Newly discovered photographs of Mrs. Bagley and her mansion, where Vivekananda stayed while in Detroit
Mrs. Frances Bagley
A Great friend and admirer of Swami Vivekananda
NEW DISCOVERY: This painting of Mrs. Frances Elizabeth Newbury Bagley (1833-1898), by Lewis Thomas Ives has never before been published in connection with the life of Swami Vivekananda. It is believed this portrait was painted between 1872 and 1882. Our view is it is rather closer to 1873, and done when she was the first lady of Michigan.
While it is true that it is a likeness done more than a decade before Vivekananda met her, it is nevertheless an excellent portrait to show the essential dignified appearance of this important and wealthy Michigan lady who was not only a friend of Vivekananda but an ardent admirer, who was so captivated by the Swami that she invited all of Detroit society to meet and to hear him.
Her husband John Judson Bagley was Governor of Michigan between 1873-1876. An interesting side note or two. One was that Bagley won two elections to two, two year terms as Governor, and that prior to that, as a member of the Detroit Board of Education, he was instrumental in desegragating Detroit schools.
NEW DISCOVERY: This photo, we believe, qualifies as a new discovery since we have not yet seen it published anywhere in connection with the life of Swami Vivekananda. It is a photo of the Bagley's mansion where Swami Vivekananda stayed during most of his visits to Detroit in 1894. It was built in 1869. The house which was located at on Grand Circus Park, near the center of Detroit. By 1910 the mansion was used to house the Michigan Conservatory of Music. It was torn down some years later to build a Statler Hotel on the site.
When Vivekananda stayed there, and was the guest of honor for a number of receptions and dinner talks, as Mrs. Bagley's guest, she was one of, if not the leader of Detroit Society. Her late husband (died 1881) was governor some 20 years before that, and prior to that had amassed a fortune in the tobacco business.
Mrs. Bagley was it seems the victim of a little, and apparently unfair scandal regarding the Swami and his stay at her house. She, according to letters, published by the Ramakrishna order, stood up to the scandal mongers and refuted thier claim that Vivekananda had behaved improperly in her house. Her letter's claim is substantiated by
other letters which have fallen into our hands- including one from Mrs. Bull, which show that the Swami was innocent of the charge of the scandal that Mrs. Bagley was forced to fire a servant girl because of the Swami's bad behavior. This lie was effectively quashed when Mrs Bagley herself revealed that she all of her servents had been with her for a long time, none of them were young (i.e. girls) and that she had not dismissed any of them whatsoever. We will soon be publishing her letter, along with Mrs. Bagley's daughter, Mrs Bull, and a letter of the Swami himself regarding the bizarre and preposterous claims. We will also reveal our opinion on the source of the scandal and how it was spread...
Mrs Bagley was the Vice chairman of the women's congress at the World's Fair and columbian exposition, which is where it is beleived she met Swami Vivekananda. Below is a photographs of her taken in connection with the World's Fair. It is interesting that in all of her known photos and in this newly published painting by Ives, Mrs. Bagley is wearing what appears to be the same necklace with a cross on it.
The picture above and below is an official photo taken in connection with the World's Fair in 1893 and were possibly taken within a few months of the Swami's meeting Mrs. Bagley, giving us a fair idea of her appearance at the time.
Mrs. Bagley (top of the left column) and the other lady managers of the Fair.
- www.vivekananda.net edited by Frank Parlato Jr.