Tag Archives: Preservation

The Mystery Man Who Spent 20 Years Photographing North American Buildings

10 Jul
Grand Forks, North Dakota, May 1990.

Grand Forks, North Dakota, May 1990.

In May of 1982, Barry Gfeller left his home in Camas, Washington,* got into his car, and began to drive.

His plan was similar to eight previous road trips he’d already taken, and 14 more he would embark on in the years to come: to photograph the streets and buildings of towns across the United States and Canada. For nearly two decades, Gfeller would periodically hit the road to continue what became a mammoth photographic survey. In May 1982 alone, he photographed over 200 towns, traveling as far north as Edmonton and as far east as Milwaukee. When Gfeller died in 1999, his collection—which he arranged alphabetically, stored in long wooden boxes—consisted of 50,000 prints and negatives.

“Ultimately, Gfeller drove over 100,000 miles across 44 states and six Canadian provinces between 1977 and 1996,” says Mike O’Neill, a political strategist who first learned about Gfeller in 2016. After Gfeller died, the collection made its way from his estate to a Canadian charity. Sixteen years later, the charity asked O’Neill to help find a buyer who could donate the work to a museum. They didn’t have to look far. Fascinated, O’Neill purchased the collection himself in 2017. He’s now begun to digitize the prints, and is searching for a long-term home for Gfeller’s archive.

So begins Anika Burgess’s fascinating post about Barry Gfeller the photographer. You may read the rest of story, with sample photographs, at Atlas Obscura here.

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The Woodbury County Iowa Courthouse 100th Anniversary Virtual Tour

7 May

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

The Woodbury County Courthouse, Sioux City, Iowa is 100 years old, and it is a magnificent example of Prairie Style architecture. Take a look at this virtual tour and see for yourself.

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How One Agency Is Fixing American Amnesia About Reconstruction

14 Sep

A new initiative by the National Parks Service seeks to designate sites for their historic significance in the Reconstruction era. It’s a bold and vital move for an agency that has only recently begun to seriously address the racial complexities of the Civil War. Read Maura Ewing’s report at the Pacific Standard about this here: How One Agency Is Fixing American Amnesia About Reconstruction – Pacific Standard

This Replica of a Tlingit Killer Whale Hat Is Spurring Dialogue About Digitization

11 Sep

Collaboration between museums and indigenous groups provides educational opportunities, archival documentation—and ethical dilemmas. Read Meilan Solly’s report here at the Smithsonian: This Replica of a Tlingit Killer Whale Hat Is Spurring Dialogue About Digitization | At the Smithsonian | Smithsonian

American Historical Association Statement on Confederate Monuments (August 2017)

30 Aug

The American Historical Association welcomes the emerging national debate about Confederate monuments. Much of this public statuary was erected without such conversations, and without any public decision-making process. Across the country, communities face decisions about the disposition of monuments and memorials, and commemoration through naming of public spaces and buildings. These decisions require not only attention to historical facts, including the circumstances under which monuments were built and spaces named, but also an understanding of what history is and why it matters to public culture.

Read the rest of the statement here: AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments (August 2017) | AHA

I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery.

28 Aug

“Did the slaves here appreciate the care they got from their mistress?” one woman asked, pinchedly.

Read the rest of Margaret Biser’s account of leading tours that taught about slavery on a southern plantation: I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery. – Vox

Before Ellis Island Existed, Castle Garden Welcomed Houdini and Typhoid Mary

11 Apr

The immigration records from 1885 that shows, on line 33,”Friedr. Trumpf” – grandfather to Donald. (Photo: US Government/Public Domain)

How a one-time beer garden became an immigration hub.

Source: Before Ellis Island Existed, Castle Garden Welcomed Houdini and Typhoid Mary | Atlas Obscura

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