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Peeking Woman: 1901

Peeking Woman: 1901

New Baltimore, Michigan, circa 1901. "The Firs -- upper hall." Our second look inside the Hatheway residence. Note the cloud of flash powder emanating from behind the stairs. 8x10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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That bottle

might contain Furniture Polish, or given the shape and style of the bottle and the fact that it was used in the period as an over-the-counter disinfectant, insecticide, and home remedy, it could contain Formaldehyde (or Formalin). Using the LoC original with contrast adjustments, my tired old eyes can't make a definitive case for the label reading either "Furni" or "Forma" (both are plausible), and the line below remains a tantalizing mystery. If only that bottle had been turned a few more degrees toward the camera.

[There certainly are similarities to this one. - tterrace]

What's in the bottle?

Wonder what's in that mysterious uncorked jar on the sideboard?

[Close-up, it doesn't look uncorked. I want to say the label reads "Furni[ture Polish] - tterrace]

Flash Sync

I've often wondered how the old timers obtained such well exposed images when the distance from the camera was so great. Seeing the magnesium cloud suggests there were assistants as needed and the photographer opened the lens, gave a signal and they all set off the flash powder then he closed the lens.

Remote Flash?

It looks like there were two flashes for this shot. One attached to the camera and the other behind the staircase. Looking at the shadows caused by the flashes seem to show this.

[You're right, although in this case both the one at the camera and the "remote" would have been guys holding the magnesium flash brackets and setting the powder off manually. - tterrace]

The flag is blocking glare

I think the flag was put there to block the glare from the flash powder ignited behind the stairs.

Flash Powder?

You don't know ectoplasm when you see it? And that's a werewolf-skin rug.

As a little kid.

This place would be a constant source of fear for me as a kid.

1. Going up those stairs was certain death, as that is where the creepy mean guy lived.
2. Someone is bound to reach out and grab you into that first door on the left.
3. The next door down the hall, I'm sure someone is peeking out the crack between the door and the frame.
4. There is definitely a mad man hiding in the corner behind the open door ready to pounce.
5. Inside the far room, I can see the shadow of an axe murderer on the floor. Waiting. Waiting.
6. Down the stairs, worse than going up.

No way I could run fast enough to get to that door at the far end to escape.


But, but, there was no one in that room!!
Cue Twilight Zone music.

Poor dog

Looks like when Rover died they made a rug out of him.

September 6, 1901

There's an American flag draped over the portrait hanging in the hall. I wonder if this photo was taken shortly after the assassination of President McKinley.

The Firs

Supposedly, the house was haunted and this photo is only adding to that. Rumor has it that Mabel Hatheway, daughter of the home's builder Gilbert Hatheway, died at age 20 in the house of mysterious circumstances. It was said that she "fell" down the stairs and broke her neck. There's also a rumor that she was buried in a glass coffin but who knows if that's true.

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