After more than 40 years, a piece of David City history is coming home.

On Monday, a camera belonging to The Boston Studio was donated to the Butler County Historical Society at a special event held at the Hruska Memorial Public Library. The camera dates back to the early 1900s and weighs more than 100 pounds.

The Boston Studio operated out of David City from 1898-1970. The camera was believed to have been used to take many of the studio’s early portraits. In 1978, it was auctioned off by the studio owners to Kearney resident Dennis Houska, who ran a photography studio of his own.

“I actually bought it to take old-fashion photos, dress up pictures,” Houska said. “We bought about $1,000 worth of costumes, we took about 10 dress up pictures, never sold a one, mostly just our family goofing off. Kept it, mostly because of the history to it.”

One of the Boston Studio portraits taken with the camera was of Houska’s mother, Dorothy Houska, and her twin sister, Doris Ray, while in kindergarten. Houska said his aunt, Victoria Wilson, took them out of school to take the photo and gave it to their mother as a Mother’s Day present in 1924.

With both having passed, Houska decided to donate the camera in their honor on what would have been the twins' 100th birthday.

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The camera will make its way to the county museum at 200 D St. in David City. Jim Reisdorff represented the historical society at the event. He said the museum is in the process renovating the building's heating and cooling, so the camera will be housed at the library in its heritage room in the meantime.

“Given the delicate nature of things, we want to make sure that it has gotten its environmental controlled atmosphere,” Reisdorff said. “We’ll be making a decision in the near future on where we can possibly display it initially. The library is generously offering to let us store it here.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to figure out fairly soon where we can have this exhibit. It just goes hand and hand with the Boston exhibit studio here."

The Boston Studio Project at the library is home to preserving, maintaining and displaying the studio’s collection of negatives. Jeanne Hain represented the project at the event and said the camera was a sight to see.

“We have a Boston Studio Project, which took care of the negatives from Boston Studio. And this is probably the camera that took some of the pictures that we have on our website,” Hain said. “It’s amazing to see a camera that (took) all these negatives that I’ve been working with all these years."

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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