An album of circa 1930s photographs of window displays at the former Kleinhans menswear store was unveiled Wednesday at its new home in Kleinhans Music Hall, where an arvhives room will be restored to display it.
A $75,000 grant by Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, honoring the 75th anniversary of the music hall built by Edward and Mary Seaton Kleinhans, will pay for the restoration. Several donors collectively paid $13,000 to buy the photo album during a December auction through Swann Galleries of New York City.
The foundation was bequeathed the estates of the Kleinhans, who made their fortune from the clothing store, and shared a love for music and the arts.
The Kleinhans died within three months of each other in 1934. The music hall bearing their name opened in 1940.
An archives room will be built at the music hall and is expected to open by the fall. Meanwhile, the album will be kept at Buffalo & Erie County Public Library; it won’t be on display.
The more than 220 silver print photos recorded the fashion tableaux that changed with the seasons in the street-level windows of the Brisbane Building on Main Street at Lafayette Square. The store went out of business in 1992, but the photographs, each measuring approximately 7 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches, were mounted on linen and survived in excellent condition.
The photographs are considered examples of “vernacular” photography, “material that falls outside the realm of fine art photos,” the gallery’s director of photographs told The Buffalo News in December. Vernacular photos can be snapshots, commercial pictures or scientific images – photos whose original purpose has now somewhat elevated outside interest in them.