Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Burt V. Brooks

The artist Burt Vernon Brooks was one of the outstanding chroniclers of daily life in the Swift River Valley before it was inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Born in Brimfield, Mass., in 1849 and raised in Monson, Brooks moved to Greenwich with his family in the 1870s, where he worked on the family farm. At some unclear point before he turned 40, Brooks became active as an artist, painting local homes and scenery and taking photographs of the landscape, residents, and daily life in the Quabbin region. A prolific photographer, he was, in the words of historian Donald W. Howe, "hardly ever seen without his camera strapped to his back," remaining active for decades. Three years after following his second wife to the west, Brooks died in Los Angeles in 1934. The great majority of the 92 photographs in this collection are 5x7" dry plate glass negatives taken by Brooks in the earliest years of the twentieth century, documenting the houses and people of Greenwich. Brooks' work includes landscapes, houses, and a significant series of images of the Hillside School, but some of his best works are studio portraits, images of people at home or with their carriages, and posed scenes of children at play or at work.

 Atkinson's Hollow, family and house, Prescott, Massachusetts, ca. 1910
Boating on a pond, Greenwich, Massachusetts, ca. 1910
Boy pulling girl in a toy wagon, Greenwich, Massachusetts, ca. 1910
Boys swimming in a pond, Greenwich, Massachusetts, ca. 1910
Checking the mail, Greenwich, Massachusetts, ca. 1910
Source: Digital Commonwealth

1 comment:

  1. The family and house in the Atkinson Hollow picture is that of Lillie S.F. Browne. They lived on the west side of a now-abandoned road which paralleled Cooleyville Road, just to the east, and ran between Fish Hill Road and Barnes Road, leading east from near the Atkinson Tavern.