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Frederick W. Brehm photographs of Clark Building construction

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RITArt-0079

Scope and Contents

Frederick Brehm photographs of Clark Building construction document the process of demolishing the buildings known to RIT students on the downtown campus as "The Practice House" and "Clark Union," through the construction of the George H. Clark building from 1945-1946.

Also included in the album is an historical statement giving some background on the property the Clark building was built on. The original houses on the property were built by Col. Nathaniel Rochester, the city's founder, for his son and daughter. It mentions the dramatic staircase in his daughters house, considered a symbol for progress. One page of the album contains a photograph of the staircase. It also explains how the property sits on "the Rochester canyon" a bed of colorful, sedimentary rocks. Brehm also includes a poem he wrote entitled Progress, and a list of RIT Board of Trustee members.


  • Creation: 1945-1946


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Frederick W. Brehm (d. 1950) was born in Waterloo, NY in 1871 or 1872. Brehm was originally trained as a cabinet worker. In the 1890s he found work at the F. A. Brownell Company, which produced wood camera bodies for the Eastman Kodak Company. However, Brehm is best known for his role in developing the Cirkut Panoramic Camera.

The circuit camera was originally invented by William J. Johnston in Wyoming in 1904, but the design was perfected and readied for mass production by Brehm in 1905. Brehm patented his design on January 17, 1905, establishing himself as a leader in the field of photography. Brehm’s Cirkut Panoramic Camera, so named because “Circuit Camera” was already taken, was manufactured in Rochester, NY from 1904 to 1940. Although the camera was originally produced by the Rochester Panoramic Camera Company, it was later sold by the Folmer & Schwing Division of the Eastman Kodak Company. The camera worked by moving in an arc from left to right and utilized a timed exposure.

In 1917, Brehm joined the Eastman Kodak Company. At the time, the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI) was training individuals to work in a variety of fields, but not in photographic production. With the Eastman Kodak Company being one of Rochester’s largest employers, it made sense that a Rochester-based school would help support the company. In 1930, Brehm was “leant” to RAMI to serve as one of two faculty members in the Department of Photographic Technology, a program started to educate individuals to work in the field of photographic materials and equipment production. The program was designed to be a two year cooperative study program, with the first year of classes being taught by Brehm and the second year being taught by Carroll B. Neblette. The first class of 24 students entered RAMI in September 1930.

Brehm continued to teach at RAMI until July 1944. After retiring, he remained at RAMI (now the Rochester Institute of Technology) as an instructor emeritus and field consultant. Because he was seen as a father-like figure by his students, Brehm was often referred to by his pupils as “Pappy Brehm.” He died in Rochester, NY in 1950.


2 Linear Feet (1 clamshell box)




Frederick Brehm photographs of Clark Building construction contains photographs related to the construction of the Clark Building in 1945. There are two complete copies of the album; one is in a spiral album and the other in a portfolio box.


The photographs in this collection are organized in chronological order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the RIT Archives by an unknown donor.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in March 2014.

Frederick Brehm photographs of Clark Building construction
RIT Art Collection
Jody Sidlauskas
14 March 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA