Winifred E. Lefferts

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Winifred E. Lefferts
Winifred Lefferts Arms, philanthropist
Born Winifred Earl Lefferts
(1903-10-09)October 9, 1903
Newtonville, Massachusetts
Died November 16, 1995(1995-11-16) (aged 92)
Blandford, Massachusetts
Education Pratt Institute Art School
National Academy of Design
Tiffany Foundation
Known for
  • Carleton Macy
    (married 1937–1949)
  • Robert A. Arms
    (married 1952–1971)

Winifred Earl Lefferts (October 9, 1903, Newtonville, Massachusetts – November 1995, Blandford, Massachusetts), also known as Winifred Lefferts Arms, was a painter, designer and philanthropist. A member of the Lefferts family, early settlers of Brooklyn, she studied and exhibited art, and designed for New York book publishers prior to her 1937 marriage to Carleton Macy. Following her marriage to Robert A. Arms in 1952 she painted as Winifred L. Arms. After the death of her second husband she became known for philanthropy and for founding a private residential treatment center in Carmel, New York, named Arms Acres.


The daughter of Oscar Leffert Lefferts and Winifred Wood, Winifred Earl Lefferts was born into a socially prominent family. Her mother was descended from Francis Fauquier, Colonial lieutenant governor of Virginia, and Major Nathan Peters of Connecticut, aide to General George Washington. Through her father Lefferts was descended from Oliver Wolcott, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; Matthew Griswold, governor of Connecticut; and Pieter Lefferts, an early Dutch settler of Brooklyn.[1]

Winifred Lefferts studied at the Pratt Institute Art School and the National Academy of Design in New York. She won a fellowship from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation in 1925, and received prizes from the National Arts Club in 1931, 1933 and 1936. She held membership in the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, the New York Watercolor Club, the American Watercolor Society and the Allied Artists of America.[1][2]

On October 30, 1937, Lefferts married Carleton Macy, a leading developer of Long Island real estate who was former president of the Queens Borough Gas and Electric Company. Macy's first wife, Lefferts' paternal aunt Helen, had died the previous year.[1][3]

Arms visits the town hall she gave her hometown of Blandford, Massachusetts. She was cited in a 1983 U.S. News & World Report feature about publicity-shy individuals who were carrying on the philanthropic tradition of their prosperous families.

Macy died in January 1949,[4] and in September 1952 his widow married Robert A. Arms, who was employed by the Travelers Insurance Company of Hartford and was descended from John Alden.[5] The couple dedicated their lives to helping those with chemical dependency. After her husband was killed by a drunk driver in 1971, Winifred L. Arms continued her work to help alcoholics to recovery and established a private inpatient treatment facility in Carmel, New York, named Arms Acres.[6]

Arms' acts of philanthropy included giving a 100-acre parcel in Massachusetts to the New England Forestry Foundation in 1972.[7] Formerly Stage West, CityStage & Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts, named its 83-seat black box theater, The Winifred Arms Studio, in her honor.[8][9]

In 1982 Arms bought a run-down building in her hometown of Blandford, Massachusetts, had it renovated, and presented it as the first town hall Blandford had ever had in its 241-year history. "As it is now all the papers and records of the town are kept in private homes. It kind of makes your hair stand on end," Arms told a UPI reporter, describing the absence of a permanent meeting place as "a pea-picking horror."[10][11]

Her gifts to Amherst College, Robert Arms' alma mater, included an endowed professorship in the arts and humanities and a painting by Rockwell Kent, "Clover Fields" (1939–1940), that is part of the collection of the Mead Art Museum.[12] The Five College Museums/Historic Deerfield Collections Database reflects Winifred Lefferts Arms' donation of more than six dozen pieces of furniture and decorative arts objects dating to the 18th century, as well as paintings and prints and two of her own watercolor drawings.[13]

Winifred Lefferts Arms continued her membership in the American Watercolor Society until her death[14] on November 16, 1995.[15] In 1997, Amherst College named The Arms Music Center in memory of Winifred and Robert Arms.[16]


Lefferts' original dust jacket art for The League of Frightened Men (1935).

Lefferts illustrated books and designed dust jackets for American book publishers in the 1920s and 1930s. Books that credit her as illustrator include Elaine Sterne Carrington's The Gypsy Star (1928) and Laura E. Richards' 1935 book of children's verses, Merry-Go-Round.[17] Lefferts' name or her distinctive "W.E.L." signature appears on many book jackets, including the U.S. edition of W. Somerset Maugham's The Casuarina Tree (1926), DuBose Heyward's Angel (1926)[18] and M. P. Shiel's Dr. Krasinski's Secret (1929).[19]

Lefferts designed the dust jacket for Rex Stout's first book, How Like a God (1929),[20] and the covers for Seed on the Wind (1930)[21] and three of his early Nero Wolfe novels—The League of Frightened Men (1935), The Rubber Band (1936) and The Red Box (1937). In December 2015, the only example of Lefferts' original dust jacket art ever auctioned was offered by Bonhams in New York. Measuring 12 by 10.5 inches, her design for the cover of The League of Frightened Men was executed in gouache, ink and pencil on artist board.[22] The original advertising mockup for The Red Box, including a silkscreen print of Leffert's dust jacket design, has also been offered for sale.[23]


  1. ^ a b c "Wedding at Home for Miss Lefferts". The New York Times. October 31, 1937. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  2. ^ The American Federation of Arts (1959). Gilbert, Dorothy B., ed. Who's Who in American Art 1959. New York: R. R. Bowker Company. p. 17. OCLC 60803809. 
  3. ^ "Luncheon for Miss Lefferts". The New York Times. February 27, 1926. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  4. ^ "Carleton Macy, 76, Utilities Aide, Dies". The New York Times. January 6, 1949. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  5. ^ "Mrs. Macy is Bride of Robert A. Arms". The New York Times. September 21, 1952. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  6. ^ "About Us". Arms Acres. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  7. ^ "Community Forests of Massachusetts". New England Forestry Foundation. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  8. ^ United Press International, July 21, 1982. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  9. ^ "Rental Information". CityStage & Symphony Hall. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  10. ^ United Press International, July 21, 1982.
  11. ^ Huntley, Steve (March 28, 1983). "The Big-Time Givers—Who They Are, What They Gave". U.S. News and World Report. p. 58. 
  12. ^ Kent, Rockwell (1939–40). "Clover Fields". Collections Database. Five Colleges and Historic Deerfield Museum Consortium. Retrieved 2017-06-27. 
  13. ^ Five College Museums/Historic Deerfield Collections Database record for Mrs. Robert Arms; Five College Museums/Historic Deerfield Collections Database record for Winifred Arms; "Japanese Geisha with Bowl of Oriental Poppies" by Winifred Lefferts; "Japanese Scene" by Winifred Lefferts Macy
  14. ^ "First Hundred Years Members". American Watercolor Society. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  15. ^ "Winifred L. Arms". Massachusetts Death Index, 1970-2003 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
  16. ^ "Amherst College: A Chronology". Amherst College. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  17. ^ Richards, Laura E., Merry-Go-Round: New Rhymes and Old. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc., 1935. "Decorations by Winifred E. Lefferts." Lefferts' "W.E.L." signature appears at the bottom of all line drawings that illustrate the book.
  18. ^ "Heyward, Du Bose. Angel". Yesterday's Gallery and Babylon Revisited Rare Books. Archived from the original on May 23, 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  19. ^ "Dr. Krasinski's Secret". The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  20. ^ "Sale 2332 Lot 244, First Book Stout, Rex. How Like a God". 19th & 20th Century Literature. Swann Galleries. November 21, 2013. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  21. ^ "Sale 2332 Lot 249, Stout, Rex. Seed on the Wind". 19th & 20th Century Literature. Swann Galleries. November 21, 2013. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  22. ^ "Lot 230, Stout, Rex. Lefferts, Winifred Earl. Original dust jacket art for The League of Frightened Men". Fine Books and Manuscripts including the Autograph Collection of Harry E. Gould, Jr. Bonhams. December 9, 2015. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  23. ^ "The Red Box (Original artist's mock-up for the book advertisement)". Archived from the original on May 23, 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 

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