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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The "LDub's Polaroids of Lancaster's History: Part I" Story

My altered Polaroid of F&M's Old Main.

It was an ordinary day.  Just got a call from Wayne, the owner of Strawberry & Co. in downtown Lancaster.  He needed a collage of my altered Polaroid photos that featured the four scenes of Franklin & Marshall College that I have.  Seems that parent's day is this weekend and students are bringing their parents into the city to see the historic buildings.  Also stopping in his store and finding out that I have photos of the college.  
Oil painting of Marshall College in Mercersburg, PA
 I took the photos in the early 1990s and have been selling them regularly.  My Franklin & Marshall photos feature four of the main buildings on campus.  The college was created with a merger of Franklin College which was chartered on June 6, 1787 in Lancaster, PA and Marshall College which was opened in 1836 in Mercersburg, PA.  Marshall College was named for the great Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall who had died the previous year.  
This is a postcard showing Old Main
on the campus of F&M. Old Main looks
to sit alone in this shot. 
 Marshall College had gained national recognition, but by the late 1840s had lost most of its financial backing.  Franklin College was named for Benjamin Franklin who donated money to start the institution.  It's first trustees included five signers of the Declaration of Independence, two members of the Constitutional Convention and seven officers of the Revolutionary War.  The school first opened on July 16, 1787 with courses taught in both English and German.  It was also America's first coeducational institution, but that policy was later abandoned and it would take 182 years before women were once again permitted to enroll in the school.   Two years after the school opened, it too ran into financial difficulty so the Board of Trustees established an academy to aid the ailing college.  
This is my recent photograph which shows Old Main in the
center, Goethean Hall on the left and Diagnothian Hall on the right.
 For over 30 years Franklin College and Franklin Academy managed to just stay afloat.  It wasn't until 1849 that the two colleges began to explore the possibility of merging their two colleges.  Finally on June 7, 1853, Franklin & Marshall College was formally dedicated at Lancaster's Fulton Hall.  
The Liberal Arts building stands to the right of the the photo above.
The two statues are of Benjamin Franklin (right) and John Marshall.
 James Buchanan, who four years later would become President of the United States, became the first president of Franklin & Marshall College.  Franklin and Marshall Academy still operated on campus until 1943.  
Shadek-Fackenthal Library stands to the left of Old Main photo.
 On May 16, 1856 the distinctive tall-towered structure known as "Old Main", with the Gothic Revival architecture was dedicated.  It sat along College Avenue in Lancaster, PA.  Today the trio of buildings known as "Goethean Hall" on the left, "Old Main" in the center, and Diagnothian Hall" on the right, stand as majestic as ever.  
This is The Protest Tree.  The white ash was
used as a vehicle of expression for any issue
from school food to the Vietnam War.  It was
first used in the 1960s.
 The two halls were named after philosophers.  All three were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.  I decided to take another trip to take some photos to see if the college still looked as it did when I originally took my Polaroids.  The college has a beautiful campus as you can see by my current photographs.  If you ever get a chance to visit the campus you will be impressed as I was during my photo shoot.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  


  1. The oil painting you pictured. Could you tell me the location of that building. I grew up in Mercersburg Pa. My grandfather taught at Mercersburg for over four decades. It appears to match a building on Constitution Ave. Nothing on campus reminds me of that building. Main sits too far back.

  2. Eli, The oil painting came from a book called "Old Lancaster" which was printed in 1964 and written by Frederic Klein. The painting was done by Charles Carlson. It appears on page 59 of the book. It says under the painting that it is from the collection of Anthony R. Appel. The article says that Franklin College started classes in a small stone building known as the "Brew House". I assume that is what the building is that I pictured. It is not a Polaroid photo that I altered. Hope this helps.