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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Arrington, Katherine Clark Pendleton

by William T. Moye, 1979.

12 Apr. 1876–12 Apr. 1955

Katherine Clark Pendleton Arrington, art patron and civic leader, was born in Warrenton, the daughter of Major Arthur Sylbert Pendleton, a businessman connected with Hooks Smelting Co. of Philadelphia, dealers in railroad equipment. Her mother, Victoria Louise Clark Pendleton, was the daughter of James Sampson and Martha A. Lanier Clark of Pitt County. Through her maternal connections, Mrs. Arrington was related to a number of distinguished Virginia families, including the Lees. She had two brothers, Milo M. and Arthur S., an army doctor who retired to Raleigh. After Milo's death, she raised his daughter, Katherine Clark Pendleton II, as her own.

Mrs. Arrington was graduated from Hollins College in 1896. Shortly afterwards, she married Peter Arrington of Petersburg, Va., son of Samuel Peter and Hannah Bolton White Arrington. The couple traveled widely in Europe and the Orient where he developed the China market for the British-American Tobacco Co. He became a director and head of both the export and manufacturing departments of British-American before his death in 1916.

After her husband's death, Mrs. Arrington became deeply committed to a number of civic projects. She was probably most prominently involved with spreading an appreciation of fine art throughout the state. In 1933 she presented two gargoyles and a bishop in his niche from the Westminster clock tower (Big Ben) to the University of North Carolina, as a memorial to her brother Milo; the figures were installed on the south side of Person Hall Art Gallery. Also during the 1930s she helped establish the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte. Her favorite project was the North Carolina State Art Society; she was its sponsor and prime force, acting as vice-president in the first year of its existence and as president every year thereafter until shortly before her death. For many years, she used her considerable means and connections to sponsor exhibitions throughout the state and to make many gifts. The State Art Museum in Raleigh stands as a monument to her energies and talents.

Mrs. Arrington had many other interests and was very active in community and historical projects. One of the founders of the Warren County Red Cross Auxiliary, she volunteered to go to France as an ambulance driver, but armistice was declared before she was to leave. She was a member of the state Democratic party executive committee from 1924 to 1928 and was active in the North Carolina Symphony Society. Maternal family ties led her to participate in the restoration of Stratford Hall in Virginia, making gifts and raising funds. In 1932 she was a member of the George Washington Bicentennial Commission. She was also an active member of many patriotic societies: Barons of Runnymeade, Americans of Royal Descent, Descendants of Knights of the Garter, North Carolina and National Colonial Dames of America, and Women Descendants of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of the State of New York.

Mrs. Arrington served as a trustee of the University of North Carolina from 1936 until her death and was awarded an honorary LL.D. by the university in 1947. In 1950 she was recognized by Chi Omega Sorority, receiving its first annual Distinguished Service Award for Women in North Carolina. Her house, containing both family heirlooms and many pieces acquired during her travels, became almost a museum itself.

She was buried in Fairview Cemetery, Warrenton.


Katherine Clark Pendleton Arrington Papers (North Carolina State Art Museum, Raleigh).

Asheville Citizen, 15 Apr. 1955.

Durham Morning Herald, 14 Apr. 1955.

Carl Goerch, Characters . . . Always Characters (1945).

Greensboro Daily News, 14 Apr. 1955.

North Carolina: The Old North State and the New, vol. 5 (1941).

Raleigh News and Observer, 10 Dec. 1933, 6 Apr. 1950, 13 and 29 Apr. 1955.