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LaFontaine, Ernest (Adrian Lewis FSC)

 Record Group — Multiple Containers
Identifier: NY-409-1837


  • Other: All Dates

Biographical / Historical

Brother Adrian Lewis La Fontaine, F.S.C., a Christian Brother, became well known for his etched portraits on leaves and flower pedals. A native of Champlain, NY, he began his journey into the brotherhood in 1907 where he entered the congregation at St. Joseph's in Pocantico Hills, NY. He received the religious habit of the Institute of Brothers of the Christian Schools in 1909 where he began “his life in the service of God.” Brother Lewis taught subjects such as typing, shorthand, bookkeeping and commercial law in his early years. He served at La Salle Institute, the Christian Brothers Academy, St. Ann’s Commercial School, St. Mary’s High School, Waltham Mass., De Las Salle Institute and St. James Diocesan High School (now known as Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School). It was in 1914 that Brother Lewis noticed a trail left by insects on leaves, in which he then wondered if he could duplicate the same kind of tracing on leaves. He was able to etch designs on leaves, and soon after flower petals using pins, needles, razor blades and eventually modern woodcarving tools. The designs on the leaves and petals were able to stay preserved for years if pressed in a book. Among the designs etched, Brother Lewis created images of both religious scenes and famous people such as President Kennedy and wife Jackie, Cardinal Spellman, former Presidents Truman and Eisenhower Popes Pius XII and John XXIII. Brother believed that his etchings were worth more than anyone could buy, and awarded them to individuals based on Merit. Many of the Brother’s “boys” who received these etching were Manhattan College alumni. Brother Lewis joined Manhattan College in 1933 as a professor of French. In 1936 he became the head of the Department of Spanish, a position that he held for ten years. From 1938 to 1945 he was the publicity director and from 1938 to 1961 he was the director of placement. Brother lived on campus until his final year when he joined the Holy Gamily Community of the Christian Brothers at St. Joseph’s Normal Institute, Barrytown, NY. Manhattan College awarded Brother Lewis with two honors; the Bonus et Fidelis Medal for his 25 years of devoted service to the school in 1958 and honored his 50th year as a Brother at the Golden Jubilee celebration on March 19, 1959. Brother passed away in on January 31 at the age of 72, in Rhinebeck Hospital, Rhinebeck NY. He is survived by three brothers, Noah, Anthony and Eugene Fontaine, all of Plattsburgh NY. He was buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, NY.


1 Linear Feet (1 document box (2.5") and 1 flat box.)

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Repository Details

Part of the De La Salle Christian Brothers Archives of the New York District Repository

O'Malley Library, Room 200
4513 Manhattan College Parkway
Riverdale New York 10471