Mckinley School – Then and Now

First of all, thanks to the World Museum of Mining

Photo Archives for letting me use one of their copyrighted photos for this project! It’s a great group of people that have a huge job and are doing awesome at it. The thousands of photos in the archives are amazing. People can browse through the albums, search the database for specific buildings and people, and can order prints up at the museum.

This project, which I haven’t thought of a name for, has been an idea of mine for years. Since I was a freshman in college using film. That was about five years ago. I want to photograph buildings and areas of town and sandwich them with a historical photo to show the similarities and differences in time.

The original photo in this image is of Mckinley School (now Park St. Baptist Church) on fire. You can see the students in the middle of the road and on the sidewalk on the right. You can also faintly see firetrucks in the middle of the road, and a playground at the base of the building on the left. I believe I read that the fire was in 1913, but I will have to verify that when I go up to the museum on Monday.

There were a few challenges with this image. First, I wanted to find a photo that was aesthetically pleasing as well as historical. There are a ton of photos at the archives, but not all of them have a strong composition and things like that. Also, I wanted a photo where there were similarities as well as differences in the scene. Another challenge was photographing the scene itself. Picking the right location was hard, because the farther away you are from the building, the more compressed the scene is (I’m not sure if that makes any sense). For example, if I was right next to the buildings on the right, they would appear much larger, and the school would look a lot smaller in comparison.

I believe I picked pretty close to the location of the first photographer. Which in itself is a strange yet amazing feeling. There was a photographer in that same position looking at the same scene (well, I didn’t have a fire), documenting that physical location almost 100 years ago. I’m sure the photographer had no idea I would be examining his or her photo then combining it with a photo of my own. It’s strange. In 100 years when I’m gone will some photographer be doing the same as I am? Or will they take my combination of photos and add their own, making it a three-exposure combination? That would be awesome if they did.

I plan on continuing this project with different scenes. If you have any ideas for a name for the project, let me know!

NOTE: Historical photos copyright the World Museum of Mining

A few differences in the building: Today the building has a flat roof rather than its old sloped one. Also, the building currently only has windows in the middle section of the west side of the building, where as it used to have windows on the left, middle and right sections.

3 thoughts on “Mckinley School – Then and Now”

  1. Wow!! I went to school there.
    Never knew that it was ever on fire.
    If you ever get an opportunity you should go inside the old school as there is marble floors ect.

  2. What a great idea! I love the effect. I went to McKinley School waaayyyy back when. I still love the building and the memories it brings back. The composite photo shocked me so much I actually had to read! LOL Wonderful!!

  3. I love this old picture of McKinley School. I, too, went to school there (grades 1-6) and was saddened to see it close. Great photo!!

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