Fort Walla Walla portrayals are of Maria Whitman, Marion Bauer


Fort Walla Walla Musuem

755 Myra Road, Walla Walla

— Living History performances at the Fort Walla Walla Musuem, 755 Myra Road, this weekend will be portrayals of Maria Whitman and Marion Bauer.

The performances will be 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday outside the pioneer village. If the weather is rainy or too hot, they will be in the air-conditioned entrance building's grand hall.

On Saturday, Maria Greenwood Whitman, portrayed by Walla Walla City Council member Barbara Clark, will return to Walla Walla.

Maria first arrived in 1862, joining husband E.B. Whitman, a cousin to Christian missionary Dr. Marcus Whitman. E.B. had recently been elected as the first mayor of the city's newly established government.

Maria was born in Portland, Maine, in 1828, the daughter of a lawyer, and was educated in the Boston area, where she met E.B. Whitman.

The couple married and had two sons. Theirs was a relationship steeped in the issues of their era, including the abolition of slavery and women's rights.

In 1850, Mr. Whitman traveled West to seek his fortune in the California gold fields. Mrs. Whitman remained in Boston to raise their children until E.B. chose a new location for the family.

After 12 years, the couple reunited in Walla Walla, where they were active in civic affairs, and lived here the rest of their lives.

As well as telling of her experiences, Mrs. Whitman plans to sing some of the songs from the era.

Prior to Maria Whitman's appearance, at 1:30, Walla Walla musician John Culhane will entertain the crowd with Irish fiddle music.

Composer and musician Marion Bauer will be portrayed at 2 p.m. Sunday by Susan Pickett, Ph.D., a Whitman College faculty member.

Marion Bauer was born in Walla Walla in 1882. Her father, Jacques Bauer, was a Jewish emigrant from the Alsace region of what is now France. He was a member of the 9th Infantry which helped build Fort Walla Walla during the late 1850s.

He remained in Walla Walla after his discharge from the Army and opened a general store near the corner of Main Street and Third Avenue.

His mother, Julia Bauer, also from Alsace, was a linguist on the Whitman College faculty during the 1880s and held language classes for recent immigrants in her Alder Street home.

Jacques and Julia had seven children. Five of them lived to adulthood. Two became musicians.

The oldest child, Emilie Frances Bauer, born in Walla Walla in 1865, moved to New York City during the 1890s and became a highly regarded music critic.

She was 17 years older than the youngest Bauer child, Marion, joined her older sister in New York after graduating from high school.

Marion was a gifted composer, writing for piano, chamber music ensembles, symphonic orchestra, solo voice and vocal ensembles. Although Bauer never earned a college degree, in 1926 she was hired as an instructor for New York University's music department, becoming their first female music faculty member.

In addition to teaching at NYU, Marion lectured at Juilliard and Columbia University. Like her fellow composers, Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland, Marion experimented with music styles, leaving a considerable variety and amount of original compositions.

One of the many highlights of her career was when the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, performed her "Sun Splendor" in Carnegie Hall in 1947. In 1951 she received many accolades and much personal satisfaction at a New York Town Hall concert devoted exclusively to her music. She continued to compose to the time of her death in 1955, just shy of her 73rd birthday.

Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through October. Admission is free to museum members; eligible personnel and their families through the Blue Star Museums program; Tamástslikt Cultural Institute's Inwai Circle cardholders; enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; and all children under 6 years of age. Admission is $3 for children ages 6-12; $6 for seniors 62 and over and students and $7 for adults.

For more information, call 525-7703 or email


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