Joshua Murray holds a copy of a DVD he recently completed featuring 370 old photos of South Charleston.
Among Murrays favorite photos in the collection is this one of a sprawling mansion that once stood on Route 41, just north of town. It belonged to descendants of the family who made Ball canning jars. Fire destroyed the home around 1910. The Cline family now lives on the property.
This block of businesses once stood on South Main Street near Mound Street in South Charleston. This photo was taken well before a fire destroyed most of the buildings in 1969.
Its not often someone in their 20s is passionate about the past, but such is the case with Joshua Murray.
The South Charleston native and 2003 Southeastern High School graduate recently made a DVD featuring 370 photographs of his hometown, dating from the 1890s to the 1940s.
Set to old-time music and complete with captions explaining each picture, the DVD is available to the public for purchase. The cost is $18. Copies are for sale at Charleston Pharmacy, Chillicothe Street Pizza, Forget Me Not Florist Shop and Village Country Mini-Mart, all located in South Charleston.
Murrays interest in local history, specifically old images, was sparked about 12 years ago by a homework assignment.
“I was doing a school project on the history of South Charleston but had trouble finding information. I was interested in what the town used to look like, he said.
An uncle introduced Murray to the world of postcard and photo collection, tak-ing him to postcard shows and flea markets in Columbus and Springfield. Murray was instantly hooked. He started building a collection of old South Charleston photos.
“Ive paid up to $100 for a photo…I feel like its worth it though because there are not many of these photos left, he said.
Murrays collection has received two major boosts over the years. The first came about six years ago when resident Jack Slattery donated his entire photo collection to Murray. At the time, Murray was compiling his first DVD of historic images. The combination of Slatterys collection and the fruits of Murrays treasure hunts yielded a DVD of 120 photos.
The next big boost came courtesy of South Charleston resident Lodie Edmiston.
“His dad was a photographer. He took a lot of pictures of South Charleston from the 1920s to the 1940s. Lodie let me scan them for my collection, Murray said.
Those images became part of Murrays new, more comprehensive DVD, which features five categories of pictures—street scenes, businesses, churches, schools and people.
Among Murrays favorite images is a photo showing a block of businesses that stood on South Main Street near Mound Street in front of the current Shoemakers grocery store. Many of the buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1969.
“It shows what could still be here if the fire didnt happen, how something like that can really shape a town and give it a different look, Murray said.
In addition to preserving South Charlestons visual history and making it accessible to others to enjoy in their homes, Murrays goal with his collection is toget the younger generation to appreciate the history.
By that, he means people even younger than he is, specifically school age children. Murray is a first-grade teacher at Miami View in South Charleston. He has shown his DVD to students in his class. Some of his fellow teachers have done the same in their classes. He also pulls photos from his collection for a column,Behind the Scenes of South Charleston, which he posts on the Southeastern Local Schools website at www.sels.us.
“The first (column) was on schools, and the kids were really into it, said Murray, who in the process of collecting photos learned that South Charleston was once home to multiple one-room school houses, including one now occupied by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Williams Street.
Murray looks forward to learning even more about his hometowns yesterdays as a new member of the South Charleston Heritage Commission board of trustees.