Thanks to James Machen, a member of one of the oldest families in Toledo, we have paintings showing how Toledo looked at the very beginning. His great uncle, William H. Machen was Toledo’s earliest known artist, who migrated from Holland to Toledo in 1848. James Machen actively preserved his ancestor’s artwork and history. In doing so, he greatly honored his family, while also greatly honoring his community.
I will really miss Jim Machen, who died on November 7, 2020 at the age of 91. He was the first person I met after I created this website in 2009. We worked together to try to get William H. Machen’s Stations of the Cross restored that were damaged in a fire at the St. Francis Parish. Jim obtained permission for me to photograph the Stations, which the Bishop gave us “in an effort to preserve the paintings for posterity.” I put the photos on this website to raise awareness. We tried to raise money; we tried to get support, advice, or at least obtain an interview with the director of the art museum. When it didn’t seem likely that we would be able to restore the originals, Jim learned how to digitally retouch a set of low-res files of the photos and made a set of the 14 paintings printed on canvas at the request of Msgr. Kubacki to hang in St. Francis Parish. After the church had them for a year but did not hang them, Jim picked up the canvases and found a satisfying home for them – in a church in the Philippines.
James Machen’s family history going back to the twelfth century: