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Exhibition Catalogue, 1976
by DEBORAH A. FIGLEY
Between the years 1889 and 1927 Art Trory consistently photographed and collected photographic prints of friends, family and himself. There is a continuous warm, personal atmosphere reflected in all the portraits that can be ascertained as his work. Even in prints where he appears Trory's manner of visualizing permeates the image. This element is evident in one of the two prints chosen for evaluation.
The first print (plate 9) shown here is especially important for it appears to embody the true essence of the man as a photographer. The print is almost assuredly a self-portrait. The uppermost image is a mirror reflection of the man and the photographer. This image is surrounded by formal portraits of family and friends. The setting is a dresser top in the privacy of Trory's own bedroom.
An earlier print (plate 10) shows Art Trory posed behind the counter of his brother Fred's drugstore. Although staged in a public place the print retains an atmosphere of personal belonging. The tone is one of the man at ease in his own world.
Common to both prints is the use of horizontals and verticals to create a sense of intimacy. The conscious attention to design is seen throughout Trory's first thirty-one years of active photography and is particularly evident in prints where he is the subject.
Although these prints were taken approximately ten years apart, both display a warm personal atmosphere and sense of design. Art Trory approaches even his most formal portraits with this intimate quality. These two prints appear to exemplify Trory's sensibilities in his photography and perhaps his view of life.
Kent Opera House
by SUSAN E. HRIVNAK and ANNE ROHRBAUGH
The special care taken by Art Trory in photographing the Opera House suggests more than a slight fascination for the building. His diaries confirm that for many years it was one of his favorite gathering places. His prints of the Opera House show a candid sensitivity and provide a lasting record of this nineteenth century landmark.
Construction of the Opera House and I.O.O.F. Building began on May 20, 1889, at the corner of North Water and Columbus Streets. It was built by R. W. Thomas and 1. D. Tuttle for the Odd Fellows Building Company. The five-story building was about fifty feet tall with walls eighteen inches thick. The theatre which encompassed the first floor extended through the second story because of the vaulted ceiling. The third floor was the I.O.O.F. Hall.11
The interior was quite elaborate and ornate (plate 11). It was furnished with plush seats in the parquet section and mahogany chairs throughout the rest of the main floor and balcony. Over 150 candlepower lamps hung over the center of the parquet.12 Monday, November 4, 1889, was opening night with Harry Lindley appearing in The Castaways.13 attracted a small audience, but a satisfied one.14
Popularity of big road shows had already begun to decline by the time the Opera House opened. The last plaved there about 1900.15 In October 1912, M.E. Hanley from Canton purchased the building and promised high-class vaudeville and moving pictures.16 He allocated a policy of a new act every night, and replaced the piano with a pipe organ.17 Trory photographed the stage set (plate 12) for one of the plays by the Howell-Keith Stock Company during the week of November 25, 1912.18
Several different managers and owners took over the Opera House from early 1913 until it was purchased by its final owner, John Palfi, in 1921. Little information on the period 1910-1940 could be found; contact with Palfi's daughter, Mrs. Louis Ramsey was made through Jean Gilcrest of Kent. Because of the generosity of Mrs. Ramsey, the history, physical description and activities of this important social meeting place during its latter years were reconstructed. This information helped verify the dates for some of Trory's prints.
Palfi completely remodeled the interior in 1928 and installed sound equipment in 1929. New chairs red velvet curtains, brass poles and railings, and carpeting were installed, plus a seal of the State of Ohio above the stage and an 1890 iron railing imported from France.
The Opera House closed in 1936. From 1940 to 1954 the Shine Company rented the building using it as a movie house until 1943. Rent was stopped in 1948; it closed and eventually was boarded up. In 1963, the building had become an eyesore. Considered not worthy of renovation, it was demolished.