On June 9, 1898, Maxfield Parrish began his long affair with Plainfield. On that day he purchased the land on which he built “The Oaks,” his residence and his studio in which he lived and worked for the next 68 years. It was here that this self-proclaimed “mechanic who paints” produced much of the work that brought him fame, including children’s book illustrations, advertisements, calendar prints, murals, and art prints featuring his famous “Parrish Blue.”
His studio was equipped with an extensive machine shop. The earnings from his paintings allowed him to buy the machinery he enjoyed. He produced wooden urns, vases, models of houses, and furniture and would set up scenes with shadows and photograph them to paint. His studio also had a well-equipped darkroom. Many paintings in progress would be found in the studio at one time as Parrish used the method of glazing between each layer of paint. Each of the layers had to dry before the next color could be applied.
He used local models for his paintings and had a local carpenter help him build his rambling house and studio which were designed around ledges and oak trees. The community in Plainfield was important to him, and he invited friends and neighbors to “open houses” to view his finished pieces. In addition, he designed the stage set for the Plainfield Town Hall. This key member of the Cornish Art Colony was honored by the Plainfield selectmen in 1963 with the gold-headed Boston Post Cane as Plainfield’s oldest citizen. He died in 1966 at the age of ninety-five and his ashes were interred in the Plainfield Cemetery.