In the area of Pennsylvania that I grew up the countryside was dotted with small rural towns. Literally there were at least 10 villages, dales and towns within 5 miles of my home. The primary industries in this region of PA, other than farming, consisted of Coal Mining and Steel Making.
If you know your history, then you might imagine, this area was comprised mostly of Company Towns, owned by the Mills and Mines. That meant for the most part houses were simple Stick and Frame construction and the commercial and retail buildings were basic block-n-mortar.
The towns in the rural Mid West seem to stand in stark contrast to this Architecturally and present themselves as warm, folksy, communities with a fairly consistent tendency towards European Influence. A look at the Historic Registry will describe architectural styles like; Queen Anne, Italianate, Art Deco, Greek Revival, Classical Revival, Second Empire, Beaux Arts, Moderne. The point is, these midwest towns have personality.
I find this fascinating and as a Photographer these towns present an abundance of eye candy. Galena Illinois is a quintessential example of the region. I cite this as Galena has gained popularity as a tourist center so there is readily available information and photos to review if you cared to explore this further.
Recently though, I drove through DeKalb Illinois and found it to be a treasure trove of historic and architectural variety on the 3 areas I like to photograph, Industrial, Commercial and Residential . So, I’ve decided to spend the next few months focused on photographing and documenting the bits and pieces of DeKalb that I find most interesting.
I don’t plan to become a historian, nor to I intend to focus on the history of the town or the region. This is already pretty well documented and available through the Joiner History Room at the Sycamore Public Library, the DeKalb Public Library, the Ellwood House and Museum, the Northern Illinois Regional History Center and Northern Illinois University Libraries.
I am going to attempt is to learn the history of the individual buildings that get featured in photographs. Some of it will be easy because there are a number of buildings in the Historic Registry. Some of it might just consist of the date built or original intended use. Who Knows!
The objective is to have some fun and challenge myself to tell a story that might be interesting to others.