As always, some of the images can be enlarged by clicking on them

HomoErectusHalfMil

This “doodle” was carved into a shell on the island of Java by homo erectus about half a million years ago…

Not long after homo-type beings invented themselves, somebody used her finger to draw the first picture in the dirt. Then somebody else noticed that you could get better line control by using a stick. And pretty soon somebody was selling sticks to draw with. That is how things work.

Neanderthal

The next time you are tempted to call someone a “Neanderthal”, consider that Neanderthals created the first hashtag in a cave at Gibraltar around 100,000 years ago…below, from the cave paintings at Lascaux in France, done by our homo sapiens ancestors around 400,000 years ago

Lascaux40Thou

As “art” evolved into sculpture and painting, somebody was always only a beat behind selling the tools to do art. The first books were written by hand and often included art, because even a dull book can be improved by a few pictures. When the first printing presses began rolling, art lagged a bit behind at first, but printers soon figured out how to include art.

Kells800CE

Handpainted page from the Book of Kells, Ireland, ca 800 CE…UNC-G’s Walter Clinton Jackson library has a copy…

Photography was invented in the early-mid 19th century. Almost from the start, somebody figured out how to make color photographs, but it took printers awhile to discover how to print even monochrome photos. Once that was accomplished, it was Katie bar the door.

AcadRear1885

Salem Female Academy campus, c 1885. At right and center the “new Academy” building (1854-56), later renamed Main Hall. At left rear, the “old Academy” building (1803-05), later renamed South Hall. The building at extreme left housed the dining hall and other functions. Note the bird hotel at right and the fact that some of the ladies are holding croquet mallets.

The first widely circulated photograph of a Winston-Salem location that we know of appears above. It was published in the 1885-86 Salem Female Academy Catalog and was distributed from coast to coast, because by then, the Academy was attracting students from all over the USA, with a sprinkling from Canada, the Caribbean, South America and even Europe.

Kodak1888

George Eastman’s first consumer camera appeared in 1888, and was simply called “the Kodak”. It came with roll film for 100 exposures and had to be returned to the factory for development. The initial cost was $25. The developing charge was $2, and the camera could be returned with a new 100 shot roll for $5. So once the original cost was amortized the cost was $7 per 100 2 1/2″ photographs. Twelve years later Eastman introduced the first “Brownie”, which was made out of cardboard and intended for children, but the quality of the photographs was so high that it was widely adopted by adults. The cost was only $1, with an optional 25¢ viewfinder. Millions of Brownies would eventually be sold.

In fact, the first locals to truly embrace photography were the Academy girls. As soon as George Eastman introduced his first “consumer” camera in 1888, they started popping up all over campus. Photography quickly worked its way into the Academy curriculum. And the term “Kodak fiend” became a common part of their vocabulary. They even formed “Kodak clubs”.

KodakClub1908

The Salem Female Academy Senior Kodak Club, 1908. There was a second club for non-seniors. The cameras are almost certainly all Kodak Brownies. Some of the young ladies carried their cameras everywhere, much like today’s smart phones.

 

By that same year, Edgar F. Barber had bought out C.G. Lanier’s large printing company on West Fourth Street and was in the process of moving to a new building on Third Street. As photographs became a more and more important part of his business, he began producing souvenir picture postcards for sale, many of them featuring his own business. A number of other local businesses had begun stocking cameras and film in a hit or miss manner. Barber became the first to offer a complete array of consumer photography products.

BarberOwensBowen

A Barber Printing postcard, c 1915, shows Edgar Barber’s printing, stationery and photo supply business on West Third Street, across from the courthouse. The building at the right housed Robert Bowen’s music store, which would eventually evolve into the Jesse G. Bowen Piano Company. The narrow three story building housed the Owens Drugstore on the first floor, with doctors’ offices on the floors above. At far left is the Twin City’s first “skyscraper”, the seven story Wachovia Bank & Trust Company building, designed by the famous southern arcxhitect Franklin Pierce Milburn. In 1917, it would be expanded one bay west, taking the Owens Drug space, plus four bays to the south, and an eighth story added. It is the only building in this picture still standing.

Within a decade, that business had outgrown his Third Street space, so on March 1, 1918, he opened a separate business, Barber Photo Supply, on West Fifth Street, across from the post office. That business was managed by W.W. Stroud, and was an immediate success.

Lindley1995

This 1995 photo, taken just before this block of buildings was demolished to make way for the new transit center, is the only one we have showing the exterior of the Barber – Lindley Photo Supply building. At the time that Barber Photo Supply opened in 1918, the leftmost building was occupied by two real estate companies; the next by J.N. Davis & Co, dry goods, later the Davis Department Store; the next was shared by Barber Photo and E.L. Craven, typewriters; and the tallest at the right was the Gilmer Brothers Sample Store, another dry goods dealer. If you click for the full sized image and look closely, you can see the old Lindley Photo signs on the facade.

FrankJones1938

Frank Jones, 1938

By the late 1920s, Barber was ready to retire. He sold the photo shop to Henry Lindley. Because Barber had done such a great job of building his brand, Lindley decided to retain the Barber name. A few years later, he hired a teenaged “Kodak fiend” named Frank Jones. Frank was already selling his pictures to the local newspaper, and would soon become a local legend in photography. His personal collection of photographs, which included a great many historical pictures from the 19th and early 20th centuries, would eventually become the basis of the Forsyth County Public Library’s collection, one of the best in the South.

HenrySrJr

Henry Lindley Senior and Junior in their store

The Historic American Buildings Survey was begun in 1933, a joint effort of the American Institute of Architects, the National Park Service and the Library of Congress to document our national architectural heritage. In 1934, Barber Photo Supply agreed to furnish some of the first photos.

HABSBoysSch34

The kitchen and bake oven of the Salem Boys School are among the many images in the HABS collection supplied by Barber Photo Supply.

Soon thereafter, Lindley’s son, Henry, Jr., joined the firm. By the early 1950s, the Lindley name had become synonymous with photography on the local scene. In early 1955, the Lindley’s reincorporated the company as Lindley Photo. At that point, they had already been in business at the same location for over 25 years. They would remain in place until George, Jr. shut the business down in 1991, having had a run of over sixty years.

FirstAd1955

First ad under the “new” Lindley Photo name, July, 1955

Today, the dominant force in photography is the well known software program, Photoshop, which played an important role in this blog post. But it was not the first photo shop in the Twin City.

BarberLindInterior

Lindley Photo was, for sixty years, the prime hangout for Twin City “Kodak fiends”

 

 

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