Unusual photo features 1908 city scene

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 23, 2003

If several details work out as planned, Dr. Niles R. Shoff will have a large framed photo of the heart of the city as it actually appeared 95 years ago on display as part of Celebrate Albert Lea festivities on Aug. 29-30.

What could be described as a bird’s-eye view of Broadway Avenue and East William Street was photographed in 1908 by F. J. Bandholts of Des Moines, Iowa. He may have been a photographer who made his living traveling from town to town in the Upper Midwest with his camera equipment.

One of the panoramic photos owned by Shoff is 16 inches long by 4 inches high. However, the framed one to be put on display is six feet long and 18 inches high.

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He said this enlarged 180-degree view of the city’s business district will be on display at Shoff Chiropractic, 139 S. Broadway Ave. Then when the building is closed, the photo will be placed in the entryway for public viewing.

Mary Ellen Johnson, co-owner of the nearby Best Buy Paper co., said of the celebration, &uot;The downtown stores will have historical displays. There will be a walking tour and clues for the answers to trivia questions prepared by Grace Haukoos (of The Constant Reader).&uot;

And one of the highlights of this part of Celebrate Albert Lea 2003 could be the large historical photo on display in what’s now known as the Broadway Building.

Shoff, who served as Albert Lea’s mayor from 1959 to 1969, purchased the building in 1965. It still has the name of First National Bank etched just under the roof line in the front and over the stairway entry on the left side. At the present time he and his son, Dr. Christopher N. Shoff, use this building for their chiropractic practices.

It was another son, David Shoff, who recently found the photos now owned by his father.

David said he was showing his mother, who likes antiques, how to use eBay on the Internet.

&uot;I just typed in Albert Lea and up popped this photo, and right in the center is the building owned by my father,&uot; he explained. In the follow-up transaction, he purchased the photo in three different sizes from a person in California.

David Shoff said the photo may have been taken in 1908 by a rolling camera exposure, and not a camera with a wide angle lens.

(Contact Ed Shannon at ed.shannon@albertleatribune.com, or call 379-3434.)