FELLSMERE — Tucked away on the far end of his house is a narrow darkroom crammed with chemicals, equipment and stacks of aging photographs from early Fellsmere.
Korky Korker has a penchant for all things Fellsmere and history and has developed a knack for acquiring hundreds of old photographs to preserve for posterity.
But the photos he receives from descendants of Fellsmere pioneers and others do not always provide information of who is in the photo, or even where or when it was taken. To determine that, Korker looks to the photo’s background.
“It’s really like a detective-type business,” Korker said, “especially when it’s history.” He compares similar photos, looks at tree tops compared to fences or rooflines, and shows photos around to the old timers, seeking clues.
“There’s a lot of history in this town,” Korker said. Fellsmere was the first to let women vote, the first to have sidewalks, the first to have concrete roads, and the first to have electrical lights.
“Fellsmere really, really was ahead of its time,” the history buff said.
When Korker receives aging photos, he takes them into his darkroom, mounts his camera to a rig, takes aim and then snaps an image of the photo. Korker still uses film cameras with an ultra-fine grain film to photograph the old photos and develops the images in a basin of chemicals. He also makes copies of the negatives and new photos so he can keep a set and give another to the Main Library.
“Let’s hope the library doesn’t flood or burn down,” Korker said, explaining that the originals and a set of copies there for safekeeping.
Many of the photos Korker has preserved can be seen hanging on the walls at Marsh’s Landing, which once had been the Fellsmere Estates Building.
Diners have been known to spend more than an hour perusing the images and reading the accompanying descriptions, according to Korker. And, if he happens to be at the restaurant and notices someone scrutinizing the photos, he shares with them the history.
“I think history is the most important thing this country has,” Korker said.