Plimpton - Mary Elizabeth Plimpton (1871-1943)


Plimpton - Mary Elizabeth Plimpton (1871-1943)

Mary Elizabeth Plimpton was born January 4, 1871 to James Leonard and Harriet Amelia (Adams) Plimpton in New York. Mary graduated from Franklin School (for girls) in 1887.

Mary Elizabeth’s father, James Leonard Plimpton (1828 - 1911) was an American inventor who is known for changing the skating world in 1863 when he patented a four-wheeled roller skate that allowed the skater to turn by leaning into a curve.

Plimpton built a roller skating floor in the office of his New York City furniture business and leased out his skates. As skating became popular he started building roller skating rinks. “The upscale social value that Plimpton attached to his rinks paid off in prestige and publicity. Everyone wanted in; not everyone was admitted. Prospective patrons had to first apply to Plimpton or to one of his rink managers, sending along personal references to prove themselves of “good social character.” Plimpton made the newspapers by inviting the “right people” into his posh premises. He conducted classes in the etiquette of skating, and he imparted exciting new techniques…” - “Roller Skating for Gold” by David H. Lewis, p. 12-14 and 32, published by Scarecrow Press, 1997

James Leonard Plimpton founded the New York Roller Skating Association in 1863.

In 1930 Miss Mary E. Plimpton, an indexer at the Registry of Deeds, and her sister, Miss Frances A. Plimpton lived at 11 Story Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts as did photographer Henry L. Rand’s friend, Alice Carpenter Allyn so that one might surmise that he knew Miss Plimpton through Miss Allyn however he photographed Mary Plimpton many times from 1891 to 1893. From at least 1900 to 1910 Mary and her sister, Frances, lived in Boston with their parents at 144 Warren Avenue.

Mary E. Plimpton died in Cambridge, Massachusetts on March 18, 1943 at the age of 72.


“Plimpton - Mary Elizabeth Plimpton (1871-1943),” Southwest Harbor Public Library Digital Archive, accessed February 20, 2019, 14606