New York City
Pike Street, the Lower East Side of Manhattan
island — L. C. Earle was born to John E. Earle,
a merchant, and Mary Malvina Dorset on Nov. 11,
1845. Mary became John’s second wife in1842 and
was 26 years old when L. C. was born. He was the
youngest son in a family of nine siblings and
half siblings. By February 1854, when Mary’s
mother died, the Earle family lived on
Washington Place in Manhattan.
By May 1856, the family had moved to Grand
Rapids. John was a grocer in 1860, but soon
owned and operated the Kent Woolen Mills (on the
site of the present post office) which burned in
L. C.’s interest in art blossomed when he was
young. He caught the interest of Marinus
Harting, an accomplished Dutch artist who had
recently settled in Grand Rapids to teach art.
Young Earle assisted his father in the woolen
mill for about three years, but by 1867 was
already making a name for himself in the art
world even getting several mentions in the
Grand Rapids newspaper. Most interesting is his
early involvement with the Kent Baseball club.
L. C. was right fielder as well as founding
member and Secretary of the club when it started
in 1867. Later that year he left for New York
City to continue studying his chosen profession.
About 1869, LC went to Chicago to study with
the renown Walter Shirlaw, instructor at the
Chicago Academy of Design, the forerunner of the
Art Institute of Chicago. The early 1870’s saw
L. C. training abroad, at the Royal Academy in
Munich. Back in Chicago, about 1881 he traveled
again to Rome and Florence, Italy. Upon his
return in 1882, he settled down in Chicago,
marrying Nellie Clark Harmon of Aurora,
Illinois. They had two sons and lived in Rogers
Evanston until the late 1880s.
About 1889, L. C. moved his family back to
the New York area, living in Montclair, New
Jersey. They quickly joined the social and art
community there. Mrs. Earle became very involved
with the Montclair Dramatic Club while L. C. was
a founding member of the Montclair Art Museum.
His years in Montclair were some of his most
productive. It was while working in Montclair
that he painted the famous mural series for
Chicago National Bank called
Chicago, The Dutch Boy Painter logo for
the National Lead Company, St. Andrew’s Caddie,
and the 1898 Columbian Exhibition murals.
After Nellie died in 1907, the boys, John and
Lawrence, now ages 23 and 20, came back to
Michigan with their father, involving themselves
in the Detroit automobile industry. L. C. moved
to Grand Rapids to live with his sisters on S.
Union avenue in 1909. He remained very active
until his death in 1921.