Exhibit premieres 50 new photographs at open house

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 31, 2001

NATCHEZ – An open house was held Sunday afternoon at First Presbyterian Church to premiere 50 new photos as part of an exhibit maintained by Dr. Thomas and Joan Gandy.

Thomas Gandy bought tens of thousands of negatives in the 1960s from the widow of Earl Norman, who was the son of photographer Henry Norman.

The 50 photos premiered Sunday are part of that collection; so are the 500 or so photos that have been displayed upstairs at the church for the last seven years. The Gandys have also published four books of the pictures.

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Some of those who filled the reception area and part of the church sanctuary to view the new photos said they most enjoyed seeing the architecture and period dress of the early 1900s.

&uot;My favorite part was seeing people from my family in them,&uot; said Dunbar Flinn. In fact, many of those attending the open house could pick out several relatives or family friends in the pictures.

For someone who has spent thousands of hours reviewing and reproducing the pictures, picking out a favorite photo is difficult.

But Thomas Gandy finally settled on a picture of Natchez ladies gathered for Elizabeth Crutcher’s 90th birthday party in 1922. &uot;I just love these little old ladies,&uot; he said with a grin.

Still, &uot;I think these pictures have an appeal to people in general,&uot; he said, referring to photos that are the works of Henry Gurney and Henry C. Norman.

The Rev. David DeVries, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, called the exhibit and the Gandys’ commitment to keeping it alive &uot;a very gracious gift&uot; to the church and the community.

&uot;It’s such a privilege to have it here,&uot; DeVries said. &uot;It’s a ministry that has opened the church’s doors to visitors and allowed us to practice hospitality.&uot;

And those who came to Sunday’s open house don’t need to worry that the Gandys will run out of photos any time soon.

They gave about 35,000 pictures to Louisiana State University — and about 15,000 others were ruined beyond redemption. But 25,000 negatives still exist that have not yet been placed on display, Thomas Gandy said.