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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Sun Porch: 1920

Sun Porch: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Mrs. Wilson Compton." One of 10 glass negatives so labeled, none of them actually showing Mrs. Compton. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

"Come play with us, Danny"

It's a lovely porch - but there's something about the dead-straight composition that makes me think of Stanley Kubrick's version of "The Shining." What horrors took place out of the frame?

"None of them actually showing Mrs. Compton."

Au contraire. I think every detail of this sunporch reflects Mrs. Compton.

A theory

Perhaps Mrs. Compton was invisible and chose to conduct the photography session in the nude. My Aunt Phyllis was like that. Every time a camera would come out, she'd disappear.

The charm of the old house

Many of these sun porches survive in older communities, and they are still a delight to behold and (I hope) use.

A true homemaker

Around 1920, former FTC economist Wilson Compton (1890-1967) was the secretary of the National Lumber Manufacturers' Association. His wife, the former Helen Harrington of Bowling Green, Ohio, was a high school teacher who had become a homebuilder in Bowling Green. In the two years before their marriage in 1917, she had constructed fifteen homes. Daughter Catherine (the future Catherine Compton Chase) would arrive in 1921. Wilson Compton would ultimately become president of Washington State University, notable in part because his brothers were also serving as presidents of universities at the same time - at the University of Chicago and M.I.T.

Smoke if you got 'em.

Nice roomy ashtray. What is the box on top for? Matches, maybe a cigar cutter?

That's very pretty

I'd love to relax there with a book and a glass of iced tea. There's nothing really "dated" about it, either, except maybe the ashtray.


A very comfortable mix of materials and textures, from the tiled floor to the stone work to the plaster ceiling. A space that would be very easy to spend a day in. She wasn't required!

A little bit about Mr. Compton's career

Mr. Compton appears to have been involved with the trade association(s) for the lumber industry; he did some time in government in Washington as well (FTC, and so on). There's a nice bio here (and photo of him, but not the missus), where his papers are archived:

The Compton Family

Wilson Compton was a diplomat and president of Washington State University. Brothers Karl and Arthur were physicists; Arthur won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1927 and was prominent in the Manhattan Project. No word on Mrs. Compton's accomplishments other than maintaining a nice sun room.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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