University Museums

Title: LaVerne W. Noyes, 1849-1919; Iowa State College, Class of 1872
Name: Portrait
Date: c. 1935
Medium: Oil on linen
Dimensions: 30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm)
Inscription: Laverne W. Noyes, '72 [Iowa State College, Class of 1872] Founder and manufacturer, Aermotor Company, Chicago, Ill. Donor for scholarships for World War I Veterans and Their Children
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Commisioned by Iowa State College. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.
Object Number: U82.124
More Information
LaVerne W. Noyes, the inventor and businessman who donated much of the expertise and funding for the construction of the lake. Mr. Noyes was born in Genoa, N.Y. on January 7 1849, the son of Leonard and Jane Noyes. He and his family moved to Springville, Iowa in 1854. He attended ISU and received his B.S. in General Science in 1872. In addition to his interests in science and engineering, he was one of the inaugural members of the Crescent Literary Society he helped form in 1870. At ISU, he met Ida Elizabeth Smith (ISU 1874) of Charles City, and they were married in 1877. He went to work inventing haying tools that were manufactured by U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Co. of Batavia, Illinois. By the early 1880's he had formed a Chicago company to manufacture dictionary stands and farm equipment.

Through his work with U.S. Wind Engine, Mr. Noyes became acquainted with another inventor, Thomas Perry, who had developed revolutionary wind-power technology while working for this company. Since U.S. Wind Engine rejected Perry's ideas, in 1883 Noyes founded a Chicago company called Aermotor, Co., to manufacture highly efficient wind engines. These "windmills" were developed using meticulous experimentation, and were 87% more efficient than the common wooden wheels in use at the time. This business was very successful, and is still one of the major manufacturers of wind-driven pumps today.

In 1914, Mr. Noyes wanted to help beautify the ISU campus so donated the services of O.C. Simonds, a famous landscape gardener, to study the needs of the campus. Mr. Simonds recommended damming College Creek to make a lake. The lake was built in 1915, with Mr. Noyes paying the $10,000 price of construction. The lake is now a small impoundment that fills the old valley and bed of College Creek where it crossed into the campus from its source south of the city of Ames.

Published References: As early as 1906, a well respected art writer referred to Louis Betts as a "genius." He pointed out the artist’s originality, technique, and "ability to see, comprehend, and utilize some aspects of nature that most artists do not grasp." Often likened to *John Singer Sargent in his work, Betts was a superb figure painter and was skillful with a fully loaded brush, with which he rendered objects among a variety of colorful textures in carefully arranged spaces. As the son of Edwin Daniel Betts, an accomplished painter, Louis’s artistic ambitions were encouraged during his youth. According to one account, Louis executed his first portrait commission at the age of fourteen and received payment in the form of violin lessons. Music became an avocation for him. After Louis’s mother died, his father married one of her sisters, but he found it difficult to make a living as a professional artist in Little Rock, Arkansas. Soon the Betts family moved to Chicago, where Louis, as the eldest of several children, earned his living by painting vignettes on tea trays and working at other incidental decoration jobs. By the early 1890s, he was doing more lucrative commercial art work, including illustrations. Louis studied oil painting under his father and in his early twenties began to submit work to various local exhibitions. By 1898, Louis lived at 4720 Calumet Avenue and had already exhibited at the *Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Artists’ Show. He painted typical American *genre subjects, such as Old Fish Shanties, Mother is Gone, and Where Birds Stay. By working as an illustrator, he was able to provide for his new bride, Miss Kirchenknabe, and also study painting at the Art Institute. Around the turn of the century, he was drawn to New York, where jobs in illustration abounded. In 1901, Betts showed portrait drawings to the art director of St. Nicholas magazine, A.W. Drake, who advised him to stop "wasting . . . time illustrating" and join the summer painting classes at *Shinnecock Hills Summer School (Long Island) under *William Merritt Chase. One week later, Betts and his wife were living in a Shinnecock Hills boarding house after he had become a student of Chase. Betts was capable of producing a portrait likeness, but when Chase saw one of them, he exploded: "I don’t want perfect likenesses painted in my class. . . .I want to take hold of the nose and reach back for an ear." Betts’s wife had to convince her husband to remain at Shinnecock; however, by the end of the summer, he won the Whiting Prize. The influence of Chase’s Shinnecock landscape style remained evident in Betts’s few canvases of such subjects painted during his career. His practical application of a style roughly tied to impressionism came primarily as a result of study under Chase. Completely won over by Chase, he followed him to the *Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for the following fall semester. While living on Cherry Street in one small room of a boarding house, Betts eked out a living from a commission to illustrate Emerson Hough’s The Bad Man. When other commercial jobs were refused, he was able to devote ample time to painting. Betts was rewarded for his perseverance in 1902, when the Pennsylvania Academy presented him with a two-year *Cresson Travelling Scholarship. He devoted the following two years to studies in Europe. First stopping in Holland, he copied the works of *Frans Hals and studied other great Dutch masters. Much of his time was spent in Haarlem, where he lived for about a year. Here, he received his first important commission from Baron Kroll, who was a guiding force at the Haarlem Museum of Art.