Dickinson Photo Gallery on Glen Lake, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glen Arbor, Leelanau County Michigan Dickinson Photo Gallery, Glen Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park, Glen Arbor, Leelanau County Michigan  
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Fredrick W. Dickinson
By Grace Dickinson Johnson

Fredrick W. Dickinson

All photos ©Dickinson Photo Gallery

Frederick W. Dickinson was born in1907. His parents were William F. Dickinson, a Rock Island Railroad lawyer, and Nanny Ruth Bray Dickinson, whose ancestors were artists andSteamship Missouri docking at Leland, 1909 mariners from Cornwall, England. Hinsdale, Illinois was his home. In 1912 his grandfather built a summer cottage on Little Glen Lake for Fredís aunt where the family began spending the summers. They rode the steamships that traveled Lake Michigan between Navy Pier, Chicago and the Leelanau Peninsula, with stops at Glen Arbor, Glen Haven and Leland.

 Standing outside the new cottage, as a five year old, Fred watched next Fred and his brother on homemade raf,t Little Glen Lake, Michigandoor with fascination at the skidding of logs down to the lake from the nearby woods. This property next door was later to become the family residence with the building of a summer home in 1923. Fred also used to enjoy watching the operation of the Day Lumber Mill down at the northwest end of Little Glen Lake.

 His love for the area deepened with his growing years as did his viewing of the land through an artistic sensitivity. During his younger years Fred rode the railroads, attended the University of Colorado and climbed the mountains in the nearby parks in Colorado.

The Dickinson family purchased 48 acres across the road from the two cottages in 1938, where Fred built a lovely home of his own design. Fourteen foot ceiling of cedar wood, douglas fir floors and a field stone fire place, and a dark room in the basement provided a haven for Fred. Sleeping Bear formation, "the pinnacle", Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

He often  packed his bed roll and slept atop the "Pinnacle" on the Sleeping Bear Dunes surrounded in the silent beauty of old towering dead cedar trees, the stars, and Lake Michigan, reflecting on his increasingly intimate passion for the dune lands.

 During the same year, the purchase of a view camera marked the beginning of his career in landscape photography.  He wandered all over the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the nearby hills making pictures in sharp detail with his camera.  Love of large cloud formations contributed to the composition and beauty of the pictures.  Numerous photos were made in the manual procedure of hauling heavy equipment, setting up, studying the inverted image on the ground glass, followed by a meter reading. He developed his 5 x 7 negatives and made prints from a cherry wood Elwood enlarger. He used no timer, just instinct for contrast and timing in the developing trays. He then lovingly printed his negatives into black and white landscape pictures, some of which he hand colored with photo oils. He carefully colored his photographs in accordance with the actual color of the subject.

Fred photographed and made a photo collection of the Sleeping Bear Dune Rides, which is Historical photo of 1940's Dune rides, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigannow considered historical. and is very popular with both local residents and tourists visiting the area. The love he deeply felt for this pristine land transcended into lovely landscape pictures that are sought after and collected today.
  (go to Dickinson Dune Ride Photos, click here)

In 1943 Fred drew two large maps with pen and ink. Both were artistic renditions of the area. One of Leelanau County and the other of the Glen Lake area. These maps continue to be sold in the gallery.
(go to: Maps page)

 Also in 1943 he and his wife Julia purchased the Leelanau Enterprise Newspaper which operated out ofEarly fishing boats docked at Fishtown in Leland Michigan Leland, atop a hill across from Fishtown.  During this time when seven Leland families were making a living commercial fishing, Fred made photographs of Fishtown  The wooden fish tugs, fish shanties, with drying nets made a charming setting and Fred produced a cherished collection of photos.
 (go to Fishtown photos- click here) 

The Leelanau Enterprise business was moved to Glen Lake in 1944 and set up in the Studio Press building next to Fredís home. When the paper was sold in 1948, the building became the  Studio Art Galleries where he sold his photographs.  

During 1948 and 1949 Frederick made two trips to Europe, photographing architecture throughout Rome and Athens with his 35 mm camera. Upon his return he lectured, showed slides as well as making enlargements of St Peters Basilica in Rome, and the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Greece. Also upon returning home, Fred and Julia traveled to Estes Park Colorado where Fred took many photographs of Longís Peak and the surrounding mountains. He enlarged and hand colored these views he loved.

In 1950 Frederick also established a postcard business. The scenes included the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Leland Fishtown. He continued to operate his gallery throughout the 1950ís selling prints of outstanding European artists of medieval and modern times, as well as his photographs, maps and post cards.

At a very early age, his daughter, Grace began accompanying her father in his photographic journeys over the dunes as well as assisting in the darkroom. He taught her how to print and hand color photographs. Father and daughter shared the same eye for composition, and the love for the beauty of Leelanau County.

Grace continues her father's work today, adding new landscape scenes to the collection. She operates the gallery in the same building as her father did on the south side of Little Glen Lake
.  Tee shirts, historical photographs, and Fredís maps and post cards are also available in the gallery.

 In 1994 when Fred turned 87 years old, he and Grace took a 75th anniversaryFred Dickinson at the Pinnacle, 75th anniversary walk on Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan walk across the Sleeping Bear Dunes. She made a hand colored photo of him studying his beloved Pinnacle.

All photos ©Dickinson Photo Gallery


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Dickinson Photo Gallery
7611 W. Glenmere Rd.      Empire MI. 49630    231-334-6800   E-Mail us
est. 1938    3,1/2 miles south of Glen Arbor

    site last updated: April, 2006

 ©2006, Dickinson Photo Gallery. Reproduction by any means, physical or electronic,
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