I admit it: I get a real thrill taking pictures of historic home interiors on the other side of the velvet rope. It was an itch that I needed to scratch, and in the spring of 2016 an idea developed that I figured would grease this skid in the best possible way. If I got access to these buildings, I would donate the digital images to the historical societies with all reproduction rights granted. That meant that they could use these pictures for education, archiving, research, etc., but with one important obligation: that they would also use the images to raise money to help maintain their buildings. That’s the bargain. That’s the win/win.
Okay, so the portfolio consisted of one image of Princeton, NJ’s Thomas Clarke House kitchen, and little else. On the strength of that shot combined with my history in the photo industry and a burning desire get this project started, the board of Wisconsin’s Ozaukee County Historical Society, and Allen Buchholz, first vice president of the Society, in particular, were game to give my idea, and me, a chance.
The Society’s premier property is Pioneer Village, a safe haven for local historic buildings worth saving, in a protected environment. There are 24 structures on the campus, including a railroad depot dating back to 1907, houses from around the 1850s, a carpenter’s shop, blacksmith’s shop, and a professional building. It was in these buildings that I honed my skills and technique for capturing the charm and elegance of the past and for the way our ancestors lived their lives through hard work. These important relics of the historic past clearly inform the present.