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Isaac C. Bates Scrapbook

Biographical note

Isaac Comstock Bates was born July 27, 1843 in Blackstone, MA to Laban and Lydia (Comstock) Bates. He arrived in Providence in 1868 where he became partners with his maternal uncle Andrew Comstock, Esq. in a pork-packing business at 101 (later 199) Canal Street. In 1880 he and his cousin Louis H. Comstock bought out the business and re-opened it as Comstock and Company. Mr. Bates accumulated great wealth through this business and was active in it until his death January 1, 1913. He married Emily Mansfield of Millville, MA on October 27, 1870. They had no children. They lived at 34 Olive Street in Providence and had a home on Bennet Point in Narragansett.

Bates had a lifelong interest in the arts. He used the proceeds from the meat-packing business toward acquiring valuable works of arts and supporting local artists. He was an early member of the Providence Art Club, joining in 1884 before becoming involved with RISD in 1885. Bates’ bequest of nineteenth century paintings established the RISD Museum of Art‘s early emphasis on American painting more than any other individual and continues to form the core of the current collection. (10, Rosenfeld).

Bates served as President of RISD from 1907-1913. Prior to serving as President, he was a Trustee, 1885-1913 and Vice President, 1891-1907. He was on the Executive Committee, 1907-1913, the Museum Committee, 1893-1913, the Library Committee, 1907-1913, the Committee of Management, 1887-1888, Committee on Lectures from 1888-1893, and the Finance Committee from 1894-1896.

In addition to his involvement with RISD, Bates also took an active interest in the City of Providence. He was a member of The Hope Club, the Squantum Club, the University Club and the RI Historical Society. Upon his death, Mr. Bates left bequests to Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Butler Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Providence Lying-In Hospital, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Providence Athenaeum, Providence Art Club and St. Andrew’s Industrial School.