Milton’s Theatrical Designer: Robert E. Jones

By Muriel Bristol | September 20, 2020

Robert Edmond “Bobby” Jones was born in Milton, December 12, 1887, son of Fred P. and Emma J. (Cowell) Jones.

MILTON. Mrs. Fred P. Jones was in Durham last Thursday, to attend the meeting of the Eastern New Hampshire Pomona grange. Her son, Robert E. Jones, played a violin solo and she accompanied him on the piano (Farmington News, April 8, 1904).

MILTON. Principal and Mrs. Clarence E. Kelley gave a reception to the graduating class and alumni of the Nute High School last Thursday evening at their home on Farmington road. … Graduating exercises at the Nute High school occurred Wednesday evening. The graduates are Robert E. Jones, Karl E. Pinkham, Carl B. Tarbell, Stanley P. Nute, Annie B. Meikle, Ruth Fall, Addie C. Pike, Florence G. Runnels and Bessie Mayo (Farmington News, [Friday,] June 17, 1904).

POMONA GRANGE. Eastern New Hampshire Pomona Grange, No. 2, P. of H., has met this Thursday in Rochester. The exercises were: Song of Welcome; invocation by Rev. John Manter; address of welcome, F.F. Seavey, master of Rochester grange; response, G.R. Drake, State Secretary; violin solo, Robert E. Jones, Milton; address, Lecturer Richard Pattee of the state grange; music; essay, subject from Shakespeare, Katherine M. Jones; address on the Brown tail Moth, Professor E.D. Sanborn of the state college; violin solo, R.E. Jones; essay, Mrs. Anna G. Weeks; Cornucopia, Vol. 20 No. 20, Mrs. A. Scott Waldron; remarks, closing song; all these in the afternoon, and the closed session taking place in the evening, Mrs. Lizzie Lyman Fall of Milton, lecturer, in charge of the order of exercises (Farmington News, March 17, 1905).

Robert E. Jones entered Harvard College (now Harvard University) in September 1906.

MILTON. Robert Jones has been home on a vacation from Harvard college the past week (Farmington News, April 30, 1909).

MILTON. Robert Jones, who came from Harvard college to play first violin at the grammar school exercises Friday evening, the 19, returned Saturday morning (Farmington News, June 25, 1909).

Fred P. Jones, a general farm farmer, aged fifty years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Emma C. Jones, aged fifty years (b. ME), his children, Robert E. Jones, aged twenty-two years (b. NH), Philip C. Jones, aged eighteen years (b. NH), Elisabeth J. Jones, aged fifteen years (b. NH), and Allice V. Jones, aged thirteen years (b. NH), and his servant, Henry M. Bowens, a farm laborer, aged fifty-five years (b. CT).

Harvard College conferred an A.B. degree cum laude upon Robert E. Jones in Cambridge, MA, on an “uncommonly warm day,” June 29, 1910. Among the dignitaries present were ex-President Theodore Roosevelt and John Pierpont Morgan (Boston Globe, June 29, 1910).

Jones, Robert E - NY181013Robert Edmond Jones … One ought to tell something about “the man by the name of Jones.” He was born on a New Hampshire farm. He did the chores, played the violin (Hiram Kelly Moderwell, who has written an excellent biographical sketch of him, tells this) and went through the local school. And then by the usual sacrifices on the part of a none too prosperous American family, he was enabled to go to college. He did not distinguish himself especially there. He showed some taste for drawing, and when he was graduated he was given an instructorship in the art department. He was vaguely unhappy there. The academic art curriculum of the college took no grip on his imagination. Some modernistic posters stimulated him as nothing else had. A bit of rich material or a bizarre figure thrilled him. An occasional thing at the music halls released his creative faculties, and the first things he ever did were some costume designs for Valeska Suratt. All this could not help his work at college, and failure to make up his required work gave the faculty sufficient excuse to drop him. Then he went through the usual period of poverty and depression and aimlessness, somehow continually feeling the way toward his appointed goal. For a time this young Harvard ex-art teacher dressed windows at a Boston department store, and in the meantime made some bizarre costume sketches for Gertrude Hoffman’s revue. They fell into Morris Gest’s hands, who sent for Jones. The things he did at the time were wild and exotic, the untrained outpourings of his rich imagination, but Gest used a few of them with modification. Then his work came to the notice of one who saw in the revolutionary, exotic, posteresque things that Jones was doing something of the artistic fecundity that lay behind it, and he advised him to go to Europe and study with the best men there. So he went abroad, and the work he showed was an open sesame that admitted him as pupil to the Moscow Art Theatre and Reinhardt’s Theatre. At the Art Theatre in Moscow he learned the spirit of the modern theatre and with Reinhardt he learned craftsmanship. And long before the war drove him back to America we begin to hear of the quality of his work (New York Tribune, October 13, 1918).

Robert Edmond Jones registered with the American consulate in Berlin, Germany, February 18, 1914. He was born in Milton, N.H. December 12, 1887, and had left the United States, June 25, 1913, arriving in Berlin, Germany, September 15, 1913, where he was engaged in “studying paintings.” His local address was Goethestr 69, i.e., 69 Goethe Strasse [Street], and the person to be informed in case of death or accident was F.P. Jones of Milton, N.H.

Robert E. Jones of Milton, NH, aged twenty-six years (b. Milton, NH, December 12, 1887), sailed from Liverpool, England, on the S.S. St. Louis, September 26, 1914, arriving in New York, NY, October 3, 1914.

Diagheleff Ballet Russe. … In the repertory of twelve dances there will be four numbers which have never before been presented in this city. Foremost of these is “Mephisto Valse,” a ballet conceived by Nijinsky during his internment in Austria the summer before last. It is a mimodrama of the familiar scene of Faust and Mephisto in the inn, and will be danced to the well-known composition of Franz Liszt. The costumes and decors for this ballet were designed by Robert Edmond Jones, a young American artist. He is the first American ever invited to contribute to the output of the Diaghileff organization. “Mephisto Valse” will have its world premier in New York next week (Philadelphia Inquirer, October 15, 1916).

Robert Edmond Jones registered for the WW I military draft in New York, NY, June 5, 1917. He was a self-employed theatrical decorator & designer of community [theatre], aged twenty-nine years (b. Milton, NH, December 12, 1887), resident at 51 W. 10th Street. He was of tall height, with a slender build, brown eyes, and brown hair.

SEARCH FOR STAGE SETTINGS FOR TOLSTOI. Russian Atmosphere Lacking in New York, Says Manager. When Robert Edmond Jones was informed last spring that John Barrymore would act Feyda in Tolstoi’s “Redemption” at the Plymouth theatre some time in the autumn and that Mr. Barrymore and company would expect to find a production in which to act, at the appointed hour Mr. Jones set off to the four quarters of the city to see where best he could pick up the trail of Russia in the new world and how distinctive a Russian background he could assemble 4,000 miles from home. He went down on the East Side to the Russian quarter, where he spent weeks walking the streets and peering into windows. He found that here was Russia enough in New York to put on a hundred plays, but that most of the material immediately to hand was either too shoddy for his aristocratic drawing rooms or too new and too conventional for his gypsy haunts. Mr. Jones’ eleven scenes for “Redemption” went from wealthy homes in Moscow to wretched dives under the old city bridges. There was no faltering in the hero’s descent to Avernus and no place for a half way house. Found a Bench. Mr. Jones says that in these first days of trudging he used to thank his stars he had plenty of time. His first find was at the low end of his scale. It was an old bench dumped on the sidewalk before a shop in whose windows burnished new samovars asked for his attention. He went to the door of the shop and asked for the proprietor. An elderly Russian came out and Mr. Jones asked if he would exchange his old bench for a new one, made by a fine carpenter, and painted. The Russian’s smile faded and was replaced by a vacant stare. This in turn became distrust. “What you want bench about?” Mr. Jones explained that he was putting on a play in a theatre and that his scene needed just that bench for gypsies to sit on. The Russian shook his head and scowled. Mr. Jones explained all over again. After a moment the Russian beamed. “For pictures?” he demanded, and when the somewhat nonplussed Mr. Jones said yes he got the bench. In still later quests Mr. Jones had another piece of fortune. He found in a shop below Washington Square embroideries and extraordinarily old brasses in the window, but the door was locked and the shop was keeperless. He went back on four or five days until finally he found some one there. He rushed in impetuously and said: “I want the contents of your shop.” The startled little lady asked him where were his senses. He explained who he was and for what he wanted Russian treasures, and then and there made an ally. Miss Fania Mindell, whose trove he had invaded, had seen “Redemption” in Moscow, and knew the Russian Tolstoi had written there. She hauled out rare old shawls, bedspreads, all manners of brasses and pewter pieces, mirrors and such. Then she produced costumes. Now Mr. Jones hadn’t begun to worry about costumes yet, but he seized his moment. Miss Mindell knew how to design what had to be made, but better still she knew how to find what had to be found (Calgary Herald, November 16, 1918).

Robert Jones of the Plymouth Theatre, W. 45th Street, New York, NY, aged thirty-one years (b. Milton, NH, December 12, 1887), sailed from Le Havre, France, on the S.S. La Savoie, August 30, 1919, arriving in New York, NY, September 8, 1919.

Theater Gossip. George Washington will appear for the first time as the central figure of a drama, on his own birthday, at the capital city which bears his name, in the three-act prize play, “George Washington,” by Percy McKaye, with Walter Hampden in the title-role and with scenic productions by Robert Edmond Jones. Contracts have just been signed with the Shuberts for its opening at the Belasco Theater, Washington, to be followed by a New York run (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 25, 1920).

Fred P. Jones, a lumberman, aged sixty years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Emma C. [(Cowell)] Jones, aged sixty years (b. ME), and his children, Charles Jones, YMCA Physical Education work, aged thirty-four years (b. NH), Robert E. Jones, a theatrical costume designer, aged thirty-two years (b. NH), Elizabeth Jones (b. NH), aged twenty-five years (b. NH), and Alice V. Jones, aged twenty-three years (b. NH). Fred P. Jones owned their farm on the Plummer’s Ridge Road. The census enumerator recorded their household between those of Charles E. Perkins, a lumberman teamster, aged fifty-three years (b. NH), and Bard B. Plummer, a farmer, aged forty years (b. NH).

Robert Edmond Jones, whose stage-sets have made him the most talked-of scenic artist in the country, is of a decidedly Messianic cast of countenance. He is, we should say, in his middle thirties. Artist and dreamer – these two terms are expressed everywhere in him. The Barrymore Macbeth, O’Neill’s “Anna Christie,” “Steamship Tenacity,” “Swords” and the Ben Ami flop, “The Idle Inn,” are among his recent settings. With him, as Kenneth MacGowan points out in his [article] lie what seem to be the higher possibilities for beautiful staging in this country. J.V.A.W. [John V.A. Weaver] (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 14, 1922).

Robert Edmond Jones of the Plymouth Theatre, an artist, applied for a replacement passport in New York, NY, March 14, 1922. He was born in Milton, NH, December 12, 1887, son of Fred P. Jones, and had resided previously in Italy and Germany, between July 1913 and November 1914; in England, between May 1919 and August 1919. His previous passport had been destroyed by him. He intended to sail on the S.S. Mauretania, on April 4, 1922, to do artistic work in France & Italy; Germany & Austria; and Sweden; and to travel in the British Isles, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and Gibraltar. He was thirty-four years of age, 6′ in height, had an oblong face, with a medium nose, grey-green eyes, a high forehead, reddish brown hair, and a fair complexion. He had a mustache and a bearded chin, with an indelible mark on his left mandible. Kenneth Macgowan, a journalist [for Vogue magazine], of Pelham Manor, NY, swore to having known him for fourteen years.

The invasion of Germany by American theatrical people continues. Close upon the heels of Brock Pemberton and Al Woods, New York producers, Kenneth MacGowan, critic, and Robert Edmond Jones, one of the best of America’s scenic decorators, have arrived in Berlin. William A. Brady, accompanied by Grace George, will be here within a month. According to indications, however, few results from these visits will be apparent on the American stage next season, save, perhaps, in the matter of scenic lighting equipment, for managers report there are few plays here that could be considered safe ventures for America. Among the outstanding transactions has been the purchase by the Selwyns of “Die Wunderlichen Geschichten des Kappellmeister Kreisler,” which embodies a unique two-level stage with six or seven separate rooms in view of the audience, and the purchase of “Die Ballerina des Koenigs,” by Simeon Gest. This play, which deals with the love affairs of Frederick the Great and Barberina, his Italian premier danseuse and mistress, is scheduled to be the vehicle in which Geraldine Farrar will appear under Belasco management in New York in the fall (Chicago Tribune, May 14, 1922).

Robert Jones of the Harvard Club, 27 W. 44th Street, New York, NY, aged thirty-four years (b. Milton, NH, December 12, 1887), sailed from Cherbourg, France, on the S.S. Majestic, June 28, 1922, arriving in New York, NY, July 4, 1922.

Robert Edmond Jones of Milton, NH, applied for a replacement passport in New York, NY, March 14, 1923. He was born in Milton, NH, December 12, 1887, son of Fred P. Jones, and had resided previously in Italy and Germany, between June 1912 and August 1914, i.e., until the start of WW I; in England, between May 1919 and August 1919; and in Germany, France, and Austria, in 1922. His previous passport, which had been issued by the Secretary of State, March 15, 1922, had been destroyed by fire.

SJones, Rober E - Passport, 1923ecretary of State, Washington, D.C. Sir: I hereby state that I obtained a passport from Washington about March 15, 1922, and used it in the countries mentioned in my application. On my return to the United States I destroyed this passport by fire, having no further use for it. Robert Edmond Jones, March 14, 1923.

Jones intended now to go to England, France, and Germany, for artistic work, and planned to depart on the Carmania, March 24, 1923. He was described as being thirty-five years of age, 5′ 11″ tall, with a high forehead, grey eyes, a square face, with a medium nose, brown hair, and a fair complexion. He had a moustache and goatee and wore glasses. Raymond Sovey, an artist, of 142 W 39th Street, confirmed his identity. He had known Jones for five years.

HOPKINS SAILING FOR ‘ANNA CHRISTIE’ LONDON OPENING. Arthur Hopkins will sail today on the Majestic to supervise the presentation of Pauline Lord in Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie” at the Strand Theatre. The production will be made in association with Charles B. Cochran on Tuesday evening, April 10. Miss Lord, Robert Edmond Jones and members of the company sailed previously. The London production will be identical with the one offered by Mr. Hopkins at the Vanderbilt Theatre when “Anna Christie” won the Pulitzer prize (March 31, 1923).

Robert Edmond Jones was characterized in a review by St. John Ervine of the London Observer as a principal American proponent of Expressionist theatrical staging.

At the Play. THE MACHINE-WRECKERS. (By St. John Ervlne.) Last, Sunday I reviewed “Continental Stagecraft,” by Mr. Kenneth MacGowan and Mr. Robert Edmond Jones, the principal exponents in America of the theatrical theory known as Expressionism. In the same issue of The Observer, criticising “Angelo,” at Drury Lane, I asked whether this piece would satisfy the desires of the Expressionists. Since then I have received a copy of Mr. Ashney Dukes’s translation of Ernst Toller’s “Die Machinensturmer,” and the latest issue of the “Theatre Arts Magazine,” of New York. This magazine is edited by, amongst others, Mr. Kenneth MacGowan. My question about “Angelo” is answered in Mr. MacGowan’s article, in which he surveys recent productions in New York. “Angelo,” which ought to be named “Johannes Kreisler” – I suppose some Ruhrotic had barked at Mr. Arthur Collins and frightened him into changing the German name for an Italian one – does not satisfy Mr. McGowan. He says:- It is a feat in pure mechanics, and it wrecked whatever of play there was in “Johannes Kreisler,” … The American actors … were most effectively lost in the scurry of dodging about from one little stage to another, as they rolled out on the big stage and were illuminated. The forty-two episodes in the life of the composer Kreisler became merely a movie awkwardly mounted in a place where it should never have been seen. Machinery instead of dramatic art; tricks with lights instead of acting. I could not have expressed my contempt for some of the Expressionist theory more thoroughly than Mr. McGowan has here expressed it (London Observer, April 23, 1923).

Stage Designs by Robert Edmond Jones At Bourgeois Galleries. The Bourgeois Gallerles have opened their exhibition season with a collection of stage designs bv Robert Edmond Jones, comprising 38 drawings and water colors and one miniature model. The collection adequately outlines the achievements of our foremost stage designer, including the early designs made in 1915 for “The Man Who Married a Dumb Wife” down to his most recent stage designs for “Desire Under the Elms” and “A Love for a Love.” While many of us have followed Mr. Jones’ career as it appears in its final version on the stage, few of us have had the opportunity of seeing the designs as they are first conceived and worked out by the artist. It will, therefore, come as a surprise to many that a stage design can exist for itself as a work of art. Irrespective of whether or not that design will ever be developed in three dimensions. Stage designs such as those by Robert Edmond Jones are a crystallizing, a setting down in graphic calligraphy, of another artist’s idea. Later on stage technicalities must be considered, but in their initial state they are emotional, often mystical, statements in graphic form. Stark Young acutely synthesizes the stage designer’s function in the prologue which he has written for the catalogue; “Each of these drawings furthers and reveals the meaning and the characters and the events and conveys the shock of their vitality [as] they sing the dramatist’s song. But they sing the singer, too. He himself creates within the part assigned him” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 25, 1925).

Howland Memorial Prize. Announcement was made of the award of the Howland Memorial prize to Robert Edmond Jones, BA, Harvard ’10, designer for “The Man Who Married a Dumb Wife,” “The Jest,” “Richard III,” “The Birthday of the Infanta,” “Macbeth,” “Redemption,” etc. The Howland Memorial prize is awarded in recognition of some achievement of marked distinction in the field of literature or fine arts or the science of government (Boston Globe, June 23, 1926).

Director of Plays To Give Lecture. BERKELEY, July 5. Robert Edmond Jones, director of Eugene O’Neill’s plays, will give the first of a series of lectures on the modern play at 8 o’clock tomorrow night in room 11, Wheeler hall, under the auspices of the University of California summer session. The dates of his other lectures are July 8, 13, 15, 20 and 22, every alternative lecture, beginning Friday, to be given at 4 o’clock in the afternoon (Oakland Tribune, July 5, 1927).

Plymouth to Open. Arthur Hopkins will open his season at the Plymouth Theater on Wednesday evening, Sept. 4, when he will present “Blow the Man Down,” a comedy drama by Kate Parsons, with Walter Huston in the leading role. The settings and costumes have been designed by Robert Edmond Jones, and the play is being staged by Mr. Hopkins (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 15, 1929).

BOOKS for XMAS. THE GREEN PASTURES BY MARC CONNELLY. The Pulitzer Prize Play is now available in three editions: a limited signed edition, illustrated by Robert Edmond Jones, $25.00; regular illustrated edition, $5.00; unillustrated, $2.00 (Chicago Tribune, December 6, 1930).

Art. New Shows. The Bourgeois Galleries are now having something unusual in the way of exhibitions. This novelty consists of a display of the work of Robert Edmond Jones, a distinguished designer of stage scenery and costumes. Jones is an enormously prolific artist, having done the designing for forty-two plays, seven operas and five masques. In such a volume of work, one would expect to find at least here and there the stigmata of mere craftsmanship and mass production, but this artist has always maintained a high standard of individuality and sincerity. This record he has achieved through careful selection of the productions with which he has been allied; he has realized his responsibility as a pioneer in this new and potentially important field for art. The examples of his work shown in the present exhibit have a strange and haunting appeal. M.N. (Brainard Bulletin, April 1, 1932).

Robert E. Jones received a five-year contract to stage annual play festivals at the newly refurbished opera house in Central City, CO, in 1932.

Robert E. Jones married in Greenwich, CT, June 21, 1933, Margaret (Huston) Carrington. (She was the widow of millionaire financier William T. Carrington of Greenwich, CT, who died May 4, 1931). She was born in Toronto, Canada, August 29, 1879, daughter of Robert M. and Elizabeth (McGibbon) Huston.

Huston, MargaretMRS. W.T. CARRINGTON IS WED TO R.E. JONES. Widow of Financier and Sister of Walter Huston Is Bride of Noted State Designer. Special to the New York Times. GREENWICH, Conn., June 21 – Mrs. Margaret Huston Carrington, widow of W.T. Carrington of New York, formerly of North Greenwich, was married to Robert Edmund Jones of New York today. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Dr. Oliver Huckel, pastor of the Second Congregational Church, Greenwich, at the home of the bride’s sister, Miss Ann Huston, in North Greenwich. A small reception followed the ceremony. The couple will spend the Summer in Colorado and will make their future home in New York. Mr. Jones is one of the leading theatrical designers in this country. He first gained prominence in that field with his settings for “The Man Who Married a Dumb Wife,” produced in Wallack’s Theatre in 1915 by Harvey Granville-Barker, and has since added to his reputation with productions for Arthur Hopkins and the Theatre Guild. During the past season he did the settings and costumes for Katherine Cornell’s production of “Lucrece” and also for “Nine Pine Street.” He was also engaged until January as art director for the RKO theatres in Radio City. He has been actively interested in the productions of the Dramatic Festival at Central City, Col., where he will direct this season a revival of “The Merry Widow.” He is 45 years old, and is a member of the Harvard Club and The Players. Mrs. Carrington is the widow of William Theodore Carrington, financier. She is the sister of Walter Huston, the actor. Her home is 720 Park Avenue (New York Times, June 21, 1933).

Jones Arrives with Bride. Denver, July 3. – Robert Edmond Jones of New York, who will direct the production of “The Merry Widow” during the play festival at Central City opera house this summer, arrived here today with his bride, the former Margaret Huston Carrington. They were married last month in the east. Jones said he would remain here several days before proceeding to Central City (Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, CO), July 5, 1933).

“Of medium height, solidly built, with red-gold hair and compelling blue eyes, she [Margaret Huston] projected physical vitality, psychic intensity and an imperturbable air of authority” (Morrison, 1999).

Designer Will Return for “Becky Sharp.” Robert Edmond Jones, genius of the theater who conceived the color schemes for Radio’s outstanding short subject, “La Cucaracha,” soon to be distributed, will act in the same capacity on “Becky Sharp,” when the Thackeray novel (otherwise “Vanity Fair”) gets started. Jones recently staged his annual drama festival in Central City, the Colorado ghost town, doing “Othello” with Walter Huston. John Hay Whitney is producing the new picture, which will go before the cameras in October (Los Angeles Times, August 29, 1934).

Max Reinhardt May Be Signed By RKO To Direct Production. By LOUELLA O. PARSONS (Motion Picture Editor Universal Service.) (Copyright by Universal Service Inc.) LOS ANGELES Sept 27 – Well, it seems to be fairly certain one of the studios will corral Max Reinhardt before he leaves California what with all the publicity given Midsummer Night’s Dream and his interest in the movies. Just at the moment it looks as if RKO might be that studio. Robert Edmond Jones, well known scenic artist, who is now in Italy cabled his former teacher and asked him to take a look at La Cucaracha, the film made with the technicolor Invention. If Reinhardt likes the picture he will make arrangements with Kenneth MacGowan, associate producer, to direct an entire color production for Pioneer Pictures. Of course that means Jack Whitney’s money will be backing it (Sacramento Bee, September 27, 1934).

Robert Jones of 760 Park Avenue, New York, NY, aged forty-six years (b. Milton, NH, December 12, 1887), sailed from Genoa, Italy, on the S.S. Conte di Savoia, September 20, 1934, arriving in New York, NY, September 27, 1934. He was accompanied by his wife, Margaret Jones of the same address, aged fifty years, a citizen by marriage.

Today’s Birthdays. Robert E. Jones, New York theatrical designer, born at Milton, N.H., 47 years ago (Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, IN), December 12, 1934).

“BECKY SHARP,” IN COLORS, SCENIC THEATRE, ROCHESTER. With the coming of color in motion pictures, the limited impressionism of the black and white screen become outmoded. No longer will it be possible by clever shifts to create a sense of the genuine. The technicolor camera photographs objects as they are. A fake of any kind is quickly recognized for what it is. On the black and white screen, line and cut of clothes determine their style. Today the coutourier of the films has to meet the demands of color and fabric. Robert Edmond Jones, designer for “Becky Sharp,” a full color feature, shows damask that is damask, and Miriam Hopkins and Frances Dee exactly, as they would look at an evening dansant. See “Becky Sharp” at the Scenic Theatre, Rochester, next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (Farmington News, July 19. 1935).

Robert Jones of 760 Park Avenue, New York, NY, aged forty-nine years (b. Milton, NH, December 12, 1887), sailed from Liverpool, England, on the S.S. Franconia, August 7, 1937, arriving in New York, NY, August 17, 1937. He was accompanied by his wife, Margaret H. Jones of the same address, aged fifty years, a citizen by marriage.

Robert C. Jones, a stage design artist, aged fifty-one years (b. NH), headed a Greenwich, CT, household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Margaret H. Jones, aged fifty-four years (b. Canada (Fr.)), his personal servant, Mae L. Anderson, a personal maid, aged fifty-five years (b. Sweden), and his housekeeper, Hilda Gullstrand, a housekeeper, aged forty-one years (b. Sweden). Robert E. Jones owned their house on Quebec Ridge Road, which was valued at $75,000.

Jones, Robert E - Dramatic ImaginationTHE BOOKSHELF. THE DRAMATIC IMAGINATION. by Robert Edmond Jones (Duell, Sloan & Pearce): Robert Edmond Jones probably knows as much about the American theater as any other living man. In this present volume he discusses costume, lighting, theater history, modem drama, acting and many other essentials of the theater. He goes beyond the present and describes the theater of the future. His historical account is most informative, and his forecast is provocative. An essential volume for anyone interested in the American theater (Birmingham News, March 29, 1941).

Robert Edmond Jones registered for the WW II military draft in New York, NY, April 27, 1942. He was a stage designer, aged fifty-four years (b. Milton, NH, December 12, 1887), resident at 760 Park Avenue. He was 6′ tall, weighing 165 pounds, with hazel eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion. His telephone number was BU 8-5958, His personal contact was [his brother,] Charles Jones, 48 Caryl Avenue, Yonkers, NY.

Margaret (Huston) Jones died at her Summer home in Greenwich, CT, August 1, 1942, aged sixty-two years.

MRS. R.E. JONES, WIFE OF SCENIC ARTIST, DIES. Former London Concert Singer Was Sister of Walter Huston. SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES. GREENWICH, Conn., Aug. 1 – Mrs. Margaret Huston Jones of 760 Park Avenue, New York, wife of Robert Edmond Jones, the scenic designer, and sister of Walter Huston, the actor, died here this morning at her Summer home on Quaker Ridge, after a long illness. As a young woman Mrs. Jones studied singing abroad and frequently appeared on the London concert stage in the years just before the first World War, receiving especial praise for her interpretations of Debussy and Hugo Wolff. Later she made herself an expert on the speaking voice, and was consulted by many experienced actors and actresses. In 1915 she was married to William T. Carrington, prominent grain broker and music patron, who was president and chief financial backer of the American Opera Company. He died in 1931 at the age of 76, leaving to his widow most of his estate of $1,639,731. Two years later the former Margaret Y. Huston was married to Robert Edmond Jones. She was a member of the Colony Club of New York. She was born in Toronto, a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Robert Moore Huston of that city. Besides her husband and her brother, Walter, she leaves another brother, Alexander Huston, and a sister, Miss Nan Huston, both of Toronto (New York Times, August 1, 1942).

Obituary. MRS. MARGARET H. JONES. Sister of Walter Huston, Actor. Mrs. Margaret Huston Jones, wife of Robert Edmond Jones, the scenic designer, and sister of Walter Huston, actor, died yesterday at her Summer home in Greenwich, Conn. A native of Toronto, Mrs. Jones was a singer in her youth, and later, as an expert in diction, coached John Barrymore and other stars. Her home in New York was at 760 Park Ave. (Daily News (New York, NY), August 2, 1942).

Robert E. Jones collaborated in a charity performance of the Crucifixion of Christ to benefit starving children. Conductor Leopold Stokowski conducted the accompanying Bach’s St. Matthew Passion music at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, NY, April 9, 1943.

Will Be Conducted By Stokowski. Leopold Stokowski is conducting the performance, with George Balanchine and Robert Edmond Jones as his collaborators. Soloists will be Eleanor Steber, soprano; Lucius Metz, tenor; Jennie Tourel, mezzo soprano, and Gerhard Pechner, basso. Glen Darwin, baritone, will represent the voice of Christ. The figure of Christ will not appear on the stage, but will be represented instead by a column of golden light. The Collegiate Chorale, an orchestra of 80, and a cast of mimes, all from the American Ballet School, will participate. Lillian Gish will portray Mary Magdalen (Daily News (New York, NY), April 4. 1943).

Robert Edmond Jones’ last production effort was preparing the sets and costumes for a second revival of Marc Connolly’s Green Pastures.

‘Green Pastures’ Returns Tonight. New York’s third production of Marc Connelly’s “The Green Pastures” opens tonight at 8 at the Broadway. Done first in 1930, the play was revived in 1935. Connelly has directed the Negro cast, Robert Edmond Jones has designed the sets and costumes and Hall Johnson will conduct the choir. The production is being offered by the Dwight Deere Wiman estate in association with Harry Fromkes (Daily News (New York, NY), March 15, 1951).

He cancelled a planned speaking tour in February 1951 “due to illness” (Journal and Courier, (Lafayette, IN), February 13, 1951).

Robert E. Jones died in the family home on Plummer’s Ridge in Milton, November 26, 1954, aged sixty-six years.

Jones, Robert E - NY541127 - DetailR.E. JONES IS DEAD; STAGE DESIGNER, 67. Leader in Development of the Modern Theatre Did Sets for Many O’Neill Dramas. Robert Edmond Jones, considered one of the most influential forces in the development of the modern American theatre, died yesterday morning in Milton, N.H., at the home of his sisters, the Misses Elizabeth and Alice Varney Jones. His age was 67. He had been in failing health after undergoing an operation a year ago, but apparently had improved sufficiently to plan to return next week to New York, where, for nearly thirty years, he had been one of the theatre’s foremost stage designers. Mr. Jones was born at Milton, the son of Dr. and Mrs. Fred P. Jones, and lived in that village until 1906 when he left to attend Harvard. His artistic talent was expressed early, first in drawing, which attracted attention when he was 10 years old. His mother, a concert pianist before her marriage, taught him to play violin, and at Harvard he played in the college orchestra. After graduating from Harvard in 1910, Mr. Jones stayed on for two years as an instructor in the Fines Arts Department, and began to be interested in theatre. He worked for a time as a costume designer for Comstock and Gest in New York. Early in 1913, Mr. Jones went to Europe. He visited Italy, hoping to study theatrical art at Gordon Craig’s school in Florence, but was rebuffed. He went instead to Germany where he had the run of Max Reinhardt’s Deutsches Theatre for a year. Scored on Return. Back in New York, Mr. Jones designed the settings for Anatole France’s “The Man Who Married a Dumb Wife.” When the curtain rose on Jan. 27, 1915, at Wallack’s Theatre, audience and critics gasped with admiration. Thereafter Mr. Jones’ reputation as an artist-designer was secure and inspiring. Influenced by him, stage designing developed to the point where designers achieved equal importance with directors. Mr. Jones’ settings were designed to project more fully the playwright’s thought. Departing from the old realism epitomized by David Belasco, he drew on imagination, color and lighting to enhance the play visually, and he designed the costumes as well. Of his designs for “The Lute Song,” Lewis Nichols wrote, in The New York Times in 1946: “What has come from the easel and the soaring imagination of an artist is easily the most beautiful background given to any play in recent years.” “His colors flow across the stage in an ever-flowing pageant which seems to stretch out beyond the confines of the theatre. They swirl with the dancers and add majesty and dignity to the lives they touch.” Arthur Hopkins saw “The Man Who Married a Dumb Wife,” in 1915, and immediately engaged Mr. Jones, whose first production for him, “The Devil’s Garden,” in December of the same year, is still praised by theatrical historians. Worked for Arthur Hopkins. Successive designs for Mr. Hopkins’ productions were equally noteworthy and equally revolutionary. During the next five years, Mr. Jones designed the scenes for seventeen plays, two ballets and five masques, mostly for Mr. Hopkins. In 1921, Mr. Jones began working with Eugene O’Neill when Mr. Hopkins produced the latter’s “The Hairy Ape.” Subsequently Mr. Jones was the designer for O’Neill’s “Anna Christie,” “Desire Under the Elms,” “Morning Becomes Electra,” “Ah, Wilderness,” “The Ice Man Cometh,” and others. Mr. Jones also designed for many other plays, and for ballet and opera, including productions of the Metropolitan. His most recent production was a revival, in 1951, of Marc Connolly’s “Green Pastures,” whose original success was in part attributed to Mr. Jones’ designs. Yale University presented the Howland Memorial Prize to Mr. Jones, and in 1933 he received the Fine Arts Medal of the American Institute of Architects for conspicuous attainment as a designer for the theatre. He was a member of the National Institute of Arts. Mr. Jones’ writing included “The Dramatic Imagination,” a book published in 1941. In 1933, Mr. Jones married Margaret Huston Carrington, who dies in August, 1942. A singer, she had been the voice coach to John Barrymore and Lillian Gish. She was the sister of the late Walter Huston, the actor. Surviving, in addition to his two sisters, are two brothers, the Rev. Dr. Philip C. Jones of New York and Charles Jones of Yonkers (New York Times, November 27, 1954).

Obituary. Robert Edmund Jones. MILTON, N.H., Nov. 26. (AP) – Robert Edmund Jones, 66, a pioneer in modern stage design, died today after a long illness. Jones, born here, was associated early in his career with Eugene O’Neill in many productions of the Provincetown Playhouse. Jones designed sets for John Barrymore’s “Richard III” and “Hamlet.” He also designed sets for the productions of O’Neill’s “Desire Under the Elms” and “The Iceman Cometh.” His most recent production was a revival in 1951 of Marc Connelly’s “Green Pastures.” He also had designed the sets for the original production. Jones wrote several books on stagecraft and theater design, and had a hand in one of the earliest color motion pictures, a 1935 short called “La Cucaracha.” In 1933 he married Margaret Huston, a well known theatrical coach and a sister of Actor Walter Huston. She died in 1942. Jones is survived by two brothers, the Rev. Dr. Philip C. Jones of New York and Charles Jones of Yonkers, and two sisters, Miss Elizabeth Jones and Miss Alice Varney Jones, of Milton, at whose home he died (Hartford Courant, November 27, 1954).


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Author: Muriel Bristol

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