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Combine a portfolio of photographs of Charleston area scenes from the 1890s with the thought of how these same places look today... and the idea of this book was born.

When given the old pictures by my grandparents almost forty years ago, I put them in a trunk and, as time passed, forgot about them. A few years ago, while looking through the trunk’s collection of miscellany I rediscovered them. When the thought occurred of putting them in book form side by side with comparative contemporary photographs, I asked Jim Rhett if he would join in the venture and do the photography. He readily agreed, and the book was underway.

Our objective has been to show the changes of eighty years — both gains and losses — as recorded by these pictures. To do this we followed the path of the 1890s photographer, supplementing photographs only occasionally. This has resulted in such discoveries as the practical extinction of housetop "widow’s walks”. It has also however, resulted in bypassing, reluctantly, a number of notable buildings and scenes which unfortunately the original photographer did not include in his portfolio.

Months were spent in photographing and sometimes rephotographing each of the fifty-eight locations in and around Charleston. Jim used a Linhof Technika 4 x 5 camera with a Schneider lens for most of the current photographs.

The 1890s photographs were probably taken with a glass plate view camera in which the glass plate became the negative. Exposures of from fifteen to thirty seconds were required, so that any movement of the subjects during this time resulted in blurs, as can be noted in some of the old photographs.

Concurrently with the photographic work, data was being collected, friends and family and authorities consulted, facts verified, legends prepared, texts typed, until, presto! One day it all fit together...