Pennsylvania man donates photos to historical society

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POTTSVILLE, Pa. -- When John F. Kennedy visited Pottsville on Oct. 28, 1960, during his campaign for the White House, one of the onlookers was a 13-year-old boy with a camera.

"That was amazing. I didn't know who Kennedy was. The only president I knew was Eisenhower. I was intrigued by the man, the way he went about talking and everything. And I got some good photos," George S. Lord, now 66, of Pottsville, said,

Since then, Mr. Lord has developed a passion for local events and landmarks.

Recently, he donated more than 70 photo albums containing thousands of pictures to the Schuylkill County Historical Society. It's titled The Photographic Collection of George S. Lord.

Society president David Derbes said Tuesday one of his goals for 2014 will be to work with Mr. Lord to put together a book based on it.

"We might call it 'Pottsville: Then and Now,' " Mr. Lord said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Derbes and Mr. Lord worked together to organize the collection at the Schuylkill County Meeting House, which is the meeting room at the society's headquarters at 305 N. Centre St.

They stacked photos by categories, which included: Winter Carnival, car cruises, Memorial Day parades, St. Patrick's Day parades and soap box derby.

Born in Pottsville, Oct. 21, 1947, Mr. Lord graduated from Pottsville Area High School in 1965. He served in the Air Force and went on to work as a purchasing manager for Tamaqua Cable Products in Schuylkill Haven. He is now retired.

Mr. Lord has a connection to the late Pottsville Mayor Claude A. Lord.

Claude A. Lord was mayor from 1934 to 1950, according to "Pottsville Bicentennial Vol. 3," compiled by the Pottsville Bicentennial Committee in 2006.

"We're third cousins," he said.

He said his love for local landmarks spurred his interest in photography 40 years ago.

"Over the year, they were tearing buildings down and putting parking lots up. So I thought, 'somebody has to keep a record of all of this stuff.' So I tried to take as many photos as possible," Mr. Lord said.

He said he also collected newspaper clippings and images taken by others.

"Most of the photos here I took, I'd say 85 to 87 percent of it," Mr. Lord said.

"This is an incredible collection," Mr. Derbes said as he flipped through a series of photos of the former Capitol Theatre at 218-220 N. Centre St. It was razed in 1982, according to cinematreasures.org.

In its place, the Capitol Parking Deck, a 234-space, four-level parking garage was built at Centre and Race streets in 1995, according to The Republican-Herald archives.

"We have pictures inside the Capitol Theatre. We even have photos of the concession stand, and the complete demolition of the theater," Mr. Derbes said.

There are also photos of the former Tilt Silk Mill, which opened in July 1888. The property is now home of Ed's USA, 303 N. 12th St., Pottsville.

Over the years, Mr. Lord said he tried to organize his collection.

"I tried to document everything. With every picture I took, I wrote on the back what it was about," he said.

Mr. Derbes started going through the numerous photo albums last month.

"I said if we're going to do anything with these, we have to organize them," Mr. Derbes said.

"We're hoping to put a book together," Mr. Lord said.

"That's our ultimate goal. And there's enough here, I don't think we should have a problem finding material," Mr. Derbes said.

"I feel it's important to preserve our history, especially on the local level and that's what I tried to do here. Many years from now future generations will see how the City of Pottsville has grown," Mr. Lord said.

With him at the society Tuesday was his granddaughter, Julie Sippel, 18, of Schuylkill Haven.

"He had these on a bookshelf in a back room," Ms. Sippel said, referring to the stacks of albums.

Mr. Lord said he's sure he has more, and there will no doubt be future photo albums. "I just got another camera for Christmas."



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