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La Belle Chocolatiere
Walter Baker Group of Demonstrators
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 La Belle Chocolatiere: An Old Trademark Garners New Attention

By Anthony M. Sammarco in Dorchester Community News February 21, 2003

In the accompanying photograph, ?Demonstrators,? or women who were employed by the Walter Baker & Company to dress like the trademark, and stand at the top of the staircase of the Baker Chocolate Administration Building in 1949, beneath a life sized portrait of La Belle Chocolatiere, the trademark since 1881 of the company. Dressed in floor length gowns with lawn aprons, shawls and caps, the women hold plates laden with delicacies such as cake, brownies and bonbons all made from Baker?s chocolate and trays of steaming cups of cocoa, all of which had the trademark embossed on the cups.

Baker Administration Bldg
Walter Baker Administration Building March 2003
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 The Administration Building was designed by George F. Shepard, Jr. (1865-1955) a partner with Frederick Baldwin Stearns of the Boston architectural firm of Shepard & Stearns. A native Miltonian, and son of local builder George F. Shepard (1827-1908), he built his first home on Cliff Road, which was a large Single Style house, later building 125 Canton Avenue as his retirement home. Shepard was also the architect of ?Winter Valley,? the Whitney Estate, the Milton Woman?s Clubhouse and the Collicot and Cunningham Schools. In the design of the Administration Building, Shepard used red brick which united the building with the other mills, however it was designed as a classical Georgian Revival building with four monumental fa?ade Ionic columns, a roof balustrade and limestone trim. This was the first building in the mill complex that was not designed by Bradlee, Winslow & Wetherall or its successors and was in marked architectural contrast to those built between 1872 and 1918.

Baker Admin Bldg and La Belle Chocolatiere
La Belle Chocolatiere
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 Shepard designed an impressive classical entry of white marble with a flight of white marble stairs flanked by bronze balustrades that led to the second floor landing. At the top of the staircase, between flanking pilasters, he designed a panel for the life-sized oil portrait of La Belle Chocolatiere that was commissioned from the noted Boston artist Howard B. Smith.

Das Schokoladen Madchen, portrait in situ
Walter Baker Lofts Administration Building
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 When the portrait, a copy of Das Schokoladen Madchen, a pastel portrait by Jean-Etienne Liotard of Anna Baltouf (c. 1740-1825), later the SAR Princess Dietrichstein of Austria, was installed in 1920, it was ?considered by those who have seen it as the finest reproduction of La Belle Chocolatiere, the widely known Walter Baker & Co., trademark, that has ever been painted.? As the registered trademark of the oldest chocolate manufacturer in the United States since 1881, the portrait was not just an impressive work of art, but a larger than life trademark, and an important part of the company?s history.

Howard B. Smith was ?considered one of the most successful among Boston portrait painters? and company officials, employees and visitors to the Administration for the next four decades were suitably impressed. After Walter Baker & Company moved to Dover, Delaware, in 1966, the building was used for various purposes, including the local office of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? Department of Welfare. Covered over for many years after the building was abandoned, the portrait has once again become the focal point of the renovated Baker Administration Building, now artists? lofts and community meeting space. Dorchester still awaits a long anticipated museum on the history of the Baker Chocolate Company.

Baker's German Sweet Chocolate
German Sweet Chocolate label
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 At its recent ribbon cutting ceremony in October, at which Senator Brian Joyce officiated, numerous elected officials, community activists and members of the general public saw the beginnings of the long awaited restorations. My friend Anne Thompson was there and kindly brought me a bar of Baker?s German Sweet Chocolate, which had been invented by Samuel German (1802-1888), the coachman of Walter Baker (1792-1852) from 1840 to 1849 who later became a chocolate worker and sold his chocolate recipe in 1852 to Walter Baker and is remembered to this day on each and every bar of German Sweet Chocolate.

Related Images: showing 3 of 3 (more results)
Here are some images from the Atheneum archive related to this topic. Click on any of these images to open a slideshow of all 3 images.
ChokoladenmadchenLa Belle ChocolatiereThe Chocolate Girl, La Belle Chocolatiere
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Created: August 24, 2005   Modified: February 19, 2007