Eva Scott (Fenyes)

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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eva scott muse fenyes portrait drawing room pasadena fenyes mansion

Photo of Eva Scott Muse Fenyes, in Fenyes Mansion drawing room.

Eva Scott (1849 Nov 09, New York City - 1930 Feb 02, Pasadena) was born to Leonard Scott and Rebecca Briggs.

Eva was born to her parents at West 26th St. Her childhood was pampered and sheltered, yet exposed her to music, literature and art (Dolliver 1898, p 73). Her father Leonard Scott's ill health was a dark overtone to her childhood, but the family's constant search for a warmer climate preceded Eva's own love of travel.

Her formal education was at Pelham Priory in New York. She was fluent in French and Spanish, accomplished at the piano and violin, proficient in embroidery, and promising at artistry. She followed her education with a Grand Tour.

Following her formal education, Eva traveled the world until her marriage.

In the company of her parents, Eva spent almost four years undertaking a Grand Tour throughout Europe, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Malta and the Syrian coast. The Grand Tour originated rite of passage for young English men, who would travel Europe to soak up history and culture in the company of a protective mentor. In the 1860s, Americans adopted the Grand Tour and affluent American women undertook it too.

She made social connections (especially with professional artists), studied languages (reaching fluency in French and Spanish, which she had likely studied earlier) and recording her impressions in diaries and sketchbooks.

Belham Priory1866 - 1867Educated at Belham Priory in Westchester County, New York. It had been established in 1854 by Reverend Bolton and his daughter Nanette as one of the first all-girls boarding schools that catered to new York's elite.
Grand Tour1867 - 1871Eva traveled through the world with her parents, getting a worldly education in history and culture.
Coming of Age1871 - 1878Often accompanied by her parents, Eva continued to travel until her first marriage. She visited Canada and journeyed up and down the eastern United States from Maine to Florida, including Vermont, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. She continued to develop her painterly skills.

Marriage to Mr. Muse (1878)

On November 19th 1878, Eva married William Sullivan Muse (1842-04-08 [North Yarmouth, MD] - 1911 [Cambridge, MD]).

Mr. Muse was born into a respectable family and joined the United States Marine Corps in his youth, became a hero in the Spanish-American War. He was a Marine Liutenant when he married. It is not known how he and Eva met, but Leonard did not approve of his daughter's choice. The wedding was held at Chapel of the Centurion at Fort Monroe, Virginia. A dinner reception was held at a local hotel, followed by a weeklong honeymoon in the north.

After doting on their only child nearly thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Scott worried much about Eva.

Leonora Scott Muse born. (1879-10-02 [White Plains, NY])

Eva stayed with her parents in New York while Mr. Muse was deployed. During one such stay, on October 2nd 1879 in White Plains, NY, Eva completed 38 grueling hours of labor and gave birth to a daughter.

She was named Leonora Scott Muse after Eva's father Leonard.

Mr. and Mrs. Muse divorced (1891)

Mr. and Mrs. Muse and Leonora relocated to cold and damp Mare Island Naval Shipyard. However, Eva's health plummeted and a doctor advised she move to a warmer climate; she and Leonora left for Santa Fe, New Mexico in September 1889 and never returned. Eva thereafter filed for divorce and custody on grounds of non-support and cruel and inhuman treatment. Incidentally, laws in New Mexico made it unusually for Eva to get a divorce.

The divorce was final in 1891 after 13 years of marriage (Leonora was 14 and Eva was 42). The court ordered that Muse release all Eva's property and he lost custody of Leonora. He attempted to send his daughter a check in 1891, but Leonard commanded him to merely deposit the money if he wished to give her gifts in the future.

Muse never remarried. He later became a Brigadier General, retired August 14th 1900 and died April 16th 1911.

Following the divorce, Leonora was enrolled in private schools in England and Switzerland. Eva traveled the world and was joined by Leonora during summers, but she remained settled in Santa Fe (and later Pasadena, too) throughout her life.

Marriage to Dr. Fenyes (1896)

In 1896, Eva and Dr. Fenyes were married at an evangelical church in Budapest, and settled in Pasadena.

While studying art with Mr. Alphonse Birck in Cairo in 1895, Eva met a Hungarian doctor named Dr. Adelbert Fenyes de Csakaly. Eva and Dr. Fenyes married in 1896 in Budapest, Hungary.

They picked up Leonora from Switzerland and in July 1896 the three arrived in America.

Mrs. Fenyes had married a sophisticated, European, young trophy husband.

Like many of the turn-of-the-century Americans who married into European families, Mrs. Fenyes began using a pseudo-crest that brought to mind European nobility, with a script/monogram F under a coronet. She had it on many personal belongings including dinnerware, clothing accessories and stationery.

It is unlikely that Mrs. Fenyes would have been entitled to use this crest according to strict European protocol.

Life in Santa Fe

Upon leaving Mare Island, Eva had wasted no time getting settled in Santa Fe, befriending cultural and political society and building a home -- her grand Acequia Madre house, the sister to her mansion in Pasadena.

However, after her divorce she left with Leonora for Europe. In 1895 she left for Cairo and studied art there with Mr. Alphonse Birck.

In New Mexico, Eva joined the Archaeological Society of America, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the Historical Society of Santa Fe, New Mexico; and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She also befriended Governor Bradford Prince and the Swiss-born archaeologist Adolph Bandelier.

Life in Pasadena

Eva and Adelbert settled in the wealthy city of Pasadena.

Eva also maintained a summer home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She and Adelbert were part of upper-crust Pasadena society -- members of the so-called 400, the 400 wealthiest families in the area. Eva hosted salons modeled on those popular in Europe and on the East Coast, where people convened in private homes to social network by discussing predetermined topics.

Eva's father died alone while she was in Switzerland.

Pasadena allowed Eva to reach her pique as a hostess and artist. Eva held a salon on Friday afternoons, and frequent guests included Charles Lummis as well as artists William Keith, Benjamin Brown and Carl Oscar Borg (who all benefited from her patronage).

Mr. Lummis advised Eva use watercolor to preserve California's remaining missions and adobes. Eva pursued this quest by horse, wagon or foot for the rest of her life. She served on the first Board of Trustees of the Southwest Museum (founded by Mr. Lummis) and her will left hundreds of her paintings to the museum.

Eva regarded her art as a hobby and always carried her sketchbook in case anything caught her interest. Over 3,000 of her paintings are held by the Pasadena Museum of History.

Eva was active amidst Pasadena's local civic organizations.

She co-founded the Pasadena Emergency League in 1911 and founded the Pasadena Music and Art Association in 1912. She joined the Archaeological Society of America, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the Historical Society of Santa Fe, New Mexico and Daughters of the American Revolution.

She attempted to join the Society of Mayflower Descendants but never finalized the process. Also, Eva was listed in the 1932 edition of Encyclopedia of American Biography.

75 Grand Avenue1896-11Dr. and Mrs. Fenyes arrived in Pasadena in 1896 and they leased this home with furnishings. In February 1898 they bought the property to rent to others. LA Times, February 3 & 5, 1898
251 S Orange Grove Ave
1897-02-04According to Pasadena Evening Star's February 4th and 10th editions, Mrs. Corrine Wood of B.O. Kendall Agency sold a lot at 251 S. Orange Avenue to Eva.
1897-03-31According to the Pasadena Evening Star's March 31st edition, the Fenyes' commissioned Dennis & Farrell to build a Moorish-Algerian villa on Eva's property at 251 S. Orange Grove Avenue. Cost was approximately $20,000.
1897-09-01Moorish-Algerian villa was completed as scheduled for $20,000 with a residence, office and stable (LA Herald, 1898-01-02).
1898-03-03The LA Herald, 1898-02-25, reports, "Dr. and Mrs. Fenyes of Orange Grove avenue expect to move into their handsome new home next week." The family moved into their 32- or 33-room mansion.
1905-02-01According to the Pasadena Daily News, she sold the estate on 1905-02-01 for $40,000 to Henry N Thompson. The sale included furniture, adornments, drapes, horses and carriage -- essentially all contents except for a few personal items. With Eva's daughter married and moved out, Eva felt the house was just too large.
1915-08-04Ten years later in 1915, under the ownership of Frank H Hamilton, the home was destroyed by fire under mysterious circumstances and the damage was estimated at $17,000 Pasadena Star.
E Colorado Storefront1898Wetherby & Kaysar have sold the block on East Colorado street which bears their name to Mrs. Dr. Fenyes, the price being understood to be in the neighborhood of $35,000. Wetherby & Kaysar reserve a lease of their shoe store room for a term of five years. The sale is one of the largest which has been made in Pasadena for some time. LA Herald, 1898-02-17
170 N Orange Grove Ave1901According to the Pasadena Evening Star (1901-10-31), Eva purchased 4.5 acres at 170 N. Orange Grove (470 W Walnut Street) from Mr. William Channing. Eva had planned to remodel the structure and add rooms, but it promptly burned to the ground. Four years later Eva would start building the Fenyes Mansion on the site.
292 E Colorado1905In November 1904, Eva Fenyes bought this property which had previously belonged to Dr. McCumber, and built seven bungalows on it in addition to the existing homes. After selling their Moorish-Algerian villa at 251 S Orange Grove Avenue and while building the Fenyes Mansion, the couple resided here from 1905 to 1907 in the largest bungalow which had ten rooms (the others had six rooms each and were rented).

Autocar Accident Mrs. Eva S. Fenyes, wife of Dr. Adelbert Fenyes, had a narrow escape this morning from serious injuries in an automobile accident. Mrs. Fenyes was driving her automobile east on Colorado Street when she saw another big auto car bearing down upon her from the top of the hill. She turned quickly out of the way, and for some reason unexplained ran squarely into the cement curb, smashing the fore part of her automobile. Luckily she was herself uninjured. But the car was out of the running and Mrs. Fenyes was taken to her home in the big car of Freeman Ford, which was the one she had attempted to avoid. LA Herald, 1905-11-21

Society Women Make Dolls' Fair a Charming Success The entertainment committee of the Emergency league, of which Mrs. Elmer Woodbury is chairman, is responsible for the success of the novel "dolls' fair" at La Casa Grande Tuesday afternoon and evening. The idea was imported from Paris and was simply the gathering together of scores of prettily dressed dolls to be sold for sweet charity's sake. Local society became desperately interested in the affair and the result was that many of the dolls dressed and contributed were on a scale of magnificence which was little short of astounding. For instance, there was "Pasadena, the Crown of the Valley," a large doll dressed and contributed Mrs. Adelbert Fenyes. Her dress was of shimmering white satin, the front panel embroidered in California poppies. She wore a veil of tulle and was crowned with a jeweled crown. Dr. Fenyes contributed a Zulu, fully equipped for business. LA Herald, 1905-12-17

Curious Automobile Accident Mrs. Adelbert Fenyes of 292 East Colorado street figured in a peculiar and expensive accident this afternoon, her great electric automobile making a desperate dive for a fine plate glass window on South Raymond avenue and stopping its headlong career only when it was turned partly over and its wheels ran helpless in the air. Mrs. Fenyes was turning the automobile so as to come alongside the curb, and becoming confused she turned the rower on instead of turning it off as she intended.

The machine immediately made a fearful rush, mounted the sidewalk and deflected by a lamppost dove for the plate glass front of the Benz Japanese store. It totally demolished the glass, the front wheels being lifted into the air by the collision and the rear wheels still moving swiftly the car tilted backward, landing fortunately on the rear of the body box and standing literally on end, where it stood until someone turned off the power.

Mrs. Fenyes was thrown over the back of the seat into the victoria top, escaping all injury. Had the car turned clear over she would undoubtedly have been crushed to death. As it was the only damage was to the store window, its contents and the automobile itself. When the car was partly overturned the sulphuric acid in the batteries ran into the car, causing much damage to the leather work and to the contents of the car. It is reported that the total damage to plate glass, contents of same and to the machine itself will reach something near $400. The automobile is a Waverly Electric of particularly handsome design, weighing about 2500 pounds, and is the same machine with which Mrs. Fenyes has had several troublesome accidents during the past few months. LA Herald, 1906-01-21

Fenyes Mansion (built 1905, inhabited 1907)

Eva's other homes with Dr. Fenyes were by all means Fenyes mansions as well. However, it is this Fenyes Mansion which exists today as the Pasadena Museum of History.

1905Robert Farquhar was commissioned to design the Fenyes Mansion.
1907Eva moved into the home LA Herald, 1907-12-01.
160 N Orange Grove Ave
1912-04-13Mrs. Fenyes purchased a lot adjacent to her home Pasadena Daily News, 1912-04-13.
1915-04-09A notice to build was published. Sylvanus Marston built what we now know as the Curtin House on this site.

Mrs. Fenyes Recovers Diamond Necklace Sergeant Reynolds of the Pasadena police force this morning [July 16th 1907] found the costly diamond necklace lost by Mrs. Dr. Fenyes of 170 North Orange Grove avenue yesterday afternoon. It had been picked up by an employee at the Mather-Baker store and locked in the safe awaiting the owner. The necklace is one of the handsomest worn by the fair ones of this city, and Mrs. Fenyes was naturally in great suspense till a message came to her this morning announcing its recovery. LA Herald, 1907-07-17

1911Founded Pasadena Emergency League.
1912Co-ounded Pasadena Music and Art Association.
1930Resided at 361 Parkwood Avenue.
Additional press mentions.

Mentions: LA Herald, 1898-03-23; LA Herald, 1898-06-14 (contributors to the LA county exhibit at the Transmississippi eposition); LA Herald, 1906-01-28; LA Herald, 1906-03-11 (Shakespeare Club); LA Herald, 1907-04-09; LA Herald, 1908-02-23; LA Herald 1908-03-01; LA Herald, 1908-11-14 (Pasadena Emergency League); LA Herald, 1908-12-01; LA Herald, 1909-04-04 (Benjamin Chamber Brown);

Eva as Shrewd Businesswoman

Throop polytechnic institute opens its doors on Wednesday, September 27, with every indication of a large increase in attendance. President Edwards and Secretary Coleman are much pleased at the outlook. In this connection it is interesting to note that the board of trustees has secured an option on the Fenyes property on Euclid avenue, immediately back of a new boarding hall on Los Robles, in order to provide for further growth in that direction. LA Herald, 1905-09-14

To Build Eight Stores PASADENA, SEPT. 2. -- On her property at 316 East Colorado street, Mrs. Adelbert Fenyes of this city is making preparation to erect eight new stores which will be one story high and provided with foundations sufficient to permit of more stories being added. The idea of Mrs. Fenyes and the scheme spoken of by her architect, who has the plans nearly completed, is to build a building with a 200-foot frontage after the old stores that now occupy the site have been removed, and allow the new building to be occupied by ten stocks of good or as ten separate stores until the time shall come when there will be a demand for a finer building. Then she will have this building razed and put up a magnificent structure. LA Herald, 1910-09-03

Eva as Artist and Patroness

eva scott muse fenyes painting moorish algerian villa
Untitled painting by Eva Scott Muse Fenyes of a model in her 251 S. Orange Grove villa. Part of the Fenyes Mansion (official site) collection. Image by L. M. Clancy.
Eva studied art and produced thousands of paintings, but kept them mainly in binders and never exhibited her works. She did not view herself as a professional artist.

There are sixteen watercolor and pencil sketches dating 1866-7, when she was a seventeen year old student at Pelham Priory in Westchester County, New York.

Mrs. Fenyes was talented at sketching with pencil, ink and her tin paint box.

She oft took photos and painted from them. She took formal painting lessons when she was 20; her daughter noted that she "showed considerable talent." Eva visited Paris and painted three portraits of Napoleon which were later sold by Mrs. Curtin to Stanford University for $1000.

Mrs. Fenyes continued her formal art training in New York, Italy and Egypt. Following her grand tour, she studied art in New York with James Smillie; she would study later also in Europe.

While travelling before her first marriage, Eva painted her surroundings and met well-known artists.

During her Grand Tour, she came to renowned Hudson River School artists Sanford Gifford and Frederick E Church. As her travels continued she also encountered James C Nicoll, William H Lippincott, J Wells Champney, and William Merritt Chase. She frequented their studios, especially the famous Tenth Street Studio, which served as a work an exhibition space for twenty three artists. She also visited Florida with her family, and at Fort Marion (a prison for Native Americans at that time) she was inspired by the prisoners' sketches to produce some of her own, and to patronize Native American artists.

Sanford Gifford traveled with Eva's family on a Nile cruise. He wrote that he "made [an] oil sketch of Asyout and a little one of the pyramids to show Miss Scott the process of painting in oil. Miss S. Is a genuine artist by nature, and she sketches very well." (aaa.si.edu)

John H. Rich of Pasadena, who has just closed there an exhibition of his paintings, is represented by three portraits, Mrs. Adalbert Fenyes, Mrs. Thomas Curtain [sic] and Miss Ruth Hoyt, all excellent in color and treatment. The flesh tones are clear and rendered with amazing truth and life, the shadows and reflected tones of exquisite quality. The portrait of Mrs. Fenyes is especially fine in this respect, and also in the handling of textures and background, the whole presenting a most admirable painting. That of Mrs. Curtain is also well handled, and shows the artist's power to convey impressions of form and color delightfully, without the annoyance of too much detail. LA Herald, 1909-04-30

Shortly after she settled in Pasadena, Eva's friend Charles Lummis urged her to use watercolor to document California's adobe buildings.

Eva had met Lummis through her interest in art and he was impressed by her painting. Eva traveled from San Diego to Sonoma by horse, wagon or on foot. She willed approximately 300 of her watercolors to the Southwest Museum (where she served on the first Board of Trustees). The vast majority of her other artwork (over 3,000 pieces) remains at the Pasadena Museum of History.

Eva as World Traveler

Dr. A. Fenyes, a prominent entomologist of Pasadena, and his wife are at the St. Francis. Dr. Fenyes is about to make a trip through the northern forests in pursuit of scientific knowledge. San Francisco Call, 1904-06-13

Dr. and Mrs. Fenyes stayed at the Hotel Rowardennan. San Francisco Call, 1904-06-19

Dr. and Mrs. Fenyes stopped at the Palace Hotel. SF Call, 1905-07-07

Dr. and Mrs. Adelbert Fenyes left this week on an extensive journey through the United States, Canada and Alaska. Dr. Fenyes expects to continue his entomological studies during the trip. LA Herald, 1906-05-13

Dr. Adelbert Fenyes arrived home Friday evening from an extended trip through the east and Canada. Mrs. Fenyes will not return until later, having stopped off at Colorado Springs, Colo., to visit her daughter. LA Herald, 1906-07-08

Dr. and Mrs. Adelbert Fenyes of North Orange Grove avenue have returned from a two months' trip to Mexico. Dr. Fenyes brought back 10,000 new beetles for his collection. LA Herald, 1908-06-24

Dr. and Mrs. Fenyes had apartments at the St. Francis. San Francisco Call, 1909-05-07.

Dr. Fenyes had recently arrived at Tahoe tavern in Lake Tahoe LA Herald, 1909-06-29.

Family and heritage

Eva had a strong interest in her heritage.

She became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She also took out an application to become a member of the Mayflower Society, but never completed the process. Between 1909 and 1911, Eva commissioned John Hubbard Rich to paint copies of portraits of her ancestors; she hung Rich's paintings around her studio.

To this day, Eva's large collection of genealogy books remains next to her bedroom.

Eva was of English descent on both sides of her family.

Her paternal lineage is poorly understood relative to her maternal heritage, which is traced to Adam Winthrop Sr (1548 - 1623). Adam Winthrop Sr sought to enhance his fortune in the New World. He came to Massachusetts Bay Colony and prospered, as did his son Squire John Winthrop Jr (1587/88 - 1649), grandson john Winthrop Jr (1605/6-1676) and great-grandson Fitz-John Winthrop (1637/8-1797). They became governors of the colonies of Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay and buried just outside the Boston Common.

Eva's other ancestors include Francis Cooke and Robert Warren, who were on the Mayflower for its original expedition to Plymouth in 1620. Six generations later, James Warren (a general in the Revolutionary War) married Mercy Otis and together they amassed a fortune in land holdings. Mercy Otis Warren was an extraordinary patriotic writer.

Eva adored and admired her parents.

Eva's father imparted to her an acumen for real estate and an obsession with Napoleon. He also taught her specifically to always invest in property and never put all her money in one bank.

Eva persisted in getting portraits painted of her parents. In 1880, on her father's 70th birthday, she sent them an insistent letter -- they relented that October,

In 1880 on her father's seventieth birthday, Eva wrote to him,

The more I am away from you, the greater us my desire to have your portraits painted by some good artist. They would be [the] most precious gift I could receive and always be freaked, during my lifetime and Leomora's, with the most deep affection. You have, I know said that your age & the expense were objections also the difficulty of being long enough in a place to procure sittings, but if you should be in N.Y. in Oct. I think you might manage to get there[.] [A]rtist[s] now a days do not require very long nor very many interviews. As for the two other objections, the first has no weight with me for I love you as much as if you were younger; and as to the second -- remember dearest papa, that if you should be taken from me -- it would be too late to get a good portrait.

You may think it odd my birthday letter should contain a request, but is this not a good opportunity to try to perpetuate your birthdays for as long as I live, each 30th July and 20th Nov. will find your portraits decorated with greens & flowers, no matter how far we may be separated, and Leonora & I will greet them with loving words & waft good wishes to their originals. I have not even a good photo of dear mamma, & photographs, at best are not perfectly satisfactory.

Death (1930)

Eva died February 3rd 1930 at her home in Pasadena.

Mountain View Cemetery Eva Scott Muse Fenyes grave

The service was held at her home and she was buried at Mountain View Cemetery, Founder's Lawn, Lot 2072, Grave 3. Leonora received ½ the monthly income off the trust property, and Dr. Fenyes received ¼ up to $500 monthly. Adalbert also received lifetime use of the residence at 1175 Oakland Avenue in Pasadena. Furthermore, after Eva died Leonora built a house for him at 361 South Parkwood Drive. Eva's daughter Leonora wrote a letter that stated, "the loss of my dear mother has left us disconsolate. We see little of Dr. Fenyes. He has married and we do not care for her."


Eva was listed in 1932 in the Encyclopedia of American Biography, and her Pasadena and Santa Fe homes persist as cultural centers.


Pasadena Museum of History
Dolliver, Louise Pearsons. 1898. Lineage Book: Daughters of the American Revolution, Volume XXIII.