Closing ceremony for photo exhibit highlights Hallaway

Mabel Dean Hallaway was an early photographer in the Northwest Corner.

Provided

Closing ceremony for photo exhibit highlights Hallaway

FALLS VILLAGE — The exhibit “From the Great Falls to the Hilltops: Early 20th Century Photography from the Falls Village-Canaan Historical Society” wrapped up Friday evening, May 3, with a slide show and notes on the research associated with the exhibit.

Garth Kobal led the presentation.

Kobal, using archived items from the Connecticut Western News and The Lakeville Journal, provided details on some of the people featured in the photographs.

The photographs are glass slide and silver nitrate film negatives from the estate of Mabel (Dean) Hallaway (1893-1991) that were donated to the historical society.

Kobal recalled being advised of their existence by the society’s Judy Jacobs, who said with considerable understatement, “I think you’ll find these interesting.”

Mabel was a lifelong photographer, not the easiest or most accessible hobby in the early 20th century when equipment and supplies were expensive.

At around the same time, noted photographer Clarence H. White was running a school of photography in East Canaan and then North Canaan. White also owned the house across the street from the South Canaan Meeting House, then an active Congregational church. Mabel Dean was the organist.

So it seems likely the two knew each other.

Kobal turned up interesting tidbits from the newspaper archives. “Newspapers were the social media of the time,” he said, with items such as noting that Grace Silvernale (featured in one of the photos) and a gentleman friend had attended a showing of “The Foundling” starring Mary Pickford.

Kobal said he wasn’t sure, but he suspected there might have been two Grace Silvernales in the North Canaan/Falls Village area at the time.

After the presentation members of the historical society, plus Dan Karp, who teaches photography at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, answered questions.

Karp talked about how many of the photos were created using a process called contact printing, which did not allow for enlargement.

“The enlarged prints here would have been stunning” to their subjects at the time.

It emerged from the discussion that the historical society has another batch of photos, glass slides from the same era.

About 500, in fact.

“So I guess we have some work to do,” said Kobal.

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