Preserved: Saving Hendersonville’s history, one mayoral photo at a time

The Historic Preservation Commission has undertaken the process of reframing the Mayoral portraits located in City Hall. In an attempt to preserve them for future generations, the portraits are being removed, ten at a time, to be rematted and rehung. The Historic Preservation Commission is funding this restoration. (Photos: Mayors Thomas A. Allen, ca. 1873 — the long-beared fellow — and Montraville W. Egerton, who served in 1892)

The project started when it was noticed that some of the photos seemed to be fading and the backing was loose. Upon closer examination, some photos were also showing spots and discoloring. David Osann of Framing Arts Custom Framing examined several of portraits and advised using conservation matting and UV protection glass to stop further deterioration. He also noted the old masking tape and cardboard used to back the portraits were not good for the future preservation as well. So far, ten have been repaired and returned. Mr. Osann picked up another ten this week. The original frames are being reused.

Since the frames and matting are the same, it appears the earlier photos were done at the same time. According to Sadie Smathers Patton in her historic book, The Story of Henderson County, the mayoral portraits were hanging in City Hall by 1947. Mr. Osann has noted these are not original photos but copies, sometimes even photographs of an original photo. In the case of Mayor M.W. Egerton, an oval frame can be seen implying someone took a photo of his picture with it still in the frame.

Ms. Patton notes that the portrait of one mayor is missing. She implies efforts to obtain a photo of Mr. Marcus M. Patton, who served as mayor in 1881, failed.

Prior to the City Hall renovation in 2004-05, the portraits hung in the second floor lobby. After being in storage during the renovation, they were rehung on the third floor. The public is welcome to view the portraits any time City Hall is open.

During this process, the City Planning Department is taking advantage of the photos coming out of the frames making digital copies of each mayor.

For more information on the reframing process, please contact David Osann, Framing Arts Custom Framing, 696-3818. For more information concerning the Historic Preservation Commission, contact Lu Ann Welter, 697-3088.

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