a native of Texas and married Matthew Van Moore in 1892. They moved from Knoxville to Asheville in 1895. Mr. M. V. Moore was the founder and operator of the M.V. Moore and company in Asheville. The clothing store on Patton Avenue was known of as the Men’s Outfitters. Moore was active in the movement to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National park and was chief among those who in the 1890s started the movement to make Asheville known nationally for its golf links.


Portrait of Edith Clarke Moore in her wedding gown and veil, 1892.

The Moore’s second home in Asheville was Hilltop Cottage at 227 Cumberland Avenue, the current site of the Greek Orthodox Church.


Hilltop Cottage

A close friend of mine and a member of the Friends of the North Carolina Room, Dianna Hays, has loaned us her family photographs to scan and add to our collection. I recently ran across a photograph of her great-grandmother that I was pretty sure she hadn’t seen before. The photo was taken March 30, 1915 and was also published in the Asheville Citizen on the same day. I printed a copy of the photo to give to her, along with a copy of the newspaper article.

At first she didn’t recognize her great-grandmother, but as she started reading the caption of the photograph she said:

“There’s my great grandmother’s friend Gutzon Borglum!”

“Who on earth was Gutzon Borglum?” I asked.

You don’t know who Gutzon Borglum is!”


“Gutzon Borglum designed Mount Rushmore!”


The Vance Statuary Commission: Identified (L to R) standing: Gutzon Borglum, Florence Steele Martin Vance (widow of Zeb Vance), John H. Martin (Black Mountain attorney and Mrs. Vance’s son), Mrs. John H. Martin, and Clement Manley; sitting, Locke Craig (NC Governor), Mrs. Edith Clarke Moore (Asheville), and William Alexander Hoke (NC Supreme Court Justice). Published Asheville Citizen 3/30/1915.

This photograph was taken of the “Vance Statuary Commission” with Gutzon Borglum standing on left. Edith Moore is seated center of picture and to the left of her is Governor Locke Craig of Asheville. But what was the Vance Statuary Commission? –1915 was long after the Vance Monument had been placed in 1898? We have no articles on the Vance Statuary Commission and it was not mentioned again in a newspaper search. It turns out Borglum was in Asheville in March and in April 1915 to make a study of Zebulon Baird Vance, as well as the place he was from, because he had been commissioned to make a statue of Vance to be placed in Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. The newspaper said that Borglum “spared no efforts to become intimate with Vance, as he expresses it, in order that he may be prepared to produce a credible statue.” [The Statuary Hall is a chamber in the United States capital devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans.] Borglum gave an address to a large audience at Grove Park Inn while he was here, titled, “What is Art?”

Interior of the Statuary Hall, published in the A C-T March 4, 2018, Courtesy Architect of the Capitol.

All of the Vance Statuary Commission went to Washington for the unveiling of the Vance statue on June 22, 1915. At the time, the statue was “said to be one of the finest efforts of the famous sculptor.” Edith Moore was quoted by the Citizen as saying, “Nearly all the states in the union are now represented in statuary hall.” [A C-T June 8, 1916]


Prior to being in Asheville to study for the Vance Statue, Borglum had just finished a statue of Abraham Lincoln. This was probably the statue located next to the Essex County Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey where Lincoln is seated at one end of a bench, his head lowered. It was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1911. Borglum also sculpted a bust of Lincoln that was installed in the Rotunda of the Capital in 1911. And just following his time in Asheville, he was awarded another contract: “Monument Will be Placed on the Top of Stone Mountain in Georgia. [A C-T August 19, 1915] The Stone Mountain Monument to the Confederacy is the largest high relief sculpture in the world depicting three Confederate figures of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis, Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Borglum began his work at Mt. Rushmore in 1927.

Edith and Matthew Van Moore had two children, Edith and Pauline. Pauline was my friend Dianna Hays’s grandmother, and she wrote a diary in 1916 when she was 19 years old. Dianna also donated this invaluable diary to the North Carolina Room. The diary ends while the family is in New York where Pauline was entering Fiinch School, a preparatory school for girls in Upper Manhattan that later became a college.


“We all went to Mr. Borglum’s studio early in the afternoon . . . “

M.V. and Edith Moore often travelled, most often on trips to New York and to Florida. Dianna remembers her grandmother Pauline Moore Bourne saying–because of all the places her parents travelled–“I never graduated from kindergarten!”


Edith Clarke Moore circa late 1940s. Edith died in 1952 and is buried in Riverside Cemetery.


Note: Gutzon Borglum has an interesting, if not confusing biography, and is worth reading about. Not the least worth noting is that while studying in Paris in 1890-93, his encounter with Auguste Rodin became the largest artistic influence on his career, and at that point he abandoned painting for sculpture. The jury still seems out concerning Borglum’s association with the Confederate cause and the Ku Klux Klan. Intriguing also, is that he named his son, who worked with him, “Lincoln.”

Post by Zoe Rhine North Carolina Room librarian


1 Comment

  1. In your copy above you say she attended Fisk college but in the diary it says Finch college and that is correct. There has been a Finch college – sort of a finishing school in NYC that is still I believe a Finch College.

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