September 13, 2010
Southold Historical Society
P.O. Box 1
Southold, NY 11971
Rare Collection of Images by East Marion, Long Island Photographer Acquired by Southold Historical Society
SOUTHOLD, NY. The Southold Historical Society is pleased to announce the acquisition of a large collection of stereoview and other photographic images by East Marion, Long Island photographer Loren A. Rowley (1858-1918).
Unusual for his time, Rowley, in addition to being a photographer, was a Baptist minister who first arrived in East Marion in 1896 to take up the post of pastor at the East Marion Baptist (now community) Church, located on Route 25. “It was not that common for a serving minister to have another career during his period of service,” noted Geoffrey K. Fleming, Director of the Society. “It is the only case that I am currently aware of on eastern Long Island,” he continued.
Rowley was born in Broadalbin, a small farming community in Fulton County, New York. He was first appointed to the pastorate of Earlville, also upstate, before serving pastor in East Marion from 1896 through 1904, when he was appointed pastor of the Conklin Avenue Baptist Church, located in Binghamton, New York.
Rowley not only took individual still photographs, but also offered for sale “stereoview” or “stereopticon” cards for viewing his images. These types of cards allowed an individual to use a specialized viewer (stereoscope) to see images that appeared to be 3-dimensional. The stereoscope became popular when Great Britain’s Queen Victoria and Prince Albert observed one at the exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851. This signaled the beginning of a huge trade in stereoscopes and images and according to one source “ . . . it is estimated that by the mid 1850’s over a million homes owned one.” Rowley held a special exhibition and demonstration of his “stereopticons” at the East Marion Baptist Church as part of a meeting of the Good Templar’s in December of 1896.
During his time on the North Fork he took photographs in and around the community of East Marion, located between Greenport and Orient. There are images showing street scenes in winter; of flowers arranged neatly for services; and even an image of the top of the Baptist church being painted. “This last image is quite extraordinary as it shows the painter at the very top of the steeple but is shot nearly on level - meaning Rowley must have been on top of the old East Marion school with all his equipment to take the image,” continued Fleming.
In addition to very local scenes, Rowley also traveled on eastern Long Island, Shelter Island, and Gardiner’s Island to take images. Within the collection of the Society are shots of the old Gardiner Manor on Gardiner’s Island while under renovation. Also part of the collection are an amazing series of images taken at Camp Wyckoff at Montauk.
Following America’s participation in the Spanish American War, soldiers returned to Camp Wyckoff near Montauk for fear of infecting the general population with tropical diseases they had gotten abroad. The camp served as a remote location where these soldiers could be quarantined until they recuperated. Over 20,000 soldiers were evacuated to Camp Wyckoff before it closed and 257 soldiers died while receiving medical treatment. Rowley’s images show ships delivering soldiers/supplies to the camp as well as daily life there. This includes images of soldiers exercising, of the large tent city that sprang up, as well as the “canteen” of the camp.
The Rowley collection, comprising approximately 40 images, was partially purchased and donated, with funds for the purchase provided mainly by private donors. “The images are rare enough that we could not pass up the opportunity to acquire the first portion of the collection,” stated Fleming. “The additional images of Camp Wyckoff were gifted shortly after the purchase and greatly enhance the entire group,” he continued.
The Southold Historical Society hopes to exhibit some of the images next fall (2011) and publish a small monograph on Rowley and his contribution to local history.
For images relating to this release, or further information on the Society, please call (631) 765-5500 or visit us online at: www.southoldhistoricalsociety.org .