Born: Ju­ly 9, 1824, Wa­te­rbu­ry, Con­nec­ti­cut.

Died: June 16, 1910, Pro­vi­dence, Rhode Is­land.

Buried: Swan Point Ce­me­te­ry, Pro­vi­dence, Rhode Is­land.


Lewis was the son of An­son Downes and Ev­elyn Wel­ton, and hus­band of Sar­ah Ma­ria Cha­pin Downes.

As part of his ear­ly edu­cation, he re­ceived mu­sic­al train­ing un­der not­ed teach­ers of or­gan and voice. He aug­ment­ed the train­ing by se­ver­al trips to stu­dy mu­sic in ca­thed­rals and church­es in Eur­ope.

He at­tend­ed aca­de­mies at Che­shire, Wa­ter­bu­ry, and New­ton, Con­nec­ti­cut, and Tri­ni­ty Col­lege, Hart­ford, Con­nec­ti­cut (BA 1848, AM 1851).

After gra­du­ation, he be­came a law stu­dent in the of­fice of Judge Fran­cis Par­sons of Hart­ford, Con­nec­ti­cut.

Downes moved to Pro­vi­dence, Rhode Is­land, in 1855, and joined the firm of Roy­al Cha­pin, a wool deal­er and ma­nu­fac­tur­er.

For sev­er­al years, he was a mem­ber of the Epis­co­pal Church’s school com­mit­tee in Pro­vi­dence, and chair­man of the com­mittee on mu­sic.

In 1861, he be­came as­so­ci­at­ed with George W. Cha­pin in the ma­nu­fac­ture of wool­en goods.

He spent some time in Eur­ope stu­dy­ing me­thods and pro­cess­es of wool­en ma­nu­fac­tur­ers in Eng­land, France, Bel­gium, Ger­ma­ny, and Aus­tria.

Upon his re­turn to Am­er­ica, he was in­str­umen­tal in the con­struct­ion by Cha­pin’s firm of the Ri­ver­side Mills.

In 1872, Downes left the wool­en bu­si­ness. The next year, he and Eli­sha Har­ris or­ga­nized the What Cheer Mu­tu­al Fire In­sur­ance Com­pa­ny. In 1875, he or­gan­ized the Hope Mu­tu­al Fire In­sur­ance Com­pa­ny.

He was chief exe­cu­tive of­fi­cer of both com­pa­nies for 29 years.



Help Needed

If you know where to get a good pho­to of Downes (head & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),