THOMASTON — Kevin Johnson, photo archivist for the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, will be the featured speaker at the Thomaston Historical Society at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, at the Knox Farmhouse & Museum, 80 Knox St. His program, “Greetings from Thomaston: Selections from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company,” will present discussion and slide show images of historical postcard views of Thomaston and surrounding towns. The slide show is sponsored by the Penobscot Marine Museum, and the meeting is free and open to the public.
The Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. was founded in 1909 in Belfast by Rudolph Herman Cassens, a native of Rockland. Cassens’s goal was to photograph small towns and rural areas and to produce “real photo” postcards that would be valued for promoting tourism. The company produced more than 40,000 glass plate negatives of New England and New York between 1909 and 1947. These interesting images take viewers back in time to when the roads were still dirt, horse drawn carriages outnumbered cars, coastlines were undeveloped, and elms lined the streets.
After graduating from college in Philadelphia, Johnson worked as a paralegal for many years. He and his wife moved to Maine in 2003, and he completed a yearlong photography program at the Maine Photographic Workshops. Later, he began working to preserve the negatives of the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. which were owned at that time by MPW. In 2007, a flood in the building where the negatives were housed prompted MPW to donate the collection to the Penobscot Marine Museum. Johnson accompanied the negatives, becoming the photo archivist for all the museum’s photographic collections. Johnson is a photographer and co-owns Åarhus Gallery in Belfast.
The historical society meeting will begin with refreshments at 7 p.m. followed by a brief business meeting at 7:30 p.m., and with Johnson’s presentation at 7:40 p.m.