John Lyman Lovell's Daguerreotype Of Main Street


Main Street, 1854, Daguerreotype By John L. Lovell.jpg

Main Street 1854

Daguerreotype By John L. Lovell


John Lyman Lovell, Self Portrait Daguerreotype, 1855, Cutler's Block Studio, Brattleboro, Vermont.JPG

John Lyman Lovell

Self Portrait In Daguerreotype 1855

Silver-Plated Copper Base, 1/6 Plate Size

Taken At His Cutler's Block Studio On Main Street

Courtesy Of Gunter Mueller, VinimagePlus, vinimageplus.com


Brattleboro In 1854.


Assistant Postmaster Wilcox has had in his possession for a few days a very interesting daguerreotype which was made by J. L. Lovell in 1854. Mr. Lovell was then settled in Brattleboro, and is now following the business of a photographer in Amherst, Mass. The picture was taken from the top of the hill on Main street, opposite what is now Thurber's bakery, and looks down the hill toward and beyond the bridge. In the foreground is the Van Doorn building. On the opposite side of the street is the Revere hall, where Cox's store now is, and just below, Judge's building, as it stands today. For tenants it then had E. J. Carpenter and his news room; Sewall Butler, barber, in the same room, and Alfred Simonds & Co., leather and findings. Below the Van Doorn building is the old wooden Woodcock building where Tyler block now is. Just opposite, above the trees, can be seen the cupola of the Gates furniture building, on the site of Emerson & Son's store.


In the street opposite the Van Doorn building stands Warren Briggs's water cart. Umbrellas raised over this, and over the heads of people in a two-horse team standing near show that the picture was taken in a hot summer day. Directly across the bridge, on what is now the Brattleboro House green, stands the two-story Root building, with a large cluster of other buildings above and beyond on Reed hill. The Root building was then occupied by H. Arms & Son, the son being Capt. R. B. Arms now of Burlington. The Woodcock, Clapp, Root, and several other buildings, 14 in all, were burned in the fire of 1857.


The picture is valuable as an authentic view of old-time Brattleboro, and is remarkably good as a specimen of the difficult art of the daguerreotype, its only peculiarity being that its perspective is curiously foreshortened. Mr. Wilcox also has loans of photographic views by Mr. Lovell, made 40 years ago when that art was just beginning to be practiced. They will probably be used in "Picturesque Brattleboro."


Vermont Phoenix, June 29, 1894.


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"A collection of pictures which will be especially interesting to older people may be seen in Chapin & Co.'s window. They represent the Brattleboro of years ago, and were collected by C. W. Wilcox."


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Dwellings In The Daguerreotype


The "Thomas Judge building" has three signs upon it. The first sign is for Edward J. Carpenter's "Windham County Periodical Depot". The second sign announces "A. Simonds & Co.". Alfred Simonds was the leather and shoe findings---buckles---dealer.The third sign has the name "Alexander Capen", the house painter who was the father of James Capen, the telegrapher.


Thomas Judge was a prominent shoemaker in Brattleboro for long years. His well-known house was built in the late eighteenth century by Elihu Hotchkiss, the uncle of Brattleboro's first daguerreotypist, Elihu Hotchkiss Thomas, who sold daguerreotypes that he called "the pencil of nature" as early as 1841.


Anthony Van Doorn, cabinetmaker, built the large brick house at the left. The famous daguerreotype of Main Street taken by George Harper Houghton, looking north, was taken from an upper-floor window in this house.


Nathan Woodcock was the pioneer paper-maker, who lived on the second floor over the grocery conducted by Allen B. Dunklee. Warren Briggs' water cart was painted blue and yellow at one time---perhaps not in 1854. Samuel Pike was the "Gun-Smith" on the west side of the lower Main Street hill north of the Whetstone Brook bridge.


The most prominent sign in Lovell's daguerreotype belongs to Albert Worthington---


A. Worthington.
Harness & Trunk Maker.

The stone building at the extreme right of the picture was built by Ashbel Dickinson, who occupied the street floor for a stove store in 1837. It stood one door south of the old Revere House on the corner of Main and Elliot Streets.


John Birge's "Yellow Building" furniture warehouse has the cupola. This cupola may have been placed originally on the Church on the Common in 1815. It was removed in 1842 when the Church on the Common was dismantled and reconstructed as the Centre Congregational Church on Main Street. Another possibility is that the Church on the Common cupola is now atop the main administration building at the Brattleboro Retreat.


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