George Flowers Collection

Title

George Flowers Collection

Description

The George Flowers Collection consists of a portion of a massive collection of images (estimated at four million negatives and prints) donated by Boone photographer George Flowers to the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce in 1998. According to his 2008 obituary, Flowers intended that his images would be "available to local people and area businesses." Following a series of water and sewage leaks at their facility on Howard Street in the early 2000s that partially damaged portions of the collection, the then-President of the Chamber made arrangements to move portions of the collection to other locations for safekeeping.

At this point, the collection was essentially split in two. The Chamber donated much of the large studio portraiture section of the collection to Appalachian State University's Belk Library, while the Chamber retained ownership of the remaining materials, most of which were news-related images that the Chamber perceived would be of value to local businesses. This remnant was then shifted to the Watauga County Maintenance Building for temporary safekeeping during the Chamber's move to its present facility. The Chamber's portion of the collection was rediscovered in the summer of 2017, at which point Chamber President David Jackson partnered with Digital Watauga for the entire Chamber portion to be digitized and made available to the public.

George Arthur Flowers, Jr., was born on August 13, 1923, in Catawba County and was the son of George and Mildred Parlier Flowers. He worked in radio for WHKY in Hickory before joining the US Navy in 1942. The Mine Sweeper USS Sentinel, AM-113, on which Flowers served, was sunk during the Invasion of Sicily on July 10, 1943, resulting in serious injuries to Flowers during the Nazi attack on the ship. He was treated first at the New York Naval Hospital, then transferred to the Charleston Naval Hospital. He met his wife, Millie Thompson, who worked in the Admiral's Office, while he was at the Charleston Navy Yard. Flowers received the Purple Heart in recognition of his sacrifice.

Following the marriage of George Flowers and Millie Thompson in September 1944, the couple returned to Hickory, where Flowers continued to work for WHKY and United Press International. He later helped build radio stations in Shelby (WOHS), Waynesville (WHCC), and Culpeper, VA (WCVA). The couple returned to Hickory in 1957, and Flowers purchased the Boone photography shop of the recently deceased Palmer Blair on January 1, 1958. The Flowers Photo Shop continued to operate on West King Street in the Qualls Block until Kelly and Green Photo Company, a regional chain, bought him out, after which he operated Flowers Photography in the rear basement of the same building on West King Street.

Flowers was an active member of the Boone United Methodist Church and helped to establish the Watauga County Rescue Squad in 1962. He also played a critical role in establishing the Appalachian Shrine Club and served as an officer with the Shriners for nearly 25 years. As both a studio photographer and a stringer photographer for local news and numerous wire services between 1957 and 2004, Flowers captured millions of images of Boone, Watauga County, and surrounding communities. Flowers died on January 15, 2008.

When Flowers purchased Palmer Blair's Photo Shop in 1958 following Blair's tragic death in a small plane crash, Blair's widow, Sarah Lynn (Spencer), essentially left behind many of her husband's negatives and prints, promising to return to reclaim them after matters with her husband's estate were resolved. Years later, Flowers and Spencer finally made this exchange, but in the process, portions of Flowers's negatives ended up in the Palmer Blair Collection, and portions of the Blair negatives were retained in the George Flowers Collection. Part of this confusion was addressed in an exchange between the Chamber and Spencer in the early 2000s, but additional items have since been found in each collection that actually belong to the other. The Chamber and the Spencer-Blair Family are working together, with help from Digital Watauga, to appropriately repatriate items to the proper collections.

The George Flowers Collection consists of numerous series that will be appropriately described as they are added to the collection.

Series 1 consists of various films found in the George Flowers Collection and attributed to George Flowers. These films were shot on 8mm (all silent) and 16mm (some silent, some with sound) film between 1960 and 1980. They depict various parades in Ashe County and Asheville during the mid-1960s, various Flowers Family events, the recovery of a body from a fatal truck accident in 1969, disaster response exercises from circa 1970, and the installation of the Howard's Knob Windmill blades in 1979. Flowers also made an experimental film on the decline of the environment in Boone and Watauga County that dates to the early 1970s, although this film is not yet available online.

Creator

George Flowers

Date

1960 to 1980

Contributor

Boone Area Chamber of Commerce

Rights

Digital Watauga holds digital use rights to this collection. All other rights are presently held by the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. No materials from this collection may be reproduced or redistributed without written permission from the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and the Digital Watauga Project.

Format

Moving images, still images, published material, and manuscripts.

Language

English

Type

8mm Film, 16mm Film

Spatial Coverage

North Carolina; Ashe County, NC; Asheville, NC; Boone, NC; Watauga County, NC; West Jefferson, NC

Collection Items

George Flowers Movie Collection #16: Fatal Truck Accident, Blowing Rock, NC, 1960s
Reel #16 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this undated (Circa 1969) 16mm reel contains silent footage of a fatal truck accident that occurred in Blowing Rock, NC, including recovery of the driver's body as a large crowd looks on. This…

George Flowers Movie Collection #15: Boone Disaster Exercise, 1970s, Reel #2
Reel #15 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this undated (Circa 1970) 16mm reel contains silent footage of a disaster preparedness exercise staged by authorities in the Boone vicinity. Watauga Ambulance Service and the Watauga County…

George Flowers Movie Collection #14: Boone Disaster Exercise, 1970s, Reel #1
Reel #14 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this undated (Circa 1970) 16mm reel contains silent footage of a disaster preparedness exercise staged by authorities in the Boone vicinity. Watauga Ambulance Service and the Watauga County…

George Flowers Movie Collection #13: Howard's Knob Windmill, 1979
Reel #13 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this 1979 16mm reel contains B-roll and anchor footage related to the delivery of the Boeing windmill blades for the NASA-Department of Energy windmill erected atop Howard's Knob in Boone, NC,…

George Flowers Movie Collection #12: Howard's Knob Windmill, Blades #2, 1979
Reel #12 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this 1979 16mm reel contains B-roll and interview footage related to the delivery of the Boeing windmill blades for the NASA-Department of Energy windmill erected atop Howard's Knob in Boone,…

George Flowers Movie Collection #11: Howard's Knob Windmill, Blades #1, 1979
Reel #11 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this 1979 16mm reel contains B-roll footage of the delivery of the Boeing windmill blades for the NASA-Department of Energy windmill erected atop Howard's Knob in Boone, NC, and later dedicated…

George Flowers Movie Collection #10: Flowers Family at Beach, Flowers Photo Shop, 1960s
Reel #10 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this undated (1960s) 8mm reel begins with footage of the Flowers family at an unidentified beach. At the 1:07 mark, the footage transitions briefly to glimpses of a significant snowstorm in…

George Flowers Movie Collection #9: Flowers Family and Blue Ridge Parkway, 1960s
Reel #9 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this undated (1960s) 8mm reel begins with footage of George Flowers with posing with extended family. At the 1:52 mark, the footage transitions to scenes that were likely shot along the Blue…

George Flowers Movie Collection #8: Birthday Party Footage, February 17, 1964
Reel #8 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this 8mm reel contains footage of family members gathered for a third birthday party for an otherwise unidentified child named Bobby. It is not clear whether these are extended family members of…

George Flowers Movie Collection #7: Grocery Store Shopping Spree, 1960s
Reel #7 of the films in the George Flowers Collection, this undated (1960s) 8mm reel begins with somewhat dark footage of what appears to be a shopping spree context within an unidentified grocery store. After the 1:44 mark, the footage appears to…
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