1824-1910

July 9, 1824, Waterbury, Connecticut.

June 16, 1910, Providence, Rhode Island.

Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island.

Lewis was the son of Anson and Evelyn Welton Downes, and husband of Sarah Maria Chapin Downes. He attended academies at Cheshire, Waterbury, and Newton, Connecticut, and Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut (BA 1848, AM 1851). After graduation, he became a law student in the office of Judge Francis Parsons, of Hartford, Connecticut.

Downes moved to Providence, Rhode Island, in 1855, and joined the firm of Royal Chapin, a wool dealer and manufacturer. In 1861, he became associated with George W. Chapin in the manufacture of woolen goods. He spent some time in Europe studying methods and processes of woolen manufacturers in England, France, Belgium, Germany, and Austria. Upon his return to America, he was instrumental in the construction by Chapin’s firm of the Riverside Mills.

In 1872, Downes left the woolen business, and, the next year, with Elisha Harris, organized the What Cheer Mutual Fire Insurance Company. In 1875, he organized the Hope Mutual Fire Insurance Company. He was chief executive officer of both companies for 29 years.

As part of his early education, Downes received musical training under noted teachers of organ and voice. He augmented the training by several trips to study music in cathedrals and churches in Europe. For several years, he was a member of the Episcopal Church’s school committee in Providence, Rhode island, and chairman of the committee on music.

  1. Solitude

where to get Downes’ photo