A pervasive stereotype about history is the inherent seriousness of our ancestors. Look at an old painting or photograph and you'll see: unsmiling Victorians glare out at us, seemingly in eternal judgement of our frivolous modern ways. So stiff are many of these people that entire corners of the internet have been dedicated to poring over old images to confirm that the people in them are, in fact, still alive.
In reality, people a hundred or more years ago were just as colorful as today, even if they had different ideas about what made a good family photo. And archives like ours can be a treasure trove of spontaneity. We have been looking through ours to find some of the best. Each week during the museum closure, we will feature a new find.
Among these are a series of photos of one J. Chester Hutchinson. Born in 1883, Chester spent his teenage years playing in the Lexington Drum Corps and doing bike tricks, which have been memorialized in our archives (there are at least four photos of Chester posing on a bicycle). The lack of activity in downtown Lexington at the moment seems surreal, but in 1900 you could actually have a photoshoot in the middle of Massachusetts Avenue and not worry about being run over. The following photograph shows Chester showing off at the corner of Mass Ave and Depot Square (notice the Depot in the background).
-Sarah McDonough, Programs Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.