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Elmer Harvey Bone Photography Then & Now

P. Marlin April 2015

Elmer Harvey Bone was a photographer in Gainesville, Florida from 1925-1968. He captured many events during this time period including the University of Florida's Homecoming Parades, George Smathers' political campaign, and other historical events such as the destruction of the old Gainesville courthouse and building of the new one. 

Elmer Harvey Bone was born January 15, 1885 in Ohio. He moved to Gainesville, Florida in 1925 where he became a partner in Van Sickel and Bone photo studio. He later opened his own studio under the name "The Quality Studio" (renamed "The Bone Studio" in 1951), where he worked as a photographer until he retired at the age of 83 in 1968.

The Elmer Harvey Bone photo collection is currently housed at the Alachua County Historic Trust: Matheson Museum, Inc. and the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries. The collection contains photographs, negatives, and slides taken in Alachua County and its surrounding areas and also includes images from Wellsburg, West Virginia which were taken early in Bone’s career. Mr. Bone died on March 13, 1976 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Gainesville, Florida.

Elmer Bone at his studio on SW 1st Avenue.

The "Evening News" car is parked at the corner of University Avenue and Main Street in Gainesville, Florida. In the original photo you can see the sign with directions to Palatka, Stark, Baldwin and St. Augustine that would typically be at this busy corner. Two buildings in the background are still there. The original photo was taken in 1929.

The "Evening News" car is parked at the corner of University Avenue and Main Street in Gainesville, Florida. The original photo shows local businesses, the Royal Restaurant and S. Spalding Smith Shoes, which are no longer there (the building is still here). Buck's Tire Palace, also a local business, is advertised on the back of the car. The original photo was taken in 1929.

Who knew? Colonel Sanders was in the 1965 University of Florida Homecoming Parade. Still standing, the Seagle building was originally constructed to serve as a luxury hotel but was left unfinished when the 1920s boom ended. The city and county, with the assistance of Miss Georgia Seagle, completed the building in 1936. Original photo.

A group poses for a Florida Baptist B.S.U. Convention in 1945. The First Baptist Church was organized in 1870 and this building was the congregation's third church. The building is no longer used as a church. Original photo.

Two loud speaker trucks are parked outside George Smather's U.S. Senate campaign headquarters at the corner of NE 1st Street and 1st Avenue. The original photo was taken in the late 1940's.

George Smathers grew up in Magnolia Park, Florida. He had hoped to play college football at the University of Illinois, but his father refused, arguing that if George was to enter politics he needed to attend the University of Florida in order to meet boys from all over Florida. At UF, Smathers was the captain of both the basketball and track teams. He was also captain of the debate team, president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, president of the student body, and campus manager for Claude Pepper's 1938 Senate reelection campaign. Smathers decided to run for the U.S. Senate when then President Harry S. Truman asked him to beat Claude Pepper in the upcoming senate race. Smathers was a close friend to John F. Kennedy, having served as his groomsman at his wedding to Jaqueline Bouvier.

The same George Smathers U.S. Senate campaign trucks parked in front of the Brooking Motor Company on 111 SE 1st Ave. This building is now the Supervisor of Elections office. The original photo was taken in the late 1940s.

A night scene at the Cox Furniture building where Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille is now located at 110 SE 1st Street. It is hard to tell in the original photo, but the same truck with the loud speaker is parked there so it is probably a campaign event for George Smathers. Built in 1887, this building was originally Edwards Opera House.

Downtown Gainesville next to the Bo Didley Plaza, with the current Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille in the distance. I am not sure when the original photo was taken.