One-room schools focus of photo exhibit
|Local historian Rick Munson looks over an old Lee County school photo while preparing an exhibit at The Next Picture Show in Dixon. Sixty old photographs taken from Dana Fellows’ book “Pictorial History of Lee County Schools” will be on display at the lower gallery today through Jan. 3. (Alex T. Paschalemail@example.com)|
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DIXON – For some, all it takes is one look and they fall head over heels.
Photographer Rick Munson, of Dixon, a local history buff also known for organizing events honoring people of yesteryear, was thumbing through “Pictorial History of Lee County Schools,” written by Dana Fellows.
One photo was all it took to make Munson want to share all of the old schoolhouse photos with the community.
“It started with that old schoolmarm,” he said, pointing to a scowling teacher in a class portrait, circa early 1900.
He got Fellows’ permission to bring awareness and new interest to the schools that once were scattered all over Lee County.
Now 60 of the 193 photos depicted in the book have been enlarged and will be on display today through Jan. 3 at The Next Picture Show. It runs in conjunction with the annual “Shades of Gray 6” show.
Fellows, 46, of Dixon, was working at the Lee-Ogle Regional Office of Education in Grand Detour when he discovered some one-room-schoolhouse class pictures.
“It was sad to see these pictures getting stolen, damaged or misplaced over the years,” Fellows said. “I asked if I could take the pictures home and scan them. I made a poster, which is hung at the regional office in Grand Detour, and people kept wanting to buy it.
“I guess that interest in the poster made something in my head say maybe I should just write a book.”
He was excited about Munson’s plan and offered him digital copies of the photos.
“[Munson] is a go-getter,” Fellows added. “And I have to give him credit for having rekindled interest in my book and some of the history of Lee County.”
Munson, who this year organized a V-J Day celebration and the installation and dedication of a memorial to the 34 victims of Dixon’s 1854 cholera epidemic, hopes this show will become a traveling exhibit.
It’s been a real treat finding out how many teachers are still around. There are 15 former teachers living at Heritage Square.”
Opening reception tonight
An opening reception for “Shades of Gray 6” runs from 6 to 8 tonight at The Next Picture Show, 113 W. First St.
Traditionally an exhibit showcasing black-and-white photography, this year the show has been opened to all media.
The photo show of one-room schools of Lee County opens in the lower gallery.
The Next Picture Show is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, or by appointment. Learn more at www.thenextpictureshow.com or 815-285-4924.
About the book
“Pictorial History of Lee County Schools” is available in paperback for $17.50 at www.lulu.com/content/823347 online.
Locally, it can be found at Books on First, 202 W. First St. Call 815-285-2665 for more information.
According to a July 2004 posting by author Dana Fellows at leecoilgen.org, the Lee County Genealogical Society website:
“... this book takes a pictorial look at the Lee County IL schools from the late 1800’s to present day. This book focuses on the photos of the schools but also include some history of many of the schools.
“In 1904, the Lee County Superintendent of Schools, Isaac F. Edwards, hired a photographer to take pictures of all the school districts in Lee County, IL. His plan was to have the photos mounted and put on display at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. After the World’s Fair the pictures were to be brought back to Lee County to be put on display in his office.
“Today these pictures, along with several others, have been preserved and shared in this book.”
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