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Monument to American woman Eleanor Lord Pray

American woman Eleanor Lord Pray monument in Vladivostok

4 July 2014. Vladivostok. Monument to American woman Eleanor Lord Pray who lived here for 36 years. Sculptor Alexei Bokiy, St. Petersburg

Monument to American woman Eleanor Lord Pray, who lived in Vladivostok, Russia for 36 years – from July 1894 to December 1930. The grand opening of the sculpture took place on July 4, just on the Independence Day of the United States. In addition, it was on the eve of the festivities in honor of the birthday of Vladivostok – the capital of Far East of Russia. Depicted descending from the steps Eleanor Pray, as if hurrying to the city post office, where she went, almost daily for 36 years, sending letters to her relatives in the US. In her letters, she described in detail the city at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. Jokingly called by the locals “the first blogger of Vladivostok”, Eleonora Prey created a chronicle of the life of that time. Noteworthy, she also made about a thousand unique photographs. Later, her relatives found these letters and published a book about the old Vladivostok, which became a bestseller.

Photo - Eleanor Lord Pray

In the Photo – Eleanor Lord Pray

Meanwhile, living in Vladivostok, American woman Eleanor Lord Pray survived the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905, the First World War, the revolution, and the intervention. Unfortunately, here, in 1923, she buried her husband. However, she did not return to America, but became an accountant in the trading house “Kunst and Albers” and worked until 1930, until the company ceased to exist. Only when she had nothing left to live, she moved to China, from where several years later she was interned.

Eleanor was born in 1868 in Maine in a family of entrepreneurs. In 1894, after marrying a representative of another trading family, she left for a distant Vladivostok. There, her husband’s family owned an “American shop.” It is easy to imagine how a young woman was uneasy in a foreign country, so far from home, and how she missed her friends in America. Eleanor began writing letters to her homeland, where she described all the difficulties she had to face. But mostly, all the joys, and new acquaintances.

However, if you look at the dates, it becomes clear that over time, the joys became less and less: the first Russian revolution, the First World War, the October Revolution … In fact, she evidenced all these pages of Russian history. The epistolary heritage of Eleanor Prey is more than 16,000 pages, which became a symbol of her stamina. Many letters she accompanied with photographs of the city, which today are the most valuable historical evidence.

In 1930, Eleanor Prey, already a widow, had to leave the city. To emigrate from Vladivostok is the closest – to China, where the traces of Eleanor Prey are lost. You can find information that she was in the internment camp, but the year of her death is usually indicated in 1954, which suggests that, nevertheless, she did not die in the camp.

The Seaside Museum of V. K. Arsenyev, organized a wonderful exhibition dedicated to Eleanor Prey: “Eleanor Prey: Letters from Vladivostok”. Eleanor came to Vladivostok when she was 26 years old and, according to her, lived here the best part of her life. She fell in love with Vladivostok, and did not leave it when the contract of her husband ended. She did not leave it even when Fred died. And did not leave when the Reds came and expropriated her property when she had to work so as not to die of hunger …

From the letter of E.Prey: “It’s unlikely that someone loves this untended place like me.” Everyone laughs at me, and I can not help myself, the only thought is that I can live somewhere where I will not see this blue bay (the Golden Horn) and two gulfs (Amur and Ussuri) terrifies me.”

Monument to American woman Eleanor Lord Pray