Nostalgic photo postcards, known as “real photo postcards”, were popular in the early 1900’s. Kodak even produced a special camera (the model #3A) and added a special postcard developing and printing service that made it easy for anyone to make their own photo postcard. Mailing a postcard was only a penny and the photo postcard itself cost between one and two cents. The postcard below is a “real photo postcard” mailed by Geneva (Eva) Reed, sister of Lewis Reed in 1910. It was mailed to her half-brother Rufus who lived in Point of Rocks, Maryland.
The photo of Woodlawn Hotel on the front of the postcard was taken by Phillip Reed (Lewis Reed’s brother). Lewis Reed’s photograph collection contains several hundred of these photo postcards dating from approximately 1907-1915. Many of these postcards are rare, one of a kind items and historical documents.
A bit of history about the Woodlawn Hotel: Opened as a luxury hotel in 1889 for Washingtonians seeking to escape the city’s summer heat, the Woodlawn Hotel thrived until the economy and more accessible transportation made Rockville a suburb of Washington rather than a summer vacation destination. The hotel was then purchased by Dr. Ernest L. Bullard who reopened the building, naming it Chestnut Lodge, as “a sanitarium for the care of nervous and mental diseases”. The Bullard family operated nationally famous Chestnut Lodge for 75 years. The building was conveyed to a developer in 2003 with the intention to convert it to condominiums as part of the development of the Chestnut Lodge property. The facade and the chestnut grove from which it got its name were to be preserved. The downturn in the real estate market derailed those plans.
Sadly, a fire on June 7, 2009 destroyed the landmark building that began as Woodlawn Hotel and came to symbolize the psychiatric institution of Chestnut Lodge. Today, the Chestnut Lodge campus is preserved for the community and consists of Little Lodge, Frieda’s Cottage, a Stable and an Ice House, and eight acres of forested lawn.
The postcard below reads:
Your letter received. Mama wants the board and stand too, for our board is not any good. Grafton is still in Washington but I don’t know how long he will be there he has about finished painting for this winter. I sent your letter to him today. Did you receive the pictures, and were they small enough for the lockets? I will close love to and from all. Come down when you can. Lovingly, Eva Reed
Uncle Lewis Thompson’s address is 511 G St N.W.
Lewis Reed’s albums contain several hundred of these photo postcards dating from approximately 1907-1915. What makes this particular photo postcard so special is, it was sent from Lewis Reed to Ethlene Thomas. Lewis Reed married the former Ethlene Thomas of Frederick County on June 15, 1920. This is a real photo postcard — one in which the photographic paper on which the photo was developed was itself then sent as the postcard. The stamp is a one penny stamp with the image of Benjamin Franklin. The Benjamin Franklin series stamp was issued by the U.S. Post Office between 1908 and 1922.
What I love about the address is how it’s addressed merely to “Miss Ethlene Thomas, New Market, Frederick Co, MD. I have a feeling, however, that the postcard would have found it’s way even had “New Market” been left off the card.
The card reads:
You can look for me Friday afternoon between 6 and 7 o’clock or sooner, if it is not raining. I will be there sooner if I can.
As ever, L. Reed
Kodak made photo paper in standard 3 1/2 by 5 1/2 postcard size with “Post Card” printed on the back. Lewis Reed developed all of his own photographs. He had a darkroom in his house — in the kitchen, to be exact — and worked at night to develop the negatives. This gave him the ability to take the paper into his dark room and produce a real photo postcard. This one is definitely a treasure.