For more than a century, images of our ancestors and intriguing pieces of Pike County history have remained unidentified. For the first time in nearly 20 years these images will be made available for public viewing.
The Marguerite Weber Art Gallery at the University of Pikeville is currently hosting “The Hobbs Collection,” a series of photographic images from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s that were on display in the Hobbs General Store formerly located on Main Street in Pikeville. Local family names found on identified images from the collection include Adams, Baker, Ratliff, Bowles, Cline, Kendrick, Lucas, May, Osborn and Thornbury.
The collection is unique. Each photograph of unknown community members was placed in the store window in hopes someone would recognize the individuals in the photos. If a passerby recognized someone in the photo their identities were recorded on the back of the image and a new unidentified photo was put on display.
“The Hobbs Collection” is a snapshot of Pike County life. Though many of the individuals in the images have remained unknown for years, these local images contain our families,” said Edna Fugate, reference technician for Allara Library, who currently maintains the Special Collections at the library. “The value of these photographs does not lie in their beauty alone. They have a strong genealogical and historical value as well. We want people to see Pike Countians as we once were and hope there are individuals out there who will recognize the unknown subjects of many of these photographs.”
Hobbs General Store opened in 1922 as J.B. Dick and Company. At that time, Mr. Hobbs was a partner in the business. In 1945, he became the sole owner and changed the name to Hobbs General Store. The store remained in operation in downtown Pikeville until 1990.
“The selected images invite reflection on a past that is the community’s past - which makes it our past,” said Pat Kowalok, professor of art. “Photography suggests an immediate connection with a particular person, a particular place, or a particular event at a very precise moment in time. While more specific information may come out about individual pictures, once the public has seen the exhibit, we can all identify with the events and groupings and experiences caught in the photographs.”
True to its history, the collection will again be on display in hopes someone may identify the photographs that are still a mystery.
“The Hobbs Collection” will be featured at the gallery through Feb. 8. A reception will be held Jan. 23, at 2 p.m. in the Weber Art Gallery located in Record Memorial Building, level two. Gallery hours are Monday from 9 a.m.-1p.m. and 1:30-5:30 p.m.; Tuesday from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Wednesday from 9-10 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and 1:30-5:30 p.m.; Thursday from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; and Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. For more information about the exhibit, contact Fugate at (606) 218-5617, Kowalok at (606) 218-5758 or Petra Carroll, assistant professor of art, at (606) 218-5759.
This collection is on display from the University of Pikeville Allara Library Special Collections.
Caption: A group of bicyclists are shown in one of the unidentified images included in “The Hobbs Collection” currently on display in the University of Pikeville Weber Art Gallery.