Primary Source Analysis

The Permanence of Granville, Ohio

            Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Granville, Oh io is home to a vast amount of history, this can be seen easily in its parish house. The parish house is home to a simple black and white photo displaying the church from the 1940’s. After seeing this photo, I began to notice many other photos of a similar style around Granville, businesses having photos showing just how long they have stood in the town and I began to come to a conclusion. These photos around the town show the stagnant, unchanging nature of Granville, Ohio.

These photos help represent the town of Granville as a whole because of the history that goes along with them. Granville holds its history in high regard as all throughout the town, not just on Broadway Street, plaques can be found explaining the historical significance of a certain building or statue and when it was built. These plaques, while frequent, are not the focus because those were all placed by historical societies, not by the ordinary civilians of Granville as the pictures were. The fact that these shopkeepers in Granville have kept these outdated photos up in their stores instead of replacing them with new pictures of a higher resolution. Even the outlier shops, the chain businesses will have the same old photos that were in the shops before they moved in because they know that history is crucial to the identity of the town. This fact of how Granvillians care so deeply about the history of their town shows why these photos can be regarded as the heart of Granville.

The black and white photo in Saint Luke’s shows a Saint Luke’s church of nearly 80 years ago. But even with time, the building looks stunningly similar. The church still is clearly painted white with its signature gold colored steeple, and while it can’t be seen for sure that it was gold it can be assumed by the way the sun shines off it in the photo. Even the ornament seemed to be the same at the top of the church, the only visible difference in the grainy photo was the roof shingles which seemed to be in disrepair at the time of the photo being taken. In the soon to be 80 years since the photo was taken, the church has done nothing to change its appearance other than the necessary roof shingles being replaced. Even the buildings immediately next to the church appeared to look the same as they do in the present day. Although this is somewhat ironic as this photo was taken before its neighboring building to the west was built and subsequently burned down. However, this does raise the question why keep that photo up in the church after the opera house was built? The photo could have easily been retaken from the same angle to show the new opera house next to the church. Maybe it was due to the fact that the church did not want their building to seem small next its neighbor, which is entirely possible as the opera house held a similar architectural style to the church other than the fact that its size was far greater. But maybe it was along with the idea that the church felt it had to prove its worth in some way, because it may not be the larger of the two, but it was there first. This then could be another reason in this photo that history matters greatly in the town. Yet another interesting point in this photo of Saint Luke’s is the fact that it is even in black and white at all. The photo was taken in the 1940’s, at this time color film was in production, which brings up the question why would it have been shot in black and white? Perhaps it was due to the fact that the technology at the time was still rather new, and as such the church could not afford to get a camera to shoot a color photograph, or maybe there is a more niche reason. The photo could have been taken in black and white as to not take away from the prominence of the church in the photo. This is because the church is white painted with black shingles, and with the red brick building beside it and the bright green trees in front of it, the color of these would take away from the focus of the photo, the church. However, there is a counter argument to that as assuming the steeple of the church was in fact gold at the time, that could have out shown the red brick and green trees, and therefore still allowing the church to be the center of attention to the photo. So because of this a third theory came to mind, the fact that maybe the photographer chose black and white as an active defiance to change in the town. Color film was a relatively new practice, and Granville wants to keep its mentality of permanence, so because of this the photographer chose to photograph the church in black and white to make it seem older, to make it seem like a piece of history, which of course it is now but it was not at the time of it’s taking.

Moving away from the photo itself, the photos framing is quite interesting. The photos frame keeps with the black and white theme the photo starts. The mat around the photo takes an off-white color whole the thick lightly ornate frame takes a matte black color. These colors were most likely chosen to make the photo itself stand out, with the off whites and blacks in the photo are only more apparent against the other photos on the wall with the help of the mat and frame. Additionally, a pattern that repeats regarding all of the photos on the wall of the church are that the smaller, older black and white photos are given large mats along with a larger frame to make them seem more important, to not get out shown by the larger, newer color photos of the church. This yet again shows how the church values its history, because it could have easily taken down photos and put up new ones as time went on, or kept the old photos in their smaller frames but it is clear that they were moved to new larger frames to show their significance among all the large, colored photos.

These photos can be seen all around town in similar circumstances to the one described at Saint Luke’s church, these old photos show the people of Granville’s love of the past, and life remaining the way it always has been. In the future to continue this research, I’m going to pursue the following two questions: Do Granville’s newspapers around the times of change in the town reflect the resistance to change shown through the pictures? Do the records of the town limits of Granville show a refusal to expand as many other towns and cities around it have done in the past and are still doing now?