19th Century Louisville, Kentucky, Frames: the Escotts

Escott Frame

English immigrant James V. Escott (1816-1892) was in the framing business in Louisville, Kentucky, by the 1850s. He went through two partnerships and in 1863 “resumed business” on Main Street, advertising in the Louisville Journal that the company “will give attention to the importation of photograph and ambrotype apparatus and to the manufacture of picture and other frames.” Later ads that year announced “that his Frame Factory is now fully manned and equipped with all the latest and most approved steam machinery and appliances, and he is now prepared to fill all orders for Gilt Work of entirely new and beautiful designs and richest styles of ornament.”

One of Escott’s sons, Henry, joined the company in 1867, and the business became J.V. Escott and Son, “Manufacturers of Frames and Looking Glasses.” The ad announcing the name change stated that “our factory is the largest in the Southwest.” Along with wallpaper, frames, artist supplies and photographic goods, the company sold “Engravings, Chromos, & Lithographs.” In an 1883 Courier-Journal advertisement, the company, J.V. Escott and Sons since 1878 and now on Fourth Avenue, advertised picture frames “on hand and to order / Manufactured by J.V Escott & Sons.” Both Carl Christian Brenner and Patty Thum, major Louisville painters, used Escott frames, and the Escotts were awarded medals for their displays at the Southern Exposition in Louisville in the early 1880s. The business also maintained an art gallery, and in 1886 one of the major events in 19th century Louisville art history took place there when painter John Botto had his “moving sale.”

In 1892 the founder of the company, James, died, and the company eventually was taken over by his son Walter. The son’s death in 1905 resulted in the dissolution of the business and a massive sale of its assets, including the contents of its warehouse on Main Street.