Sarah Worthington

From Ohio History Central
Worthington King Peter, Sarah.jpg
This portrait, which measures 35.82 by 41.88 inches (91 by 106.4 cm), shows Sarah Worthington King Peter (1800-1877), ca. 1840-1845.

Sarah Worthington King Peter was a nineteenth-century American philanthropist and patron of the arts.

Sarah Worthington King Peter was born on May 10, 1800, at Chillicothe, Ohio. Her father was Thomas Worthington, one of Ohio's first two senators. Coming from a powerful political family, Peter experienced many more opportunities than other women of this same time period. Her father sent her to private schools in Frankfort, Kentucky, and in Washington, D.C. In 1816, she married Edward King, the son of Rufus King, a prominent New York political leader. In 1831, the King's moved from Chillicothe to Cincinnati, Ohio. The couple remained together until Edward's death in 1836.

Following her husband's death, Peter moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Two of her five children were attending school at Harvard University, and she wished to be near them. In 1844, Peter married William Peter, the British consul to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was in Philadelphia where Peter began her philanthropic career. She opened the School of Design for Women in 1848. The School of Design for Women is now known as the Moore College of Art and Design.

After her second husband's death in 1853, Peter returned to Cincinnati, where she remained for the rest of her life. She continued with her philanthropy and established the Ladies' Academy of Fine Arts. She converted to Roman Catholicism in 1855 and used her wealth and influence to establish a number of convents in the archdioceses of Philadelphia and Cincinnati. She also made several trips to Europe where she purchased artwork for the Ladies' Academy of Fine Arts and the Art School of Cincinnati. While she appreciated and purchased all types of art, Sarah was a modest woman. She did not wish to offend her fellow Cincinnatians and covered the unclothed figures in statues and paintings with fig leaves. She died on February 6, 1877 and left her fortune to several charitable organizations.

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