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Introducing The Godwin Women

Frances (Bryant) Godwin

When Bryant Library namesake William Cullen Bryant’s daughter, Frances (1822-1893) married Parke Godwin in 1842, she became the first in a line of Godwin women to contribute to the life of the Roslyn community over several generations. One year later, her father purchased his Roslyn Harbor homestead, Cedarmere. Frances, called Fanny, went on to raise seven children in the Godwins' Bryant Avenue home, Montrose.

Her son, Harold Godwin (1858-1931), was instrumental in the early twentieth century restoration of the Grist Mill and construction of the Paper Mill replica that currently stands on Paper Mill Road. After a major fire in 1904, Harold restored Cedarmere and moved into the home with his wife, Elizabeth Love (Marquand) Godwin (1862-1951) and their children.

Elizabeth Love (Marquand) Godwin

Elizabeth was a founder of the Roslyn District Nursing Association and served as its president for more than 30 years. Established in 1912, the Association’s primary goal was to provide the community with a registered nurse to visit and help the sick in their homes or in the Association’s office. Elizabeth was instrumental in the group’s fundraising efforts which enabled programs such as baby clinics and in-school checkups for school children in addition to the visiting nurse. She also served as a Trustee of the Bryant Library Association for many years.

Although Elizabeth’s daughters, Elizabeth Love Godwin (1891-1975) and Frances Bryant Godwin (1892-1975), were recognized primarily as the great granddaughters of William Cullen Bryant, they each contributed to the Roslyn community. Elizabeth and Frances, known respectively to friends and family as “Lovie” and “Tiny,” along with their older brother, Frederick (who designed the Roslyn War Memorial building), had an “Open-House, carefree kind of a youth,” according to a 1940s Roslyn News article. The family divided their time between NYC, Roslyn, and other spots, along with regular travel abroad. The sisters were educated by governesses and tutors.

Elizabeth Love Godwin & Frances Bryant Godwin

Developing artistic skills she learned from her father as a child, Frances Bryant Godwin became a painter and sculptor. For many years, she used the Old Mill on the Cedarmere property as her studio.

Frances Bryant Godwin c.1920s
Cedarmere Mill

Recognized for her sculptures, Frances was also a talented painter.

Her contribution to the Bryant Library lives on in the bas relief of William Cullen Bryant she designed in 1953 to fit in the arch above the fireplace in the Library’s Helen Glannon Meeting Room. Frances eventually left New York and settled in Charleston, South Carolina.

Bas relief by Frances Bryant Godwin
Location of bas relief in the Glannon Room

Elizabeth seems to have led a quiet life centered around Cedarmere. She was a life member of the Bryant Library Board of Trustees and was instrumental in making the War Memorial Building the Library’s home after its original location, Bryant Hall, was torn down in 1946.

Roslyn War Memorial Building, 1957

Former librarian Marian Altman recalled Elizabeth as “a shy woman, not given to bursts of conversation, and reticent in her relations with people. She has great wit, however, and it is a delightful surprise when it appears.” She lived in Cedarmere until her death, and bequeathed it to Nassau County, where it is currently operated by Friends of Cedarmere.

"Lovie" Godwin on the steps of Cedarmere, 1968
Cedarmere interior

The Local History Collection is indebted to “Lovie” Godwin. She provided funds for renovating the Bryant Memorial Room that currently houses the collection, and contributed many of the books and records that were part of the Grist Mill Historical Collection that forms the foundation of the Bryant Library’s Local History Collection.

"Lovie" presenting a portrait of WCB at Roslyn High School c.1940s

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