1891 Green Mont Portrait

This photograph is the earliest photo that I have of Green Mont and its occupants. I had it properly digitized in preparation for last summer’s reunion. I want to share it again, in it’s enhanced state.

1891 blog- full image.jpg
Green Mont 1891

Green Mont 1891. (My father WFR Jr. wrote on the back of this who everyone was.) Mary Lee Fleming on the porch with two of her four sons, Robert F. and Alfred W. Fleming and her daughter-in-law, Harriot Jane (Downman) Fleming. On the lawn are her 3 eldest granddaughters; Mary E. L. Fleming, Roberta D. Fleming and Frances Lee Fleming. There is no indication as to who those standing off to the side are.

Notice the bars in the upper floor windows: the earliest child safety devices I have ever come across. The “Kitchen” is visible to the left. You can also see what must have been the original cover over the cellar stairs. The hill top was populated with locust trees when this was taken. Now they are mostly walnuts.

1891 on the porch.jpg
Harriot Jane (Downman) Fleming (then 32), with Alfred Walton Fleming (30) and Mary Lee Fleming (64). Robert Fleming Fleming (33), “Uncle Rob”, sitting on the steps in his familiar “Boater” hat. Richard Bland Lee Fleming (43) is absent. I’ve always wondered if he was in the hammock? It is a rather grim looking bunch. Perhaps it’s really hot and muggy.
1891 MELF.jpg
Mary Elizabeth Lee Fleming (almost 5)
1891 RDF.jpg
Roberta Downman Fleming (2)
1892 FLF.jpg
Frances Lee Fleming (8)
1891 standing in the shadows.jpg
At least 5 more members of the household standing just out of frame.



When Green Mont was remodeled in 1902, almost every aspect of the house that Mary Fleming purchased in 1877 was changed; the porch, roof, siding, all the windows, the front door, the floors, the stairs, the shape and breadth of the house.

Greenmont 1920 .jpg
Green Mont after the 1903 remodel

and today…

facade 2017.jpg
Green Mont 2017


3 thoughts on “1891 Green Mont Portrait

  1. Perhaps RBL Fleming was the photographer for the 1891 family portrait. That place surely has gone through plenty of remodeling over the years and looks very nice in 2017.


  2. Do you have any knowledge of RBLF being interested in photography? They sure seemed to be pretty cutting edge with the rest of their technology. I always assumed he was just in the hammock, but, now that I think of it, all the dour expressions on the subjects…I remember feeling that way when our father was behind the camera.

    This particular print is a very high quality photo and likely done on a larger format camera. The print is dry mounted on cardboard. It’s in Virginia at the moment so I can’t verify it, but I don’t remember there being any studio markings on it.


    1. Continuing exchange with Lee Rust Nov. 3, 2017.

      Lee: I was wondering about the size of the original photo, since it would have to be a contact print of the negative. Snapshot Kodaks of the 1890’s made small square or round photos that were quite fuzzy around the edges, so the photographer who took this picture was likely a serious amateur or a professional with a high quality glass-plate camera and lens. The detail in the enlarged faces is extraordinary.

      I only mentioned RBLF as a suspect because he is conspicuously absent from what is obviously a formal portrait of the entire household. Our own dad went through a serious photography phase with fancy cameras, darkroom and all… so why not his grandfather Fleming?

      The transition from wet-plate to dry-plate emulsions in the late 1870’s made serious amateur photography practical, and by the Gay 90’s it was a stylish high-tech hobby for many well-to-do gentlemen. RBLF might be responsible for most of the early Green Mont photos in your collection, which would explain why he appears in so very few of them. Many of the later photos from 1905-1925 look like they were taken with simpler handheld cameras, so the girls likely took over the family picture taking as their father grew older.

      In this new age of electronic imaging, my advice to one and all is to print out the favorites so that future generations will be able to puzzle over old photographs just like we do.

      Henry: The original print is somewhere in the 4×6″ to 5×7” range

      Lee: The glass plate size known in the late 1800’s as “half-plate” was 6.5″ x 4.75″

      Henry: That’s what it probably is.


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