Each week, a new stereoscope card by Charles Adna Tenney will be displayed, creating an archive of the Winona photographer's work.
Charles Adna Tenney was born in 1847 in Hanover, New Hampshire, the second son of Adna and Susan Tenney. His father was a portrait artist and Mr. Tenney apparently inherited his father's artistic genes, for upon moving to Chicago, he learned the photography trade. He moved to Winona in 1871, where he opened a photography studio at 40 East Second Street with a partner, E. Harry Hoard. The Hoard & Tenney Photographic Studio moved to 18 Center Street in 1874, where it earned a lasting reputation as a fine photography studio. In 1879, the Winona Daily Republican dubbed it "one of the foremost photographic establishments in the State." Mr. Tenney married Ada Hoard, his partner's sister, in 1874; they eventually raised five children here in Winona.
Edward S. Elmer purchased Mr. Hoard's interest in 1879 and thus the studio became Elmer & Tenney. The studio was listed in the 1880 Winona City Directory as a Photographic Art Parlor and advertised paintings, engravings, photography and portrait work. The street address for the studio changed to 115 Center Street after a street numbering change in 1885. Mr. Tenney operated the studio alone after 1885 and finally sold the business to Higley & Barr in 1892. That year, the Tenney family moved first to Minneapolis and then to Creston, Ohio. Charles Tenney died in Creston in 1917.
The prints featured are called stereoscope cards and the photographs were taken by Mr. Tenney. The stereoscope was a popular form of entertainment from the 1880s through the 1930s. First patented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838 and later improved by Oliver Wendell Holmes, the stereoscope card may look exactly the same, but each is taken from a slightly different viewpoint, which corresponds to the viewpoint of each eye. When the card is fitted into the stereoscope and viewed through the lens, the two-dimensional pictures merge into a single, three-dimensional image. Mr. Tenney was a talented photographer, evidenced by the quality of the photographs on his stereoscope cards.
According to records, the studio offered around 1,546 cards for sale; the photographs on these cards feature mostly landscapes, buildings and cities of Wisconsin and Minnesota--especially the Winona area. The amount of stereoscope cards created and sold by Mr. Tenney's studio illustrates how popular the stereoscope was in an era before radio and television. Today, the images on the stereoscope cards afford modern-day viewers the rare chance to see what Winona looked like over a hundred years ago.