Mary Louise Curtis Bok and Jules André Smith


Dublin Core


Mary Louise Curtis Bok and Jules André Smith

Alternative Title

Mary Curtis Bok and J. André Smith


Bok, Mary Louise Curtis, 1876-1970
Zimbalist, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, 1876-1970
Philanthropists--United States
Philadelphia (Pa.)


Mary Louise Curtis Bok (1874-1970) with Jules André Smith (1880–1959) in the main garden of the Research Studio (now the Maitland Art Center) in Maitland, Florida, in the 1940s or 1950s.

Born in 1874, Bok was the only child of wealthy Philadelphia-based businessman Cyrus H. K. Curtis and Louisa Knapp Curtis, whose Curtis Publishing Company produced two of the most popular magazines in America: The Saturday Evening Post and The Ladies' Home Journal. Bok's early interests included music and writing for the magazine her father founded under the pen name of Mary L. Knapp.

Recognized for countless philanthropic pursuits, Mary Louise Curtis Bok provided J. André Smith with sufficient patronage to establish The Research Studio in the early 1930s. As heiress to the Curtis Publishing Company, she is noted for establishing the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, funding the Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College in Winter Park, and the construction of Bok Tower Gardens near Lake Wales, along with her husband Edward W. Bok. After Edward Bok’s death in 1930, Mary Louise married Efrem Zimbalist and was thereafter known as Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist.

Born in 1880 to American parents in Hong Kong, raised in New York and Connecticut, and educated at Cornell University, Smith worked for several years as an architect, never giving up on his first love of art. His early passion was printmaking, specifically etching. In 1915, he was awarded a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, California. During World War I, Smith continued to work in both drawing and printmaking, selected as one of eight artists by the U.S. government to go to France in 1918 to record military activities. He would later publish those works in a book titled In France with the American Expeditionary Forces.

While travelling to Miami in the 1930s, Smith made an unplanned stop in Maitland, Florida. Having experienced a stunning sunset on nearby Lake Sybelia, he decided to travel no further and would go on to build his winter home and studio here, which is now the Maitland Art Center. Frustrated and disappointed with the area’s lack of support for contemporary art, Smith began plans for a residential "Lab-Gallery" that would encourage artistic exploration and experimentation in a sheltered studio environment. The studio compound, later known as The Research Studio, was the winter residence of prominent American artists such as Ralston Crawford, David Burlick, Ernest Roth, Milton Avery, Arnold Blanch, Doris Lee, and Hal McIntosh. André Smith’s vision continued to thrive for over two decades under the generous financial support from his patron, philanthropist Mary Curtis Bok. Smith’s legacy is alive and well today at the Art & History Museum’s Maitland Art Center through its residency programs and exhibitions.


Original color photograph: Maitland Historical Museum, Art & History Museums - Maitland, Maitland, Florida.

Date Created

ca. 1940-1959

Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original color photograph.




376 KB


1 color photograph




Still Image


Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Research Studio, Maitland, Florida
Annie Russell Theatre, Winter Park, Florida
Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by the Maitland Historical Museum, Art & History Museums - Maitland and is provided here by RICHES of Central Florida for educational purposes only.

Contributing Project


Cepero, Laura

Digital Collection

External Reference

"Mary Louise Curtis Bok: A Portrait of Curtis's Founder." Curtis Library.

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

1 color photograph


“Mary Louise Curtis Bok and Jules André Smith,” RICHES, accessed May 30, 2024,