Railroad artist profiled in latest Sayre Quarterly

SAYRE - A pioneering photographer who created the large painting of the Black Diamond Express at the Sayre Historical Society is the subject of the cover story in the Spring issue of the Quarterly.

CAPTION 1: A photograph of the Black Diamond Express near Milan is identical to the painting done by William Rau that is located at the Sayre Historical Society.

William Herman Rau was hired by the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1895 as their official photographer after a career documenting the western United States including Yellowstone. He also worked as the official photographer for the Pennsylvania Railroad in the early 1890's. The story of the Rau painting includes its donation by the sister of Earl Payne of Waverly who was a former railroad accountant and drug store operator, and the restoration of the painting by art conservator Anne O'Connor of New Burlington, Mass.

CAPTION 2: William Rau was the official photographer for the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the late 1890's.

The painting had been stored in the basement of Mr. Payne's daughter, Anna Frances Payne. Mr. Payne started his first drug store in the old Capital Theater in Waverly in 1928, according to his Nov. 11, 1959 obituary. He later purchased the building on the corner of Broad and Waverly streets from John Van Atta in 1937. Through the efforts of past historical society president Bill Ransom and with the help of Dan Leary of Waverly, the painting was donated to the Sayre museum.

Museum volunteer Ken Bracken, who helped package and ship the mammoth work of art to Massachusetts, said the painting had the "dubious distinction" of being the "filthiest painting (the art conservator) had ever worked on." The restoration was worth the effort.

In his long career, Rau was credited with documenting the 19th century industrial era of the United States with artistry and elegance.

A photography exhibit sponsored by Lehigh University in 1989 featured a booklet on the railroad era photographs by Rau and included an essay by Stephen Perloff, a photographer and educator.

"Whether he was photographing a rugged mountain pass, carefully manicured farmland, or the stark architecture of an engine house, Rau invariably seemed to find that one place that yielded marvel, grace, or sublimity," said Perloff.

A second article in the Quarterly covers the 1881 tree planting ceremony in memory of President Garfield sponsored by the Sayre Arbor Association. It includes a copy of the program presented to Lula Bishop for participating in the event. Each child participating received a commemorative medal with Garfield's likeness on one side and Lincoln's on the other. The commemorative program was donated to the Sayre Historical Society by Gwen Lacey.

The center section of the magazine shows the inside of the Assembly Hall at the Sayre Shops with a large group of railroad employees along with two bowling alleys and the Lehigh Shops Orchestra off to the side. The photograph is company-produced and dates from 1927.

A third story highlights a 1930 Robert Packer Hospital School of Nursing yearbook belonging to Monica Nunan. A variety of interesting facts is included in the article as well as illustrations of the School of Nursing building, Dr. Donald Guthrie, hospital superintendent Howard Bishop, nurse directress Nina Smith and Miss Nunan. The 1930 Nucleus yearbook was donated to the historical society by Linda (Spaulding) Fisk.

The final two articles in the Quarterly document the generous donations made to Sayre by the late Mary (Packer) Cummings, sister to Robert Packer and daughter of Asa Packer. The two articles - one from 1908 and the other from 1909 - discuss the donation of land to be used for the Parish House and the formal dedication of the Parish House on November 10, 1909. An aerial photograph of the Robert Packer Hospital from the 1950's includes the Parish House and the Church of the Redeemer. The photograph was donated by Eloise Wilson. A postcard view shows the Parish House and rectory next door.

A flyer advertising the "Grand Opening" of Oak Grove Park is reprinted on the inside back cover. A cover illustration of a flier from the 1930 World's Fair in Chicago promotes the Lehigh Valley Railroad and is included on the back cover.

The Quarterly is a benefit to members of the Sayre Historical Society and is mailed out four times per year. Individual copies are available from Carl's Newsstand in Sayre. The Sayre Historical Society will re-open for the season on Saturday, April 7 with a new exhibit on "The Fight for Liberty: Sayre in World War I," and a musical program of "Folk Songs and Popular Music of World War I." Admission is free.

The Sayre Historical Society is member-supported and a recipient of funds from the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.

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