HSU Students Enshrine Arcata Photos

Arcata – Historical Arcata photographs restored by two Humboldt State University seniors are on display this month at the Meridian Fine Art Gallery, coinciding with the town’s 150th anniversary year.

Student interns Amber Agent and Niall Keegan, both seniors about to complete their photography degrees, labored seven months to restore 35 images that span a century of Arcata’s past, from the 1850s to the 1950s. They worked under the guidance of Meridian’s curator, Joseph Wilhelm, who operates a fine art printing and digital imaging services business.


Arcata & Mad River Railroad Engine House Circa 1893. Photographer unknown.

Agent and Keegan restored works by an array of photographers, including A.W. Ericson (1848-1927), a native of Sweden who tracked the community’s history from 1880 to the 1920s on glass plate negatives, and Merle Shuster (1921-2006), well-known for his aerial archives of post-World War II Arcata. Ericson settled in Arcata in 1876 and was a retailer in several businesses whose photographs were published widely in his lifetime and documented timberlands and logging technology as well as street scenes. Shuster’s pictures compassed Humboldt Bay’s littorals and post-war lumber industry, as well as towns, farmsteads, country roads and landscapes.

The Humboldt State Library is caretaker of the historic illustrations, which are available to the public online and in the Humboldt Room that houses and preserves Special Collections, including extensive Humboldt County historical records.

Arcata was incorporated in 1858 and will mark its sesquicentennial the weekend of September 12-13-14 with Arts!Alive, a Plaza Festival and a Summer Concert Series, all geared to historical themes.

Meridian Fine Art Gallery will host an opening reception Friday, April 11, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. as part of Arts! Arcata. The exhibit continues throughout the month at 833 Ninth Street, just off the Humboldt State Sculpture Courtyard.

The gallery is open weekdays 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Dial 826-7184 or click on www.meridianfineart.net.