A lot was happening that spring in 1906. To begin with, Eva and Adalbert Fenyes were on a railway journey across the United States and Canada. In early May, the Los Angeles Times announced their pending departure. “They will leave Pasadena Wednesday or Thursday and will first travel in the Southwest. From New Orleans they will tour many Southern States and then on to the north and east. They will return by Canada… Dr. Fenyes, during this delightful journey will pursue his entomological studies and expects to make a valuable collection which will probably be placed in the new Academy of Science which is to be opened in San Francisco at an early date.”¹ Eva and Adalbert boarded the train on Thursday, May 10th in “fog like mush,” hurriedly caught the Golden State Limited in Los Angeles, and set off on the delightful journey described by the Los Angeles Times.² They would not return to Pasadena until early September.
Meanwhile, H. L. Ellsworth and S. W. Upton of Ellsworth & Co.³ were about to begin construction of Fenyes Mansion. Architect Robert D. Farquhar of Los Angeles had prepared the plans, and the building permit for the estimated $20,000 project was about to be issued. Pasadena Daily News described the location, “The place is situated on the brow of the Orange Grove hill just where the avenue winds northward and there is one of the finest views of the mountains and the town of any obtainable on the boulevard.”⁴ Up to that point Eva had been closely involved in the mansion’s planning phase even questioning Farquhar’s design of the attic spaces, their adequacy for proper air circulation and practical access to water pipes and electrical conduits.⁵ But by early May, Eva was traveling farther and farther away from Pasadena and the construction site. Of necessity she would have to rely on her architect and building contractor to craft her vision of her beautiful home with the fine view. It would be four months before she returned home.⁶
During those spring and summer months, while Adalbert was collecting Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Gnathusa beetles⁷ and Ellsworth & Upton were building the Fenyes mansion, never idle, ever resourceful Eva Fenyes was painting her view from the train. Initially she thought of “…beginning a collection of sketches of different kinds of fences we shall see on our trip,”⁸ but her vision expanded. Shown here in chronological order are some of her very small “Train Sketches” or “Railway Sketches,” as she called them in her sketchbook, as well as several of the larger sketches she painted en plein air during the same journey.
¹ ”Long Journey Planned: Pasadena Man and Wife Will Take Tour to Gather Collections for New Academy of Science,” 7 May 1906, Los Angeles Times.
² Eva Fenyes diary, 10 May 1906, Eva Scott Fenyes, FCP.35.3, PMH.
³ Thurston’s Pasadena City Directory 1906-7. Listing: Ellsworth & Co. (H. L. Ellsworth and S. W. Upton), building contractors, 481 S. Broadway [Pasadena, California].
⁴ “New Home to Cost $20,000: Mrs. Fenyes Plans,” 1 May 1906, Pasadena Daily News.
⁵ Robert D. Farquhar to Eva Scott Fenyes, 3 April 1906, FCP.15.3, PMH.
⁶ Absent from the family papers is correspondence between Eva Fenyes and Robert Farquhar from April 3, 1906 to September 18, 1906.
⁷ Adalbert Fenyes’ beetle collection is listed on the Academy of Science Entomology Collection Highlights webpage, “…Staphylinidae (more than 150,000 specimens, including the important A. Fenyes collection…”
⁸ Eva Fenyes diary, 10 May 1906, FCP.35.3, PMH.