Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Willard A. Bishop, A Popular Sandusky Photographer

Willard A. Bishop was born in Shelby County, Indiana in 1856. In 1880, he moved to Sandusky, Ohio, where he opened a photographic studio. The 1882 Sandusky City Directory listed his studio at the northeast corner of Water Street and Columbus Avenue, with his residence at the West House hotel. By 1884, Mr. Bishop had a partnership with James H. Veitch in a photography studio in Stone’s block, on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Market Street. Besides taking photographs, Bishop and Veitch also created crayon drawings and ink portraits for their customers. Frank S. Barker was a partner with W.A. Bishop in 1886, and by then the studio had moved to 725 Washington Row, which is now in the 200 block of West Washington Row.  By 1888, W.A. Bishop was the sole proprietor of the studio, which can be seen in the picture below, taken in the first decade of the 1900s. Mr. Bishop remained in this location until 1941.

On the back of a cabinet card, Bishop advertised as a “photographic artist,” whose studio was all on the ground floor.

Bishop took pictures of individuals, families, businesses, and local government offices. This 1908 picture shows Sandusky’s downtown after a sleet storm.

Here is a composite picture of the Sandusky High School graduates of 1911:

In 1908 Mr. Bishop gave the history room at the Sandusky Library three frames containing 149 pictures of business and professional men of Sandusky whose portraits he had taken prior to this time. These portraits are now in the collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. 

More than just a photographer, Mr. Bishop was active in many local community activities. In 1903, he was in the cast of “The New Dominion”, a play which was performed at the Nielsen Theater. He can be seen here with fellow cast member Annette Fitch Brewer.

In 1917 Willard A. Bishop was the chairman of the building committee of the Good Samaritan Hospital. He is the second individual on the left in the picture of the ground breaking for the new hospital building on Van Buren Street which was built in 1918-1919.

Late in 1941, Willard A. Bishop’s health began to fail. He passed away on January 31, 1942. A lengthy obituary for Mr. Bishop is found in the 1942 Obituary Notebook at the Sandusky Library. It read in part, “Few men were better known or highly respected in Sandusky than Mr. Bishop…his camera recorded the history of Sandusky in pictures in the thousands of negatives on file in his studio here.”  The article pointed out that Bishop’s pictures told the story of the surrender of the horse to the automobile, and portrayed the transformation of the hoop-circled American girl to the modern athletic person of the 1940s. Funeral services for Willard A. Bishop were held at the Keller Funeral Home, and graveside services at Oakland Cemetery were held under the auspices of Erie Commandery, Knights Templar. Mrs. Bishop, the former Mary Mathews, had predeceased her husband in 1925.


neptune said...

Are there records of the pictures the Willard Bishop took of just normal people? I have a picture which he took of an ancestor, but it is not labeled. I would love to figure out who it is!

Sandusky Library Archives Research Center said...

As far as we can tell, the business records for the Bishop studio are not available, and probably no longer exist, unfortunately.