Frederick W. Dickinson was born in1907.
His parents were William F. Dickinson, a Rock Island Railroad lawyer, and
Nanny Ruth Bray Dickinson, whose ancestors were artists and
mariners from Cornwall, England. Hinsdale, Illinois was his home. In
1912 his grandfather built a summer cottage on Little Glen Lake for Fredís
aunt where the family began spending the summers. They rode the steamships
that traveled Lake Michigan between Navy Pier, Chicago and the Leelanau
Peninsula, with stops at Glen Arbor, Glen Haven and Leland.
outside the new cottage, as a five year old, Fred watched next
with fascination at the skidding of logs down to the lake from the nearby woods. This property next door was later
to become the family residence with the building of a summer home in 1923.
Fred also used to enjoy watching the operation of the Day Lumber Mill down at the
northwest end of Little
His love for the area deepened with his
growing years as did his viewing of the land through an artistic sensitivity.
During his younger years Fred rode the railroads, attended the University of
Colorado and climbed the mountains in the nearby parks in Colorado.
The Dickinson family purchased 48 acres
across the road from the two cottages in 1938, where Fred built a lovely
home of his own design. Fourteen foot ceiling of cedar wood, douglas fir
floors and a field stone fire place, and a dark room in the basement
provided a haven for Fred.
He often packed his bed roll and slept atop the "Pinnacle" on the
Sleeping Bear Dunes surrounded in the silent
beauty of old towering dead cedar trees, the stars, and Lake Michigan,
reflecting on his increasingly intimate passion for the dune lands.
During the same year, the purchase of a
view camera marked the beginning of his career in landscape photography.
He wandered all over the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the nearby hills making
pictures in sharp detail with his camera. Love of large cloud
formations contributed to the composition and beauty of the pictures.
Numerous photos were made in the manual procedure of hauling heavy
equipment, setting up, studying the inverted image on the ground glass,
followed by a meter reading. He developed his 5 x 7 negatives and made
prints from a cherry wood Elwood enlarger. He used no timer, just instinct for
contrast and timing in the developing trays. He then lovingly printed his
negatives into black and white landscape pictures, some of which he hand
colored with photo oils. He carefully colored his photographs in accordance with the
actual color of the subject.
Fred photographed and made a photo
collection of the Sleeping Bear Dune Rides, which is
considered historical. and is very popular with both local residents and
tourists visiting the area. The love he deeply
felt for this pristine land transcended into lovely landscape
pictures that are sought after and collected today.
(go to Dickinson Dune Ride Photos, click here)
In 1943 Fred drew two large maps with pen and
ink. Both were artistic renditions of the area. One of Leelanau County and
the other of the Glen Lake area. These maps continue to be sold in the
(go to: Maps page)
Also in 1943 he and his wife Julia
purchased the Leelanau Enterprise Newspaper which operated out of
Leland, atop a hill across from Fishtown. During this time when
seven Leland families were making a living commercial fishing, Fred made photographs of
Fishtown The wooden fish tugs, fish shanties, with drying nets made
a charming setting and Fred produced a cherished collection of photos.
(go to Fishtown photos- click here)
The Leelanau Enterprise business was
moved to Glen Lake in 1944 and set up in the Studio Press building next to Fredís
home. When the paper was sold in 1948, the building became the
Studio Art Galleries where he sold his photographs.
During 1948 and 1949 Frederick made two
trips to Europe, photographing architecture throughout Rome and Athens
with his 35 mm camera. Upon his return he lectured, showed slides as well
as making enlargements of St Peters Basilica in Rome, and the Parthenon
atop the Acropolis in Greece. Also upon returning home, Fred and Julia
traveled to Estes Park Colorado where Fred took many photographs of Longís
Peak and the surrounding mountains. He enlarged and hand colored these
views he loved.
In 1950 Frederick also established a
postcard business. The scenes included the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Leland
Fishtown. He continued to operate his gallery throughout the 1950ís
selling prints of outstanding European artists of medieval and modern
times, as well as his photographs, maps and post cards.
At a very early age, his daughter, Grace
began accompanying her father in his photographic journeys over the dunes
as well as assisting in the darkroom. He taught her how to print and hand
color photographs. Father and daughter shared the same eye for
composition, and the love for the beauty of Leelanau County.
Grace continues her father's work today, adding new landscape scenes to
the collection. She operates the gallery in the same building as her
father did on the south side of Little Glen Lake.
Tee shirts, historical photographs, and Fredís maps and post cards are
also available in the gallery.
when Fred turned 87 years old, he and Grace took a 75th anniversary
the Sleeping Bear Dunes. She made a
hand colored photo of him studying his beloved Pinnacle.
All photos ©Dickinson