Maplewood History: Gigantic Panoramic Photographs at Missouri History Museum


If you have not seen the outstanding socko boffo exhibition of panoramic photographs at the Missouri History Museum (5700 Lindell Blvd.) get on over there!  Called “Panoramas of the City” it has been up for nearly a year so don’t wait because once it’s over, it’s over.  You’ll never have another chance.

Vintage photographs are a large part of what drew me into this retirement hobby of mine.  I love them. As I’ve mentioned before, I took a couple of semesters of Photoshop at Meramec Community College in order to be able to digitally restore and preserve these images in a proper manner.  Boy, did that work! Today I subscribe to Photoshop so I always have the very latest features. It is impossible to keep up with them all.

After I had retired at the end of 2001, I was a founding member of the Maplewood Historical Society. We were meeting in a building owned by Sunnen that also held the Chamber of Commerce and the Maplewood Community Betterment Foundation (MacBeef). One day Mary Harper Hall of the Harper’s Pharmacy family stopped in and donated some items for our collection. One standout item was a 1930 panoramic photograph of the intersection of Sutton and Maple.  This was the location of the Harper’s Pharmacy and later photography supply business. This photograph is included in the exhibition at MHS.

That photograph blew me away.  It was the first item of any substance that we had for our collection. I was so enamored of it that I made a cherrywood box to store it in.  (Don’t worry it’s not touching the wood anywhere.) It and the box are now in the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.

Not only is it a panoramic photograph but it a 360 degree panoramic photograph.  The same building, a home, can be seen at both ends. I don’t have any way to prove it but I believe the 360 degree photos are much rarer than the 180 degree ones, for example.  There was a photographer working in Maplewood at that time, Tony Deck (I think), was his name. He photographed it for me with his Hasselblad camera and gave me the negative (It, too, is now in the collection of the Maplewood Public Library).  I digitized it and Professor Eric Hoffman of Wash U printed an 8 foot long version of it for our history hikes so it has been preserved in several different ways.

Finally there is one more reason to visit the “Panoramas of the City” exhibition.  It was curated by a Maplewoodian, my neighbor the very talented Adam Kloppe.

PS. I don’t know where the socko boffo in the first sentence came from.  I was just trying to get everyone to read that first paragraph.

As you enter the exhibition the Maplewood photograph will be on your left. Above it is second from the top.
This is just one section of an enormous panoramic photograph of the St. Louis riverfront during the steamboat era. The Old Courthouse and the Old Cathedral can both be seen.
Again this is just one section of a huge panoramic image of the damage wrought by a tornado on Oct. 2, 1927.
This might give you an idea how large some of these images are.
There are some fascinating stories behind these images. I am not going to post them here. You must go see them.
This is a particular favorite of mine. Remember this is just one section of it.
Just one of the very many descriptive panels that accompany these images.
The wood used in these cameras was often cherry.
I saw one of these for sale at the Big Bend antique market a couple of years ago. It looked like it needed a good bit of work so I didn’t pick it up for only 95 bucks.
My good friend and neighbor, Adam Kloppe, who curated this marvelous show. You absolutely must see it!


  1. I enjoyed reading about the photo collection and especially about Harpers Pharmacy. We visited their store often and I purchased my very first camera there, an Argus C3. It gave me many years of service. Mary Harper was my classmate, graduate from MRH in 1954. If I’m not mistaken the doctor that delivered my first 3 children, Dr.Michaelree, was in an office upstairs from Harpers Pharmacy. It’s so great still hearing about Maplewood. It was a great place to grow up.

  2. It’s in the headline – Missouri History Museum. It’s in the north end of Forest Park, south of Lindell and DeBaliviere intersection.

    • Don, there is also a link to their website in the second sentence. Make sure you go. You’ll love it.

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