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About the Collection


The Baker-Barber Collection chronicles the history of Western North Carolina from 1884 to the
mid 1990s. Much more than just a collection of old photographs, it documents places, events,
and records growth in and around Henderson County, including photographs of urbanization, transportation, recreation, tourism, family life, business, news, events, and many portraits of
area residents.

Through a generous grant from Mr. Jody Barber to the Community Foundation of Henderson County, the Library proudly invites you to witness the pictorial history and evolution of Hendersonville and Western North Carolina through the camera lens.

Arthur Farrington Baker was born and raised in England. As a young man, Baker became the apprentice to the world-renown photographer Alexander Bassano. Bassano was an expert photographic portraiture who produced numerous portraits for Queen Victoria, some of which became the template for famous paintings of the Queen.
Photo of Main Street Hendersonville (early 1900's)

In 1880, Baker and his brothers immigrated to America and began traveling the South as musical instrument sellers and music teachers. Baker was captivated by Western North Carolina and eventually settled in Hendersonville. In 1884, he opened the area's first photography studio, Baker's London Art Gallery. In the beginning, Baker only operated his gallery and studio during
the summer months. However, the popularity of the Hendersonville gallery prompted Baker to open the gallery year round.

The studio featured a large skylight and a gallery of photographs under the shed on the side of the building. The main feature of the gallery was a "stage" with elaborate scenes painted on canvases for backgrounds. The backgrounds were suspended from the ceiling and could be easily changed depending on the customer's needs and wants.


For more information please contact Special Collections Librarian Mark Burdette at mburdette@henderson.lib.nc.us or (828) 697-4725.

Any display, publication, or public use must receive permission from the Baker-Barber Collection; Community Foundation of Henderson County; Henderson County Public Library. Copyright retained by the Baker-Barber Collection as stipulated by United States copyright law.