Margaret Angel was not native to Farragut, but her love for her adopted community was captured through decades of prolific artwork, some of which currently is on loan to Farragut Museum.
Ms. Angel, who passed away at 92 in 2012, painted more than 50 real-life portraits of existing and former Concord and Farragut area homes, farms, buildings and businesses, about a dozen of which are on display in the back room of the museum.
Charlie Benson’s Store, the Boyd-Harvey House, snowy Old Concord, the Prater-Oliver Smith Home and an aerial view of the Boring-Bondurant Farm are just a few of the paintings on loan from Angel’s family, and are just a fraction of her invaluable contribution to local history.
Her son, Dick Angel, said his parents, Margaret and Charles, moved from Oak Ridge to the back side of Lovell View subdivision when Dick, his brother, John, and sister, Patricia, were young.
Almost immediately, Margaret noticed her family relocated “at a time when there were families with old barns and houses that seemed to be disappearing,” he recalled. “My mother wanted to document (what was being lost) and keep them alive.”
She began recording the histories of the homes and family lands, both in writing and through her paintings, forging personal relationships with original homeowners, if possible, or their descendants.
“She enjoyed people, talking to them and really understanding them,” Dick said of his mother, who also was a school teacher in Oak Ridge and at Farragut Elementary School.
“She had a real gift about understanding and preserving history and capturing the memory of it,” he added.
“When you modernize, things change, but she interviewed the people who lived then to help preserve the sense of what it was like to be part of the community in an earlier time.”
Dick recalled his mother, who was born in Athens (McMinn County) didn’t really start painting until she was in her 50s “after the kids were out of the house. Her mom had also been an artist, working with watercolors, but mom took up oils and acrylics.”
Accuracy and perspective were key to Margaret’s work.
“It was important to her, to get it just right,” Dick recalled, adding his father was very supportive of his wife’s efforts and work.
“He would take her to the locations and sit with her and tell her, if necessary, what angles might work a little better.”
Margaret published a book filled with many of these paintings in 1986 titled “Not So Long Ago.” Dick, and his son, David Angel, updated the book in 2010, in time for Margaret’s 90th birthday. Dick wrote a new forward, and also incorporated photographs he took of how the locations of the original paintings had changed.
“It was a fun project,” Dick said. “Changes in technology allowed us to do a lot with the update. In the first edition, mom was limited by the cost to putting all the small color images of her paintings in one section, with numbers referencing the text about each picture. We were able to make the painting images larger and put them with the copy about each picture.
“She was thrilled and very surprised with the new book,” he added.
There are 32 paintings depicted in the updated volume, which currently is available for sale in the Museum Gift Shop.
“I have most of (her paintings),” Dick said. “I hope one day we will find a home for them, perhaps in the Campbell Station Inn.”
But for now, he is glad to be sharing the past with the community in the space that is available. “To display them here is a good place — I hated to just have them stored in the garage,” Dick said. “My mom loved the community, and I feel really good about what she was able to accomplish.”