Tag Archive | early photography

Reed Family “Real Photo Postcard” (1910)

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.

1910 real photo postcard

Postcard addressed to Rufus Reed from Eva Reed. Note the cost of the postage stamp is just one penny.

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 Many of these postcards are rare, one of a kind items and historical documents.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.

1910 real photo postcard

Postcard image was taken by Phillip Reed (Lewis Reed’s brother) of Woodlawn Hotel before it became Chestnut Lodge in 1910.

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.

1910 real photo postcard

A Look Back at What Halloween in Montgomery County Looked Like 100 Years Ago

Ever wondered how Montgomery County families celebrated Halloween 100 years ago? Thanks to the these photographs from Lewis Reed’s collection, we can travel all the way back to 1914.

At the turn of the century, women often wore their regular clothes topped with homemade masks. The first Halloween costumes were usually worn by women and reflected the idea of masquerades that was extremely popular in the early 1900s. People only began to buy manufactured costumes in the second and third decades of the 20th century.

1900s Halloween costumes

Halloween, ca. 1914. These women are holding homemade Halloween masks for their upcoming celebration. Photo by Lewis Reed

Oh the good ol’ days, when wearing a mask was enough to be dressed up for celebrations! Do you know how your ancestors’ celebrated Halloween? Newspapers are a great source to get a better understanding of life in the past. This special post is a look back through newspaper articles and Lewis Reed’s photographs at how Halloween was celebrated 100 years ago.

Stocked Stores: Stores were stocked with all the Halloween supplies needed for a fun celebration. Below is an ad for costumes and masquerade suits for those participating in Halloween parties and other seasonal affairs.

1916 Halloween Costumes

The Washington Post, October 30, 1916

Dancing and Parties: Halloween parties and dancing were enjoyed by many. Some announcements even included a list of guests in attendance!

Halloween Dancing in 1912

The Baltimore Sun, November 3, 1912

Here is the description of a Halloween party from the Society Section of the November, 1916 issue of The Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia):

A Halloween party was given last evening… and a merry evening spent by those present. The reception hall, living and dining rooms were artistically decorated with autumn leaves, lanterns, chrysanthemums and orange and black streamers. The evening was spent in old-fashioned games, concluding with the entire assemblage gathering about an open fireplace in the dark, while the guests were led by a ghost through various parts of the darkened home. The evening’s entertainment concluded with music, dancing and the serving of refreshments.

1900s Halloween

This photo captures a moment from a Halloween gathering over 100 years ago. Photo by Lewis Reed

Any sort of Halloween festivities demanded some sort of refreshment. In addition to traditional pumpkin pies and molasses cookies, a suggested dish to serve at Halloween parties was a Halloween salad.

Halloween Salad

Halloween Pranks: Witches and goblins, ghosts and mischief-making youngsters were permitted to enjoy all the Halloween revelry they liked … BUT DON’T THROW FLOUR. Yes, apparently in the early 1900s, there wasn’t much to do for entertainment, so kids would knock on doors on Halloween night and throw flour at whoever answered. To the modern observer, some of the traditions of Halloween 100 years ago are downright bizarre.

1916 Halloween Pranks

The Evening Star, October 31, 1916

Halloween Parades: Halloween parades actually began because pranks and mischief had gotten out of control. By 1920, there was a push to turn Halloween into a holiday centered around community gatherings and festive Halloween parades, rather than mischief. 

Early 1900s Halloween Clown

There is something undeniably creepy about this clown in sunglasses riding on a horse in a Halloween Parade. Location is unknown. Photo by Lewis Reed

Wishing all my friends, followers, and visitors of this blog a very safe and happy Halloween!

The Legendary Lake House Hotel of Horror, Then & Now

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to feature a photograph that Lewis Reed took of the Saylorsburg Lake House Hotel, now the site of Hotel of Horror. The aging Lake House Hotel in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, once a vibrant Poconos retreat, was a popular hotel for the region’s tourists who were looking for fun on nearby Saylors Lake. During the hotel’s heyday, its staff was booking rooms a year in advance. Today, the former hotel’s fame is generated from its annual Halloween haunted-house attraction.

Lake House Hotel (THEN): The legend of the Lake House Hotel spans more than two-hundred years. According to local folklore, during World War II, many of the employees at the Lake House were called to assist in the Pennsylvania National Guard, leaving the local asylum with one lone security guard to watch over the entire building. The inmates escaped, made their way to the hotel and took it over. The insane patients performed experiments on the guests. What was once a renowned resort for the rich and famous, became a torture chamber.

Saylorsburg Lake House

Saylorsburg Lake House Hotel. Photo taken by Lewis Reed, 1915.

Hotel of Horror (NOW): The hotel was purchased in 1990 and turned into an Antique Co-Op, and then in 1992 saw its first haunted house attraction. This 2021 season will celebrate the 29th year that the Hotel of Horror has been fascinating and horrifying legions of fans from the far reaches of the United States and even internationally. To all the readers of this blog: Have a spooky, enjoyable and very safe Halloween!

Saylorsburg Hotel of Horror

Welcome to The Hotel of Horror, The Pocono Mountains Premier Haunted House Attraction

Happy Halloween

A Fun Photograph of Early Rockville: Then & Now

It’s always amazing to look back at the past and see how everything we know today once was. This is exactly why photography is one of the most brilliant inventions ever created – it has documented so many epic moments over the years, and provides the perfect portal to step back in time for just a few moments. In this special “Then & Now” feature, I have combined one of Lewis Reed’s original photograph’s for “then” and paired it with a Google composite image for “now”. 

St Mary’s Catholic Church (THEN): This fun and interesting photograph taken by Lewis Reed is one of my favorites. The photo shows William Beall in his 1915 Pullman in front of old St Mary’s Church and his younger brother Vernon on horseback “towing” him to Reed Brothers. The photo was taken from in front of Lewis Reed’s Rockville Garage which was directly across from St Mary’s Church. Several of the Beall family were original employees at Reed Brothers, including: Leonard Beall (paint/auto body shop), Otis Beall, Walter (Bud) Beall, and Mary Anna (Slater) Beall (Bookkeeper). Bud and Otis Beall were two of Reed Brothers’ original Gulf Gasoline Station attendants.

Old St Mary's Church Rockville

Early transportation powered by true “horsepower”. Photo taken by Lewis Reed, 1915

St Mary’s Catholic Church (NOW): Today, the church overlooks the same intersection of roads now called Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike. With the 1950s addition of Hungerford Drive as a bypass to Rockville’s commercial street, this is a busy intersection. It is arguably the symbolic cross-road for the county, and locals refer to it as “the mixing bowl” for its unconventional configuration and heavy volume of traffic. The church’s prominent location and its connection to author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is buried in its cemetery, contribute to St. Mary’s status as a landmark in Rockville.

St Mary's Catholic Church

St Mary’s Catholic Church, Google Image, 2021

Lewis Reed Glass Plate Negatives Collection

Lewis Reed’s love of photography began at a very young age, at a time when most families did not own a camera. The oldest photo in his collection (Fearon’s Pharmacy, pictured below) is dated 1898, which would have made him around 11-12 years old when he started using a camera.

Fearon's Pharmacy Rockville 1912

Vinson’s Drug Store Fearon’s Pharmacy (as named in the window). (also Owen’s and Vinson’s at other times). L to R Tom Talbott, Wardlow Mason, Otho Talbott, unknown, Dr. Fearon. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1898.

The print below was originally made from Lewis Reed’s glass negatives collection. His full collection dates from about 1898 to 1960, and includes 280 glass negatives and 2500+ photographic prints, the majority of them more than 100 years old. The early 1900s were considered by many to be the golden era of early photography, because of its new availability to the public and somewhat simplified production methods. Many of Lewis Reed’s early photographs are now part of Montgomery History’s photo archives.

The following is an excerpt taken from the Summer 2011 edition of the Montgomery County Historical Society Newsletter.

The Sween Library was recently given a collection of 280 glass plate negatives, showing Montgomery County in the early 20th century. Lewis Reed was a well-known photographer in the county as well as owner (along with his brother Edgar) of Reed Brothers, the Rockville automobile dealership. The collection was donated to the Society by Mr. Reed’s daughter, Mary Jane Reed Gartner.

There are scenes of different areas of the county, buildings, events such as the county fair, and local people. These are a welcomed addition to our growing graphics collection.

1922 print made from glass plate negative

Print made from a Lewis Reed glass negative, showing the Reed Brothers dealership in 1922. On the top left, you can see a crack in the glass.

The photograph below shows Lewis Reed and his family posing in front of a camera set up on a tripod. Lewis Reed is holding a dry glass plate encased inside a holder in his left hand to protect it from the light. Because Lewis used dry plates, he could carry them to locations and expose them, then carry them back to his darkroom to process them. He developed all of his own photographs in a darkroom in his house —  in the kitchen, to be exact — and worked at night to develop the negatives. He likely needed considerable chemical and technical knowledge to develop the plates and print photographs.

On location, once he had identified the subject of the potential photograph, the dry glass plate holder would be inserted into the camera, the cover would be removed from the holder to reveal the negative, the lens cover quickly removed to take the photograph and re-covered, and finally the plate holder cover replaced before it was taken out of the camera. Lewis Reed wrote in pencil on the back of the holder a brief subject description. The image on the negative would then be stored to develop at a later point in a darkroom.

West Virginia Cola Mine, ca. 1926

Nel Thomas Hollis, Ethelene Reed, daughter Mary Jane, and Lewis Reed at West Virginia Coal Mine, ca. 1926.

Photography became a lifelong passion for Lewis Reed that expanded in later years to include movies that he made not only of his family, but on his several trips to various parts of the world. The majority of photo prints from his albums were taken during the early part of the 20th century (ca. 1900-1930). His entire collection spans more than six decades and showcases his love for people, automobiles, events, landmarks, and travel throughout the first half of the 20th century.

He had a great eye for composition and seemed to be drawn to historical events and landmark locations, including the Smithsonian, Capitol, Union Station, Old Post Office, Library of Congress, Raleigh Hotel, grading of Massachusetts Ave in DC, and Key Bridge. There are also photographs of many non-Maryland locations including the historic landmark “Lucy the Elephant”, Gettysburg Battlefield/Monuments, Mount Vernon, Pennsylvania Monument and United States Regulars Monuments while under construction, and Quebec Bridge (the 8th Wonder of the World).

Wright Brothers Military Flyer

Wright Brothers Military Flyer in its hangar at Fort Myer, Virginia. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1908

Other highlights include Montgomery County Grist Mills, Rockville’s first pipe stem water tower, 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, and rare photos of the Wright Brothers Flyer in a demonstration at Fort Myer, VA. Especially stunning are images of the aftermath of the 1936 Gainesville Georgia tornado, one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history. He also took aftermath photos of the 1929 Montgomery County F3 Tornado that devastated northeastern Montgomery County.

If there’s an historical wayside marker on the side of the road in Montgomery County, chances are, one of Lewis Reed’s images is on it. Some of the markers that display his photographs include the Andrew Small Academy Marker in Darnestown, The Origins of Darnestown Marker, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station Marker in Gaithersburg, From Trolley to Trail Marker in Bethesda, Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church Marker in Rockville and the 19th Century Crossroads Marker in Darnestown.

B&O Railroad Station Wayside Marker

B&O Railroad Station Historical Marker located on South Summit Avenue in Gaithersburg, MD.

B&O Railroad Station, Gaithersburg 1911

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station in Gaithersburg. Original photograph displayed on the marker taken by Lewis Reed in 1911.

Of particular interest is Lewis Reed’s collection of manipulated photographs. He was 100 years ahead of his time by creating special effects to images long before the convenience and efficiency of digital photography and Photoshop were ever imaginable. Lewis Reed used a wide variety of effects, including hand-tinting, double exposure, applied handwork, and creating images that made it look as if there were ghosts in the picture. It’s pretty amazing how his early photography shows such versatility and creativity considering the limited tools that were available at the time.

early 1900s double exposure image

A double exposure image of Lewis Reed’s brother, Edgar, seated on both sides of a table. Photo by Lewis Reed

In the double exposure photo above, Lewis Reed’s brother, Edgar, is playing cards with himself. The thing to look out for is to see that nothing inanimate in the scene is moved during the time of making the two pictures — in this case, you can tell the angle of the camera changed slightly when Edgar moved to the other side of the table for the second shot.

His photographs comprise a remarkable historic record of Montgomery County life in the early 20th century.

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