Chief information officer snaps landmark photographs

Hali Harden

By: Hali Harden, Staff Reporter

(Photo by Lance Taylor)

 

When Lance Taylor was on vacation with his wife off the coast of Maine in 2000, he made a mistake that would remain with him for years to come: he didn’t take a photo of an old post office.

 

In the years following, Taylor said that mistake planted a seed in his mind, a type of germ that spread and enlightened a hobby he had never thought of before.

 

He wanted to take pictures of historic architecture.

 

Taylor began fulfilling his avocation in 2003 by taking pictures of post offices. He used his weekends off from working as UNF’s Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer to go on what he called post office runs.

 

These runs consisted of a day spent driving to wherever Taylor wanted and taking pictures, he said. Sometimes he made the trips with the company of his wife, as long as there was an antique shop along the way.

 

Eventually Taylor’s love of architectural photography heightened, and he began capturing images of old theaters, houses, places of worship, libraries and schools — all adding to his collection that now accounts for more than 7,000 images.

 

What Taylor was very adamant about, however, was informing people that he is very much an amateur photographer, explaining that most of his pictures were taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera.

 

Taylor presented around 40 pictures of historic Jacksonville landmarks from his collection at the Library Feb. 16.

 

He correlated with Special Collections Librarian Eileen Brady for the presentation. Brady scanned though Taylor’s total collection, which was shot primarily in Florida and parts of Georgia and decided on around 40 images, which will be on display in Special Collections until Feb. 28.

 

Brady said she was delighted to have the opportunity to share Taylor’s work because his images aren’t available through other sources.

 

“For posterity, people will be coming to us and to the collections for copies and to view them,” she said.

(Photo courtesy of OTV)

 

Other library staff members agree that the exhibit will add to the Library.

 

“I think it will give us more historical background to help students who are studying and would like to know a little more about what architecture is like here in Jacksonville,” said Ted Centerwall, who works in acquisitions for the Library.

 

During Taylor’s presentation, guests filled the seats and lined the walls as he unfolded the series of events that led to his craft.

 

Taylor said he started using the National Record of Historic Places as a tool when deciding where to explore for the day. One obstacle he has come across is NRHP’s lack of information or photos accommodating many landmarks. He also said many times, addresses of landmarks aren’t complete.

 

Taylor said he has spent many hours wandering around, but that “the thrill of the hunt” to find old places is why he loves what he does.

 

He said he never leaves home without his primary camera, Bill, and a secondary one — just in case.

 

His picture of the Jacksonville Jewish Center and Job Corps building is thought to be the last existing photo of the landmark. The building, located in the historic district of Springfield, burned down in April 2011. Taylor said it is to the best of his knowledge and research that the photo he took is the only one of the original building.

 

Taylor said phenomenons like that are part of the reason he takes photos and wanted to contribute his pictures to the Library.

 

“Especially as time goes on and these structures, you know, burn down, get torn down, fall apart, whatever, somebody will be able to take a look at that and say: ‘Oh, that’s what that looked like,’” he said. “So, that’s why I do it.”

 

Taylor graduated from UNF in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and again in 1986 with his master’s. Taylor, who’s been working at UNF since 1974, said he will be retiring in a few years and has begun to think about life after retirement.

 

He said, lucky for him, there are around 80,000 landmarks listed on the NRHP.

 

When the Spinnaker asked Taylor if he had ever returned to the coast of Maine to take a picture of the post office that sparked his interest, he answered with a smile.

 

“Someday, someday.”

 

Email Hali Harden at [email protected]