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Leslie Cheek, Jr. Papers

Identifier: Mss. 98 C41

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Papers, chiefly 1940-1955, relating to the purchase and operation of Faraway Farm, Lake Lure, North Carolina, the rural retreat of Leslie Cheek, Jr. and his wife Mary Tyler (Freeman) Cheek. Includes Cheek's architectural drawings and photographs as well as documentation concerning a painting of Faraway Farm by William Bailey.

There are papers concerning an egg project run by the Cheeks as part of the war effort during World War II.

The collection also includes architectural drawings for the plan of the Virginia Room at the New York World's Fair, 1939 and theater set designs as well as correspondence between Leslie Cheek, Jr. and Malcolm E. Campbell of the University of North Carolina about the possibility of Cheek becoming Dean of the new School of Architecture and Landscape Design.


  • Creation: 1930-1957
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1940-1955


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical Information:

Leslie Cheek was born in Nashville, TN in 1908. He studied art at Harvard University and architecture at Yale and Columbia. He headed the department of fine arts at the College of William and Mary 1937-39, where he was instrumental in getting an honorary award given to Georgia O'Keeffe by the college in 1938 and Frank Lloyd Wright.

In 1939 he married Mary Tyler Freeman (1917- 2005), the daughter of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of George Washington, Douglas Southall Freeman. That same year he joined the Baltimore Museum of Fine Art as its director, where he found Adelyn Breeskin (q.v.) of its prints department already assembling an outstanding collection. Cheek worked actively with various Works Progress Administration (WPA) artist's projects. He resigned from the Museum in 1942 to join the army corps of engineers in World War II.

After the war, he succeeded Thomas C. Colt, Jr as the second director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 1948 (the museum itself was founded in 1936). During his tenure at Virginia, he persuaded the General Assembly to finance the Museum as the state's official art museum. In 1953, Cheek developed a "mobile art program" to bring exhibitions to more remote parts of Virginia. The project, Artmobile I, was a success. In 1955, the Virginia Museum Theater opened to integrate the performing arts with the gallery. He retired from the Museum in 1968. The following year the Cheeks began a mountaintop compound they named Skylark on a former farm along the Blue Ridge Parkway. In 1977, they donated it to Washington & Lee University which is today that university's conference center. Cheek suffered a series of strokes at his home in Richmond and died in 1992.

His personal papers, 1981-1994, are held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and 1940-1983 by the Archives of American Art, Washington, DC. The Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, Nashville, TN, the ancestral home of Cheek, is now a public art museum, built upon the collection of the former Nashville Museum of Art. Further information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki: .


2.80 Linear Feet

Acquisition Information:


Related Materials:

See also; Leslie Cheek, Jr. Papers (UA 6.007), Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary.


Other Information:

A PDF document of this inventory is available online.

Additional information may be found at

Processing Information:

Processed by Kathy Feeney in 1993.

Guide to the Leslie Cheek, Jr. Papers
Finding Aid Authors: Kathy Feeney.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository