Page 44 - June2017

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The Naschkes pulled
together to clean their
studio and home, and
reopened for business
within months.
Having gained notoriety
for his photography
of local industries and
wharves, Naschke was
elected president of the
Photographers Association
of Texas in 1904. Galveston hosted their annual convention in September of
that year and took the opportunity to show photographers from around the
nation how far the island had come since the tragic storm.
Also in 1904, Naschke and his wife went to the World’s Fair in St. Louis
and purchased a Model F Ford, which would become the first automobile
on Galveston Island. He was even made an official agent of Ford, but never
sold a car. In the days when gasoline could only be purchased through a
select few kerosene agents, the auto may not have been the most practical
purchase, but it was an eye-catching advertising tool.
He had “Naschke, Photographer” emblazoned on the side of the vehicle in
gold letters, and took great pride in taking his family on drives around town
and along the beach.
Final storm repairs to the home studio were made in 1905. New wallpaper
replaced the old that bore a three-foot high watermark, and the home was
Mr. Naschke refocused his energies from industrial photography to
portraiture during this time frame, and by 1910 Houstonians were making
special trips to the island to visit his studio. Before 1915, when the causeway
was completed, they traveled by train or the interurban to have their images
captured by the popular photographer.
Customers could choose from a variety of attractive backdrops that were
pulled down like a shade to cover the studio’s wooden walls, and Della
would assist in staging the subjects with appealing props.
In an early photo of the studio held at the Galveston Texas History Center,
a sloping second story roof that featured a skylight is easily visible. This
allowed Naschke to utilize natural light in his photos.
The house still stands, but renovations in the intervening years have
removed the skylight and raised that portion of the roof to meet the height
of the rest of the building. The building has since been subdivided into
The couple was active in the community, and social circles became an
important tool in establishing their local clientele.
Naschke was a member of the local rotary, Masons,
and Shriners, as well as acting director of the Shriner
Band in Galveston. He played the Swiss zither (a
string instrument similar to a harp that lays flat on a
table), and his wife played the piano and mouth harp.
Naschke also captured images of local entertainers
such as the Galveston Quartette Society and visiting
Because of his growing customer base from cities
north of the island, Nashcke relocated his studio to La
Marque in 1928. The couple’s new residence at 1411
Oak Street was designed by Bertram especially for
their needs, with the back portion featuring a skylight,
studio and developing rooms.
The roof of the charming home was covered in
hand cut slates from Vermont, and is one of its most
distinctive features even today. The slates arrived
through the port of Galveston, and were originally
thought to be damaged due to the rough appearance
of their hand cut edges. The port master was greatly
relieved when Bertram informed him that they were
intended to look that way.
When one of the windowpanes broke in the home,
a resourceful member of the family washed the
emulsion off an old glass plate negative, and used it as
a replacement. When viewed at just the right angle,
the faint outline of a group of Galveston Masons could
be seen.
Despite its relocation, it still served as a major studio
for Islanders, and photo appointments at the new
Naschke Church Street home
and studio, c. early 1900
Naschke Ford Model F with
his name on side of car
Naschke Church Street studio today
Della Naschke and son Bertram on Galveston beach
Images courtesy of Rosenberg Library
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JUNE 2017