Doane Stuart

A Ton of Grace

Every morning, we rush into our offices, our classrooms, our day, and sometimes forget the things we pass as they melt into and become “part of the landscape”. It’s easy to not acknowledge, or stop and pause, at the things around us, that make us, or that have made us. Our history breathes within us every day ~ in our students, and our faculty and staff, but also in the treasures we have kept safe for over 100 years.

One of those treasures in the building weighs over a ton, and stands over 6 feet tall, she is impossible to miss. Her beauty, her gracefulness, her kindness command her space, and her details speak volumes to her creator.

The Statue of St. Agnes, carved by Sarah Malcom Freeborn, in 1870 first was placed in a niche in the St. Agnes building on Elk Street, in Albany, NY.

In 1937, the statue moved with the school to Loudonville, N.Y. She moved again in 1975, after the merger between St. Agnes and Kenwood, which became Doane Stuart.

The sculpture, restored in 2000, moved again, and this time inside, and protected, to our current home, in Rensselaer, N.Y.


Sarah Malcom Freeborn, sometimes known as “Zara M. Freeborn” or “S.M. Freeborn”, was born in 1844 in Pennsylvania, growing up just down the river from Rensselaer, in Hudson, NY. After the death of her father, Sarah went to New York City to study art. She studied under Dr. William Rimmer   at the School of Design for Women at Cooper Union, NY, where she was awarded a silver medal in 1868. She even exhibited her work at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition (the first official World’s Fair) in 1876!

Sarah was an avid traveler, and her work has been seen worldwide. Upon her mother’s death in 1887, Sarah completed the grave monument for her parents, and returned to live in Florence, Italy. After many years abroad, Sarah returned home to the U.S. and died suddenly in Boston, MA on May 31, 1906. The announcement of her death was published nationally.

In addition to the St. Agnes statue that stands beautifully in our hallway, her work is still on display in Hudson, Boston, and Europe.

As a side note, the St. Agnes statue has appeared in more yearbooks, commencement guides, and written material, than any other DS person or thing…. although, Mr. H. might be gaining on her.



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