Keller Albums still on display at Nappanee library through April 30

Heritage Collection manager Martha Owen stands by a display in the Keller Albums exhibit at the Nappanee Center. The community is welcome to visit the Nappanee Center and explore to learn a bit more about the history of the area and its buildings.
Courtney Dobrzykowski
Staff Writer

Just before the turn of the nineteenth century, John Keller began the task of photographing Nappanee.

Keller established the first photo gallery in Nappanee in 1891, which is now where the Nappanee Public Library stands, on the corner of Main and Walnut streets.

About six years later, he created two albums containing 324 detailed photographs of the city, including homes, businesses and residents.

In the 1970s, the albums were donated to NPL, where they have been kept in storage. But until April 30, they are being displayed conveniently in the Nappanee Center, 302 W. Market St.

“We actually received an LSTA grant — a Library Service and Technology Act grant — from the Indiana State Library, and we were able to purchase a scanner that we could scan these (photos) and digitize them,” explained Martha Owen, manager of the Heritage Collection.

“So hopefully in the near future, people will be able to view online.”

The exhibit houses the two original albums as well as larger prints of Keller’s photos and information about the photographer and his project.

According to one display, “Keller is the only known photographer in Indiana to document his town via photographs.”

Owen said there was an attempt in the 1990s to recreate Keller’s project using the new parameters of the city limits, which are far larger than the area Keller himself was working with.

But, Owen said unfortunately it was never completed.

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