When Conway Hall was built in 1929, a niche was built into the very fabric of the building, right at the entry. This niche was designed to display a revered piece of artwork; a bronze bust of Dr Moncure Conway, celebrated writer, abolitionist and free thinker, for whom the building was named after.
The bust had been previously on display at the society’s old headquarters South Place Chapel, just down the road, on South Place in Finsbury, London EC2. And yet, for over 80 years, the bust had never been on display at Conway Hall. And there was no reference to it anywhere in the archives. No mention that it had been lost or broken or stolen.
The only surviving bust of Conway, sculpted by Theodore Spicer-Simson, was eventually found at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, America. The sculpture was scanned using photogrammetry with a total of ~50 photographs which were then stitched together by iMakr to create a 3D printable model. Once printed to a 1:1 scale, the bust was cast in a bronze resin before being unveiled at Conway Hall on the 28th October, 2016.
The full documentary can be watched on Youtube below.
Transcript of the speech given by Dr Jim Walsh, CEO of Conway Hall, on 28th October 2016 at the unveiling ceremony of the 3D printed 'bronze' bust of Dr Moncure Conway. [Link]
Moncure Conway photograph - Edward Steichen, 1907 Courtesy of Dickinson College
Moncure Daniel Conway (March 17, 1832 – November 15, 1907) was an American abolitionist as well as at various times a Methodist, Unitarian and Freethought minister. The radical writer descended from patriotic and patrician families of Virginia and Maryland spent most of the final four decades of his life abroad in England and France, where he wrote biographies of Edmund Randolph, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Thomas Paine, as well as his own autobiography, and led freethinkers in London's South Place Chapel.
Thorough efforts have been made by Conway Hall Ethical Society to source the descendants/living relatives of Theodore Spicer-Simson. To date none have been found. In no event will Conway Hall Ethical Society nor Dickinson College be liable for any incidental, indirect, consequential, or special damages of any kind, or any damages whatsoever in connection with the use of this site or its contents or any other sites linked to this site. Please note the model is available under a share alike - strictly non-commercial - licence.