top of page

From The Bryant Room Archive

January/February 2001

The Wood Engravings of Henry R. Diamond

By Myrna Sloam

Throughout Roslyn history a significant number of talented artists and authors have lived, worked and drawn inspiration from their presence in our community. I am pleased to have the opportunity to highlight the work of one of those artists, Henry R. Diamond, whose inspiration was drawn from the many older wooden buildings he found while living in the Roslyn area in the 1920s and 30s. 

Born in Albany, NY, Henry R. Diamond (1896-1989) studied architecture at Syracuse University. In the 1920s he moved his studio from New York City to a home in Roslyn Heights. Once there, he began sketching Roslyn buildings and scenes, which he later made into wood and linoleum engravings. Although self-taught in this medium, his skill in capturing these Roslyn views enabled him to earn income during the Depression. His wife, Catherine, assisting in this endeavor, would often be the one to sell the engravings and take orders for Christmas cards. Mr. Diamond also produced a number of images that were used on local diplomas and he created small maps showing the way to local estates. Active in the art scene in Roslyn, Mr. Diamond also taught classes, participated in exhibitions and was a member of a local group called the AChurch Mice,@ who met in the Presbyterian Church on East Broadway. In 1932 he moved with his wife, Catherine van Vorse, and daughter Catherine, to Glenwood Landing.

Through his friendship with author Christopher Morley, Diamond designed a map for the broadside advertising Morley's 1941 play, The Trojan Horse, which was being performed at the Millpond Playhouse in Roslyn. Today, the former playhouse building on East Broadway is the home of the Bryant Library.  Multi-talented, Mr. Diamond also painted watercolors of Roslyn buildings, designed catalogs for Hicks Nurseries and book jackets for Doubleday and other publishers. Utilizing his education and training in architecture, he also designed and made early American furniture and through the years, designed several houses. In 1958 he left Long Island and moved to Connecticut, where he built his own home. 

In 1973, Henry Diamond made a return visit to Roslyn, and through the efforts of librarian Helen Glannon, a collection of his engravings was added to the library's Local History Collection. Recently, a number of these engravings were treated by a professional conservator in anticipation of framing and hanging them in the library's Bryant Room, home to the Local History Collection. Although Mr. Diamond died in 1989, the impact of his work lives on. Roslyn poet, Norbert Krapf, selected Mr. Diamond's engraving of Roslyn Village to be on the cover of his new book, Bittersweet Along the Expressway. An October 2000 reading by Mr. Krapf at the library was well attended by the public and had as special guests, Henry Diamond's daughter, Catherine and his grandson, Russ. To celebrate the day and to reintroduce the public to Mr. Diamond's work, an exhibit of the engravings was prepared.  It was a day of great community spirit, honoring both the memory and the images of Henry Diamond and continuing the connection through the poetry of Norbert Krapf. I am once again pleased to bring Mr. Diamond's work forward to the Roslyn community. 

bottom of page