The Visual Legacy of Jack E. Boucher, Architectural Photographer

View of house between two casinos - Atlantic City, NJ. Photo by Jack E. Boucher. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.nj1319/color.361647c

House between two casinos – Atlantic City, NJ. Photo by Jack E. Boucher. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.nj1319/color.361647c

 

In a career spanning forty-six years, Jack E. Boucher traveled through forty-nine states and two U.S. territories to photograph for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and its sister projects, the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). Boucher passed away recently, so I asked colleagues here to share stories and images that reflect his legacy:

“For me this image by Jack Boucher has it all. Its composition eloquently captures the tension inherent in the changing scale and character of American cities, here Atlantic City, New Jersey. The looming presence of new casino construction frames a perfectly lit remnant of the past, its dignity and human qualities preserved forever. A lipstick-colored sports car adds just the right note, signifying both defiance and survival in the face of adversity.”

-C. Ford Peatross, Director, Center for Architecture, Design & Engineering

Shaker South Family Barn, Harvard, Worcester County, MA. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, August 1963. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.ma0571/photos.076984p

“Jack Boucher could entrance with his photos as well as explain.  

As you study this seemingly simple shot of the interior of a Shaker barn, you realize Boucher’s genius for explanation. His shot of this attic reveals multiple sources of light. The entire space takes on a glow, and your eye travels to pick up the various elements that make up the barn. Light falls on the wooden floor. It reveals the presence of the low stone walls. Most of all, it illuminates the massive, hand-hewn rafters and roof trusses. In the end, you find yourself appreciating the way Boucher has captured the barn in bright light, while at the same time you are learning a great deal about Shaker construction.”

-Marilyn Ibach, Reference Specialist – Architecture

Felix & Odile Pratt Valle House, Sainte Genevieve, MO. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, 1986. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.mo0125/photos.099825p

Felix & Odile Pratt Valle House, Sainte Genevieve, MO. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, 1986. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.mo0125/photos.099825p

“I took an architectural photography class taught by Jack Boucher. He described to us the roadtrips he used to take, photographing historic buildings for HABS. In addition to all sorts of supplies, he recommended taking a hatchet on photography expeditions. This was not for protection from suspicious and irate property owners. After setting up a shot, he would use it to hack off a branch, which he recommended holding in the frame to tone down the sky and enhance the composition. Sometimes existing landscaping is insufficient!”

-Greg Marcangelo, Cataloging Specialist

 

U.S. Capitol, Statue of Freedom, Washington, DC. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, May 1993. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.dc1054/photos.361166p

“I always loved the survey of the Statue of Freedom on the Capitol Dome taken in 1993. This was done when the statue was taken down for restoration. I was a kid living in the area at that time and remember that everyone came to the Capitol grounds to see the statue up close.  I especially love how Jack captured the process, especially the shot of the helicopter removing the statue from the top of the dome, to putting the statue in a weird context, on the east front on the Capitol grounds, and the details that no one had seen up close since the Civil War.”

-Mary Christ, Processing Technician

“I remember how these images of Bathhouses in Hot Springs, Arkansas captured for me a bygone era – the beauty of the buildings as well as the experience of a pampering resort that flourished in the first half of the 20th century in Hot Springs – and the reality of how moments in time can be just that – unsustained moments in time. Jack did that so well: capturing what it was that made a particular structure historic and worth documentation. He always did a good job of ‘Here’s the building’ –  but he also was able to document particular angles and details that reflected its essence.”

-Kit Arrington, Digital Library Specialist

Reading Room, Bathhouse Row, Fordyce Bathhouse, Central Avenue, Hot Springs, AR Photo by Jack E. Boucher, June 1984. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.ar0035/color.570633c

Reading Room, Fordyce Bathhouse, Hot Springs, AR. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, June 1984. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.ar0035/color.570633c

Boucher himself said it best in a 1995 interview with The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C.: “My whole philosophy is, I regard the building I’m doing as the most important one in my life, even if it’s a single-seat log outhouse.”  Words to live by—and to be remembered for.

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5 Comments

  1. kiyohisa Tanada
    November 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    All photographs placed here send a big message.
    What do you appeal for?
    Do you want you to watch what?
    They express it definitely.

  2. Bárbara
    November 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    This is wonderful! I love the idea of asking a variety of people to share their memories and a select photo. Great idea! I loved reading the memories as well as seeing the beautiful photos! Thank you LOC and contributors!

  3. Jeffrey Alan Castillo
    November 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    these are neat pictures, i, WHITE – mexican( a name i called myself in my mind-but never told my parent’s’)printed them all out. i, jEFF Castilo, have been to Atlantic, THE GARDEN state of NEWjersey, citY, before, was in the gambling CASINO, playED the [ONE United stateS QuAtEr slot MACHINES]ONE Arm bandit, when i had the old STATE of illinois I{dentification} c{ARD}, with THE hologram one THE one CENTPenny, on the PRIMA facie, Lot Of S.E.N.I.O.R. c|i\t|i|z|e|N|s|, it WAS a LITTLE morose/ DEPRESSING/Remourse-full, but otherwise calm, wih of course the CASINO Control commission, in \every bldg CuBiClE. Sincerely Jeffrey Alan cASTILLO

  4. Paul
    November 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for the post and for sharing those images. The date is missing for the “House between two casinos” photo. Is there a way to retrieve it? I’ve already check the LOC record, but the date is also missing there.

    Thanks agains,

    P.

  5. Stephen Schafer
    January 23, 2013 at 2:21 am

    As a photographer of HABS projects on the west coast, I did not get a chance to meet Jack Boucher, but I viewed his books and read and re-read his text because it resonated with me. He had a passion for the buildings and the photography craft and it shows in his documentations. He’s one of my heroes. Thank you for sharing these images!

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