The Carolyn and Edwin Gledhill Photography Collection
In 1986, Keith Gledhill donated to the AD&A Museum a collection of over 100 photographic materials by his mother and father, Carolyn and Edwin Gledhill. Arriving in 1917, the recently married couple, opened their portrait studio on Chapala Street, one block from the infamous oceanfront Potter Hotel which is now Ambassador Park near Stearns Wharf.
Although industrial growth was progressing rapidly throughout the United States, Santa Barbara remained focused on architecture, civic value and pageantry focusing on the city’s cultural elite. This made it a haven for a diverse and growing community of artists and professionals allowing the Gledhills easy access to subjects for their portraiture business.
Carolyn and Edwin lived an unconditional lifestyle which was deemed scandalous by early 20th Century standards: at the time of their marriage, Edwin was 19 and Carolyn in her 30s. This unorthodox lifestyle mirrored itself in real life while Edwin was often viewed as the primary photographer of the studio, it was really Carolyn who was the professional. Edwin would pose the subjects but it was only when Carolyn found the pose to her liking that she would pull the shutter. This often resulted in empowered appearing women suggesting an early expression of feminism. But Carolyn had an untimely death in the 1930s while Edwin continued with the photography studio preserving in print Santa Barbara’s historic resources.
The Gledhill collection is augmented with additional photographs by Henry Ravell, a colleague and fellow photographer who arrived in Southern California from New York in 1914.