Latrobe Art Center gives residents a dose of nostalgia

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Harry Frye photographed community events, sites, and people for the Latrobe Bulletin in an era when homegrown news trumped national and world affairs in local newspapers.

Patrons of the Latrobe Art Center say we are all richer for his legacy.

Until July 10, some 65 of Mr. Frye's black-and-white photographs of the town, taken in the 1940s and 1950s will be on display at the art center, 819 Ligonier St.

The free show, titled Good Old Latrobe began last month.

"It's a little of a 'remember when' kind of show," center director and artist Gabi Nastuck said.

The exhibit coincides with the city's lavish July 4 celebration that marks our nation's birthday with ongoing activities through the Fourth.

In most cases, Mr. Frye's images serve as a slice of America in depicting small-town life in the days of family-operated corner drugstores, white-capped soda jerks, main street movie theaters, independent dress shops, diners with shiny linoleum floors and counter stools -- images of which appear in the collection.

There is also a picture of locally-owned Kamps Shoe Store, which occupied the site now housing the art center.

"A lot of people come in and say they bought shoes here," gallery assistant Ginny Hutchinson said. "The photographs really get people talking about the old days."

Among the photographs are a delivery car for prescription medicine parked at Stricklers Drug Store; children and store owner posed in front of The Welcome Meat Market and swimmers at Patty's swimming hole in Old Loyalhanna Creek.

There is also a photograph of the Bell Telephone switchboard center with rows of female operators. The center was located at Ligonier and Depot streets. There is a photo of Ligonier Street from the railroad overpass with the Loyal Hotel on the left and Rolling Rock Brewery in the background and a parade in front of the Manos Theater with Fred MacMurray starring in "Father was a Fullback" on the marquee.

"I love the old town. I feel bad that all the buildings are gone,'' Kathy Rafferty said. The artist and vice president of the art center's board of directors grew up in Latrobe.

The nonprofit art center, which opened in 2002, offers classes, exhibits, workshops, children's camps, performances, events, cafe and community partnerships. Memberships are available.

Mr. Frye, 89, worked for the Bulletin from 1950 to 1964. In his agreement with the publisher, he retained ownership of the photographs.

To make them available for sale, he and his brother, Robert Frye, 80, formed Fantastic Fotographica.

The art center exhibit was purchased by Ms. Nastuck and the the Town Planner agency, which plans to publish some in its 2014 calendar.

Once the exhibit ends, Ms. Nastuck will use the photographs for fundraising purposes.

The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Details: or call 724-537-7011. For Fantastic Fotographica, visit:

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Margaret Smykla, freelance writer:


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