This April we are once again blogging along with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our team of one-place studiers will be sharing some of the treasures to be found for a one-place study, particularly around the theme of Visualisation, our Shared Endeavour for 2016.

Bauhan_Neck_Road_cyanotypesThe same technique used to make blueprints -- those white-line architectural drawings on blue paper -- produced the cyanotype, a kind of photograph tinted Prussian blue. The chemical process is beyond my comprehension, but the details are on Wikipedia, should curiosity strike!

The examples seen here, from Gravesend (now a part of Brooklyn), New York, were shot by the painter Charles William Bauhan (1861-1938) in the summer of 1893, when he rented rooms in the top house. Owned by Homer Wiltse (c. 1819-1898), who is visible just behind the gate, it was a curious marriage of an early Dutch-style farmhouse (the taller, slope-roofed portion) and a "modern" Greek Revival addition from the mid-19th century. It stood until about 1930 at 15-17 Gravesend Neck Road.

The bottom house survives next door at 27 Gravesend Neck Road, but is not so old as he notation suggests; it probably went up early in the 18th century. Despite this, it is popularly known as "Lady Moody's House" after Deborah Moody (c. 1586-1658), the Anabaptist who founded Gravesend in 1645 and on whose property it stands. The building preserves two early mantelpieces on the ground floor, and broad, exposed ceiling beams, one of which carries the carved initials of Thomas Hicks, a 19th-century occupant. It is currently under consideration for landmark designation.

Well, this was supposed to be a post about cyanotypes, and here I am rambling on about exposed beams and Anabaptists! (Those of you who've never veered off on tangents may cast stones from the safety of your glass homes.) Ultimately, the photographic process is of secondary interest when we conduct our one-place studies. Our task is to discover images of our place that evoke how its inhabitants lived, and then to record each picture's proverbial "thousand words" for posterity.

Joseph Ditta

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