In 1880, a lauded Confederate photographer, made famous for his images taken at Fort Sumter, moved his family and his photography studio to Richmond, Virginia. For the next two decades, George Cook (shown here in his studio at 913 East Main Street, circa 1890) would photograph Richmond, and buy up the collections of other photography studios in town. After his death in 1902, his son, Huestis P. Cook, took over the business and continued to amass the most complete single collection of local imagery in existence at the time. Through this collection of over 10,000 negatives, which came to the Valentine in 1954, historians have gained a vivid understanding of life in Richmond during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
A gift for future generations, the photography collection documents the architecture, leisure, business, industry, and agriculture of Richmond. It also shows the lives of Richmonders – rich and poor, black and white – and the community events that brought everyone together, such as the annual public Christmas tree lighting at Twelfth and Broad Streets.
Photos: The Valentine