As an artist, Ira J. Deen (1874 – 1952) was a visual historian of the Susquehanna Valley. His works often reflect his plein air painting along the Susquehanna River and at Fort Hunter (where he painted with the 7 Lively Artists when he was much older) and near Wildwood. Although he painted an occasional urban scene, Deen's passion was nature and landscape in all its simple beauty and diverse mood.
Born Dec. 9, 1874, in Mount Union, Ira J. Deen moved to Harrisburg with his family when he was 16. He became a painter for the Harrisburg Traction Co., painting the city's first electric trolleys at the old car barn at North Third and Delaware Streets. From 1903 to 1938, Deen worked in the Pennsylvania Railroad paint shops, working on the line's private cars. Deen and his wife, Mary Virginia, lived at 3604 N. Fourth St. in old Estherton. His studio and gallery were on the second floor. The back yard extended to North Third Street, providing and unobstructed view to the Susquehanna River. Deen was founder and treasurer of the Harrisburg Sketch Club, forerunner of the old Harrisburg Art Association Studio. He died June 7, 1952.