Positively Beautiful

CDV Skaneateles copy

There is something ethereal about this photograph. I don’t know who the woman is, but I have found the photographer.

Born in Erieville, N.Y. in 1860, Frank Lincoln Harris began his career in Syracuse at the age of 15. He worked for traveling photographers, apprenticed with a photographer in Cazenovia, studied artwork and retouching, then went on the road with his own portable studio, going from hamlet to hamlet, before settling in Dryden in 1884. He came to Skaneateles the next year, establishing a studio upstairs from the store of Herbert A. Livingston in “the Weeks block” (the building on Genesee Street built and owned by Forest Weeks; today’s Loft 42).

Harris Grip's Historical Souvenir of Cortland copy

Harris advertised regularly in the Skaneateles Free Press:

“For artistic work that is as fine as can be obtained in a large city, go to F.L. Harris & Co.’s Photograph Rooms.

“New apparatus, first-class material and a good operator now enables us to compete with any city photographers. Remember that we give perfect satisfaction.”

“The F. Lincoln Harris Studio. Portraits in Photography, and in Crayon, Pastel or Oil. Superior work, reasonable prices. A fine line of views constantly on hand. Studio over Livingston’s store.”

“F. Lincoln Harris, the artist, now absent investigating new methods pertaining to his profession, will be found in his studio on and after February 24th, better prepared than ever to furnish high grade portraits.”

And in an advertisement that brings to mind the photo of the woman above, he wrote, “We have rearranged our light and softened it to such an extent that every one is photographed so as to look positively beautiful.”


While in Skaneateles, he did landscape photography as well, selling pictures of the lake and surrounding countryside at his studio.

Harris Cortland Studio copy

In June of 1895, Harris left the village and moved his studio to Cortland, N.Y. The picture above shows his studio there and gives us an idea of what his Skaneateles studio would have looked like. By 1899, Harris had 15,000 portrait negatives on file, and today, more than 100 years later, his portraits still turn up on eBay.

In Skaneateles, Herbert Livingston joined with H.B. Williams and Charles W. Hunt in the firm of Livingston, Williams & Hunt; they sold “dry goods” from 1899 to 1934. From approximately 1905 to 1915, they published postcards which they had printed in Germany from photos they took and developed in their “Lakeside Studio,” perhaps Harris’ former workplace. Their postcards also turn up on eBay, and are in the collection of the Creamery Museum of the Skaneateles Historical Society.

As for F. Lincoln Harris, his health eventually prompted him to give up photography. After the death of his wife in 1917, he took a job as a coffee roaster for F.H. Cobb & Co., wholesale grocers, in Cortland. He died in 1935.

East and West

East Cove Tinted

Two postcards printed in Germany, published by Livingston, Williams & Hunt of Skaneateles. One is marked “1907” in pencil on the back, but the photo above was taken prior to 1901. In the foreground, Joel Thayer’s personal park across Genesee Street from his home.

West Cove Tinted

SCC at the Creamery

Three Weeks

My thanks to everyone who came out to the Creamery this evening, for a brief history of the Skaneateles Country Club, with references to the Elinor Glyn trophy, Eleanor Roosevelt, an English lord, Gene Sarazen, Otto Graham, the slot machines, sailing, golf, chocolate pudding and more. Especially grateful to those who shared their own stories.

The Road to Glen Haven

Glen Haven Drive

“Picturesque Glen Haven on Skaneateles Lake, N.Y.” a Quarto-Chrome postcard, printed in Germany (Leipzig-Berlin-Dresden, take your pick) for the Wallace-Hahn Drug Co. of Skaneateles. We are fortunate to have the caption, as the lake and the Glen Haven hotel are absent from the photo. On the verso, the sender writes from Marietta, N.Y., in April of 1913, touching upon a personal concern and torrential rains:

“What has become of you? You must be very busy; inside of school and outside, perhaps. Do you see? All’s well here, but we came nearly getting washed away. The mill dam next to our house went out the other day. Write.”

Skaneateles Through Time

Sally Julie

My compliments to Julie DiBagio and Sally Holben for their wonderful new book, Skaneateles Through Time. If you have ever wondered how something in Skaneateles “used to look,” or seen a vintage photo and thought, “I wonder what that is now,” you will revel in this collection, 95 pages of vintage and color photographs, past and present. It’s on sale in the gift shop of the Creamery Museum on Hannum Street (just around the corner from the Sherwood Inn) open 1-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The price is $22.95 and worth every penny. A great gift for present and former residents of Skaneateles. I gave it to myself.