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Overlea Neighborhood Meeting – March, 12th 7pm @ Natural History Society of Maryland

Overlea MD - Kids playing on a sled Overlea MD - Kids playing on a sled

History on Manor Avenue

My father George B. Franz, a long time Overlea resident was an obsessed and crazed photographer. If you heard stories of him hanging out of trees, climbing high rocks, perched on precarious spots, close calls and injuries sustained, you would understand. He would go to no ends to capture the perfect image.

He considered himself a documentarist. He knew the landscapes he captured- urban and rural- were temporary. They would be gone eventually and he wanted to capture them before that happened. George took very few photos of daily life in Overlea. But the few he did take are enjoyed now and then on the Overlea Community Facebook page. He left behind thousands of photographs from all over Baltimore, the state, county and the world. Most of his photographs were never printed because they were not perfect to him.

He would develop every roll into negatives. Then every negative would be examined on a light board. I remember him sitting at the dining room table looking at each illuminated negative with a magnifying glass. The ones he thought were possibly acceptable, he would print in his basement dark room onto small photo paper 2.5 x 3.5 inches. Then they would be examined again. That’s when another cut happened.

Many years ago he gave me a shoe box full of these tiny castoffs. He told me to take what I wanted and return the rest. Each one had the negative taped on the back. I cherish these photos. What he thought of as imperfect, are more than perfect to me.

George and Helen Franz lived in Overlea on Manor Avenue from 1955 until 1996 when they moved to Oak Crest Village where they lived out their lives. My dad took over 20,000 photos in his life-time.

One of his castoffs from 1960 shown here, captures the kids on Manor Ave sleigh riding and having a terrific time!

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