News

Can you spot the difference?

Rick Chandler, facilities coordinator for the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, mounts photos for a “Then and Now” exhibit opening Thursday at the museum. - Julie Busch photo
Rick Chandler, facilities coordinator for the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, mounts photos for a “Then and Now” exhibit opening Thursday at the museum.
— image credit: Julie Busch photo

Sometimes, the changes are raw and physical: buildings tower where once stood trees.

Other times, more subtle cultural and economic shifts are revealed – a school building is modernized, a neighborhood fruit market becomes the sales office for million-dollar condos.

Change, in all its inevitable and sometimes dubious glory, is the subject of “Then and Now,” a new photographic exhibit opening Thursday at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.

“Even if you’re visiting a community you’ve never seen and will never live in, you can still relate to changes in the streets or buildings or neighborhoods,” said curator Lorraine Scott, who crafted the exhibit with help from the Bainbridge Island Photo Club.

“I think it’s just inherently interesting.”

The exhibit includes 21 pairs of images, “Thens” from the museum archives juxtaposed against “Nows” shot earlier this year with brief, contextualizing comments.

Scott began trolling through the museum’s cache of 5,000 images in February, looking for interesting scenes from the island of yore.

A quartet of volunteers – Pat Egaas, Don Cooper, David Warren and Jerry Matthews – then were dispatched to roam the island with those photos, and their own cameras, in hand.

Their charge: to capture a contemporary image from as close as possible to where the original photographer once clicked the shutter.

“That’s not as easy as it sounds,” said Egaas, a long-time museum volunteer. “The things that (Lorraine) selected are very specific. Sometimes we could find some landmarks that were exactly the same, and some of them were totally different. It was kind of a ballpark guess if we were close or not.”

An island resident since 1945, Egaas knows of which she speaks.

“Everybody who’s lived here for longer than a year has observed change,” she said. “It’s slow and steady, and the ones who’ve been here long have seen the most changes. I guess the biggest change, it just has to be houses where no houses used to be.”

Oddly, Egaas found her biggest challenge was recalling exactly where the old IGA supermarket stood on High School Road. It was displaced in the relatively recent past, the 1980s, to make way for the Village shopping center.

“We’ve taken a couple of tries, and I’m still not sure we’re right,” she said.

The oldest photo in the exhibit captures the Captain Farnham House in Port Madison in the 1890s, which still stands today with only minor changes. The latest shows Bill’s Body Shop in 1964, now the site of Madison Avenue Garage.

Some “Then” photos are immediately recognizable because little has changed; the building that today houses Pegasus Coffee House looked much the same circa 1937, when it was a hardware store minus the sheet of vines on the facade.

Others reflect, by virtue of their uses, more subtle shifts in the island’s socio-economic makeup. The old Eagle Harbor Market building (1906) is today’s sales office for the Harbor Square development.

The photos may also remind today’s islanders that thanks to forestry and farming, Bainbridge used to be comparatively barren.

“There’s really more trees around now then there were then,” Scott said. “People rue when something gets clearcut, but give it 50 years and it comes back.”

*************

Changing times

The Bainbridge Island Historical Museum presents a new photographic exhibit, “Then and Now on Bainbridge Island,” with an open house from 5-7 p.m. May 18. See the exhibit and enjoy local wine from the Bainbridge Winery. Information: 842-2773.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 18 edition online now. Browse the archives.