Alpha Chi Omega


SISTER OF SIGNIFICANCE: MacDowell, Marian Nevins 

MacDowell, Marian Nevins

A prodigy pianist, Marian Nevins MacDowell (Zeta, New England Conservatory of Music) traveled to Europe to study music when she turned 18. While there, she studied under American pianist Edward MacDowell for three years. After arriving back in the United States, Marian and Edward realized their affection for one another and were married in 1884. While Edward continued with his career, Marian left music behind and did not play the piano for more than 10 years.

One summer, the couple rented a farmhouse in Peterborough, New Hampshire, which became the perfect place for Edward to compose his music amidst beauty and in solitude. Subsequently, Marian purchased a hundred-acre farm in Peterborough with a house and a few barns. Edward passed away in 1908 and Marian carried on with this vision to establish an artists’ retreat at their farm in Peterborough where artists could foster their creativity in a private, inspirational environment.  

Marian worked tirelessly to gain financial support by again playing piano, performing concerts around the county. Private organizations also began supporting the retreat, aptly named MacDowell. In 1909, under the leadership of Alta Allen Loud (Beta, Albion College), Alpha Chi Omega established a relationship and began supporting it as the Fraternity’s first philanthropic project. Alpha Chi Omega became the first outside organization to establish a studio there, the Star Studio, which was built in 1911.

In 1916, Marian was initiated into Alpha Chi Omega as a member of the Zeta chapter (New England Conservatory of Music). She also received Alpha Chi Omega’s Distinguished Service Medal in 1926 for her accomplishments in the arts and establishment of MacDowell.

Marian remained grateful for Alpha Chi Omega’s early support of her dream – one which still exists for artists at MacDowell today. She expressed her appreciation by performing at the Golden Jubilee celebration in 1935.

In 1913, Star Studio resident and playwright Elizabeth Marsh shared, “Mrs. MacDowell stands among the few who realize ... the appreciation and creation of beauty.” It was, in part, Marian’s dedication to this end that inspired Alpha Chi Omega to make February MacDowell Month, which encourages members to be patrons of the arts. Marian died at the age of 98 in August 1956.

  • First Name
  • Marian
  • Maiden Name
  • Nevins
  • Last Name
  • MacDowell
  • Profile
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