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George T. Downing and Family

George T. Downing and Family

This photograph, taken between 1885 and 1895, shows George T. Downing and his family. Downing was the eldest son of Thomas Downing, a wealthy New York oyster seller and abolitionist. Downing followed in his father’s footsteps, opening his own line of successful oyster restaurants, along with a catering business and hotel in Rhode Island throughout the 1850s. He used his wealth and prominence to advocate for civil rights causes. The Downings had six children, Serena, Rebecca, Thomas, Georgena, Philip, and Peter, several of whom most likely appear in this photograph, and many of whom continued in the restaurant industry.