Friday, August 7, 2015

35/15 Photo Project - Introduction

   As some of you know, I am a costumed 18th century interpreter this summer at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. In my free time, I have been taking pictures around town for what I am calling the 35/15 Photo Project.

   Before I can talk about the project, a little background information is needed.

   Williamsburg was the capital of the colony of Virginia from 1699 to 1780. When the capital moved to Richmond in 1780, people (and money) moved as well, leaving the city to metaphorically freeze in time. Fast forward to the twentieth century, Williamsburg finally started to modernize. Falling-down 18th century buildings were replaced by modern ones. At the same time, the Rector at Bruton Parish Church, W.A.R. Goodwin, had a dream to bring Williamsburg back to the colonial era, so "That the future may learn from the past." After many fruitless attempts, he was able to convince John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to share his dream and finance the project. From 1926 to 1935, the town of Williamsburg transformed back to its colonial roots, becoming one of the first town-wide preservation effort in America. Eighty-eight 18th century buildings were saved and restored, while others were reconstructed using archaeology, research, and oral recollections. Since then, Williamsburg has become a mecca for families, colonial history, and preservation research.

   Once the initial Restoration was complete, Colonial Williamsburg hired F.S. Lincoln in 1935 to photograph the historic area. Lincoln (1894-1976) was a prominent architectural photographer from the 1930's to the 60's. His Williamsburg photographs were showcased full page in the December 1935 issue of Architectural Record, along with write-ups from the Restoration's architects, garden layouts, blueprint samples, and paint colors. These were some of the first images the world saw of the restored colonial capitol. The issue became so popular, the Williamsburg section of the issue was reprinted as a hardcover book - "The Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia." F.S. Lincoln made additional trips to Williamsburg in 1936 to photograph more, and an additional photo article appeared in Architectural Record in November 1936. Lincoln took over 200 photos. All are available to see from the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library's Omeka site HERE.

My copy of the December 1935 Architectural Record

   So, in honor of the pictures' 80th anniversary, I am re-shooting his images to see how our "18th century" has changed from 1935 to 2015. The goal is to shoot exactly from where Lincoln shot, with the same/similar shadows.

   There will be some technical differences. Lincoln and I have different cameras, not just in film and digital, but in camera lens' view shape and size. Lincoln had a bigger viewing window than my camera has, so some things might not fit entirely in the shot while keeping the same perspective. I also do not know when he took all of his pictures, and shadows unfortunately change throughout the year, so I might line up some shadows while others are way off.

   Most of the comparisons will be from photos that appear in the December 1935 Architectural Record (including some that are not taken by Lincoln). I will be reproducing some of Lincoln's other Williamsburg pictures, and, if time allows, I may also take requests.

It has been fun so far -- hope you enjoy it as well!

Learn more about F.S. Lincoln with Colonial Williamsburg's background information on him HERE.

Ludwell-Paradise House and Prentis Store
in 1935 and 2015

View the whole 35/15 Project:
Introduction (You are currently viewing this one)
Part 1 - College of William and Mary 
Part 2 - Merchants Square
Part 3 - Buildings that Move
Part 4 - Market Square
Part 5 - Ludwell-Paradise
Part 6 - Queen Street to Botetourt Street
Part 7 - Raleigh Tavern
Part 8 - Paints
Part 9 - Botetourt Street to the Capitol Area
Part 10 - Capitol
Part 11 - No Longer Here
Part 12 - Francis and Nicholson Streets
Part 13 - Garden Edition
Part 14 - The Governor's Palace Gardens
Part 15 - Inside the Governor's Palace

Bonus 35/15 Posts:
35/15: A Dessert Order
35/15: Life in Williamsburg in 1935
35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper
35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper II


  1. Cool idea! Is this for school or for fun?

    1. Thanks! This was just for fun! (I just graduated in May, yay!)