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Photo exhibit highlights Buehman family works

Citizen Staff



The Fox Theatre’s grand opening in 1930, a 1935 Steinfeld’s department store window display and other historic downtown scenes and individuals are featured in a new photography exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society Museum Downtown.

The name Buehman was synonymous with fine photography in Tucson for more than three-quarters of a century. Three generations of the family of a German immigrant recorded images of the people, the events, the places of southern Arizona in the studio and in the field.

Nineteen selections from the more than 250,000 images taken between 1874 and 1951 by Henry, Albert and Remick Buehman are featured at the museum, 140 N. Stone Ave.

The images chosen from the collection were acquired by the Society in 1967. The photographs are of the downtown area, although the Buehmans captured images throughout southern Arizona ranging from studio portraits and fine art images to streetscapes and wilderness scenes, mining and industrial activities, American Indians, cowboys and commercial and advertising photos.

“We had the space to do this, and thought it would be a good opportunity to show some of the Buehmans’ work,” said David Faust, project director for the downtown museum, which shares quarters with Wells Fargo Bank.

The Fox Theatre was the first commercial structure in the city to feature air conditioning and soon became a popular gathering spot for youngsters and adults. It is being rehabilitated as part of the city’s Rio Nuevo downtown revitalization program.

Steinfeld’s was – along with Jacome’s, also featured in the exhibit – one of several long-standing, family-owned downtown businesses that flourished during the first half of the 20th century, only to founder in the 1970s and 1980s and finally die as downtown was outflanked by suburban shopping centers and malls.

The Buehman studio, which moved to several locations downtown over the decades, was founded by Henry Buehman in February 1875. A native of Bremen, Germany, Buehman came to the United States in 1868 at age 17 after a three-year photographic apprenticeship in his native country.

He worked in California and later tried his hand at a series of mining ventures in California, Utah and Nevada – none successful – before coming to Arizona.

Portraiture and three-dimensional stereopticon images were his specialty, though he worked in all areas of photography. An enthusiastic public figure, he served two terms as mayor.

Son Albert Buehman followed in his photographic footsteps, earning national acclaim for his photographic work.

Remick Buehman, one of Albert’s four children, assumed control of the studio when his father retired in 1949. He and a partner operated the studio for two years, after which the younger Buehman sold the business, ending a 77-year Buehman photographic dynasty.

The downtown exhibit runs through April 1. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Admission is free. For more information, call 770-1473.

PHOTO CAPTION: Photo Courtesy of Buehman Studios

A 1935 photo of the Fox Theatre downtown. This image is part of the Buehman photo exhibit on display at 140 N. Stone Ave. The Buehman family owned a photo studio downtown and snapped shots of the people, places and events of southern Arizona for 75 years beginning in 1875.

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