Kevin Johnson, photo archivist for the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, will present “Damariscotta Maine: The Postcard View; Selections from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company” on Sunday, July 18 at 3 p.m. at the Inn Along the Way, 741 Main St. in Damariscotta. The slide show and talk will present the story of the postcard company as well as historical views of Damariscotta and its neighboring towns. This should be a very interesting and fun show and additional information from attendees will make it even more so.
The Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company was founded in 1909 in Belfast by Rudolph Herman Cassens. Cassens’ goal was to photograph small towns and rural areas from Maine to California, producing “real photo” postcards that would be valued for promoting tourism.
Cassens did not fulfill his dream of photographing the entire country, but his company did produce over 50,000 glass plate negatives of New England and Upstate New York between 1909 and 1947. The collection is full of historic businesses, family homes, and local landmarks.
The images are fascinating on many levels, taking viewers back in time to when the roads were still dirt, horse drawn carriages outnumbered cars, coastlines were undeveloped, and elms lined the streets. The collection is now part of the archives of the Penobscot Marine Museum and continues to grow as more negatives that “escaped” from the collection are located and acquired.
Copies of the book Maine on Glass about the collection will be available for purchase. The PMM Photo Archive offers more than 100,000 images in their database on the museum website penobscotMarinemuseum.org.
Johnson moved to Maine from Vermont in 2003. Deciding to make the leap from conventional 9 to 5 jobs to pursue a career in fine art photography, he attended the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport where he received his Professional Certificate in Photography. While at the workshop, he began working on the Eastern Illustrating collection. At that time the photos were stored in Union Hall in Rockport.
Disaster struck one day when the pipes burst at the Hall and threatened the collection. Johnson was there to help with the rescue of the precious photos. The near ruin of the collection prompted the donation of the photos to Penobscot Marine Museum. He tagged along with the collection to Searsport where he currently works as the photography archivist.
He was one of the founding members of Aarhus Gallery in Belfast and has created numerous exhibits as well as teaching photography classes for the museum. Today Johnson manages an archive of over 200,000+ photographs for the museum.
Please consider a donation of $5 or more to support the Damariscotta Historical Society’s programs. Alas, the days of no-cost events are also part of history. Join the group for an afternoon of sharing this heritage with the community and friends. All are welcome. Direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 380-6090.