The Stone City Art Colony and School 1932-1933
Byron Ben Boyd

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Byron Ben Boyd [“Ben”] (1887-1959) - student

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Boyd spent most of his life in Des Moines and studied art with private tutors at the National Academy of Design, New York City and at the Art Students’ League of New York. He completed his academic studies with a B.A. in architecture at the University of Colorado (1910) and a Masters degree from Columbia University (1914). Boyd joined the Stone City Art Colony in the summer of 1932 and lived in one of the famed ice wagons, which he called “Boyd’s Nest.”

Boyd came to Des Moines in 1914. He began practicing architecture in 1916 and was fully licensed by 1928. During his thirteen years as an architect with his firm Boyd and Moore, he designed the Memorial Union for the University of Iowa, the Iowa National Bank (Iowa City), and the Salisbury House in Des Moines. The firm existed until 1929 and subsequently closed due to Depression-Era economics.

By 1926, Boyd pursued art as his main vocation. As a watercolorist, he was widely shown across the United States – New York City (Buchanan Galleries), Boston (Vose Galleries), Detroit (Hanna Galleries), Chicago (Chicago Galleries Association), Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts), Kansas City, Des Moines, and other cities. Within Iowa, Boyd showed paintings at the Iowa Federated Women’s Clubs Exhibit (1932), Iowa Artists Show (1908), and the Iowa Art Salon, State Fair on numerous occasions.

Boyd served as president of the Iowa Artists Club from 1928-1932 and was a member of the Des Moines Association of Fine Arts. He is known for his WPA murals at the Osceola, Iowa Post Office (1936) and at the Pella, Iowa Post Office (1937). His paintings hang in permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Whitney Museum. He assisted on murals for the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center and the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) Building, Washington, D.C.

While living in Des Moines, Boyd was an active playwright, publishing both one-act comedies and dramas while being involved with local community theater. He was appointed chair of the Drake University art department in 1939; by 1944, he left Iowa and retired to California. Boyd died in La Jolla, California in July 1959.


Online Resources for Byron Ben Boyd:

Salisbury House Foundation. “History of Salisbury House: The Dream.” Available: http://www.salisburyhouse.org/history/the_dream.php


Published Works

Boyd, Byron B. An amateur hamlet: a comedy in one act. Des Moines, IA: Ivan Bloom Hardin, 1938.

Boyd, Byron B. Easy costumes. Des Moines, IA: Ivan Bloom Hardin, [n.d.].

Boyd, Byron B. The miracle at Fatima: a drama in one act. Des Moines, IA: Ivan Bloom Hardin, 1949.

Boyd, Byron B. No place like home: a comedy in one act. Des Moines, IA: Ivan Bloom Hardin, 1938.

Boyd, Byron B. Oh say! Do you see? : a controversial comedy in three acts. Des Moines, IA: Ivan Bloom Hardin, 1946.

Boyd, Byron B. The strongest: a drama in one act. Des Moines, IA: Ivan Bloom Hardin, 1934.

Boyd, Byron B. They cannot return: a drama in one act. Des Moines, IA: Ivan Bloom Hardin, 1934.

Boyd, Byron B. The underground railway: a comedy-drama in one act. Des Moines, IA: Ivan Bloom Hardin, 1935.

Smith, Ralph C., and Byron B. Boyd. The moon-goddess: an Aztec comic opera: selections. Denver, CO: Tolbert R. Ingram Music Company, 1909.


Undated industrial scene. Image courtesy of Amy Miranda and Carl Stieglitz, Iowa City Iowa.

Undated portrait with industrial scene in rear of painting. Image courtesy of Amy Miranda and Carl Stieglitz, Iowa City, Iowa.

From the Reval Esthonia series. Image courtesy of Amy Miranda and Carl Stieglitz, Iowa City, Iowa.

Photo courtesy of Cowles Library Archives, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

Byron Ben Boyd

Photo courtesy of Cowles Library Archives, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.



When Tillage Begins: The Stone City Art Colony and School
Published online October 2003 by the
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