“Make these hills and valleys bud and blossom”
Henry Bowen was determined to make his birthplace a symbol of the ideal village, according to nineteenth-century notions of beautification and refinement. Following a long New England tradition of elites managing the general welfare, Bowen undertook many of his projects with a sense of entitlement. His were good and generous offers, but without any input from the town.
His philanthropy extended to Woodstock Academy, beautification projects for the town common, and the donation of a park, complete with bandstand, for public festivities. Such investments, Bowen noted, would provide spiritual as well as other returns: “Look out for public institutions, and endow them. Make your town, your village, and your home more and more beautiful every year. Your hearts will be made better, and your souls will be richer for so doing.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a newspaper that frequently opposed Bowen, memorialized him as follows: “He found it an unimproved bucolic hamlet, and he rendered it an emerald delight.”