Germantown: Photographer Captures The Avenue

Photographer Melvin Chappell standing before the Germantown Historical Society

Photographer Melvin Chappell laughed and smiled as he stood on the steps of the Germantown Historical Society, shaking hands and greeting those who came to see his recent exhibit.

“I love it,” Chappell said. “It’s so wonderful to see all these people coming out to see this today.”

Germantown Avenue is one of the oldest streets in The United States of America. The eight and a half mile stretch of cobblestone street contains some of the most historic moments in the country’s history, blended together with the culture of today’s urban lifestyle. The unification of the past and present of Germantown Avenue is what Chappell attempted to capture through his photography.

Photographer Melvin Chappell standing before the Germantown Historical Society
Photographer Melvin Chappell stood before the Germantown Historical Society before the exhibit of his Germantown Avenue project.

Chappell said that it’s impossible to go through Germantown Avenue and understand where it is today without realizing where it came from, and the transformation of past at present is visible at both ends of the Avenue.

“At the very top of Germantown Avenue, before it becomes Germantown Pike, what you would find there is a stable of horses,” Chappell said. “And that reminds me of how in the old days nothing used to come down this avenue unless it was pulled by a horse. The fact is the avenue is older than the United States itself.”

Chappell captured a photo of a Revolutionary War demonstration marching down Germantown Avenue

“And at the other end, the most southern end Germantown Avenue is I-95. So you go from where you have stables and the way people used to travel to the way it is now and you have people zipping by so fast you don’t even see them. It’s the perfect blending of our history and modern world,” he added.

Fellow photographer Roy Blanchard was among those that attended the exhibit and was impressed with Chappell’s work.

“Having some experience in photography to get an idea of what to do with the image,” Blanchard said. “He’s done a terrific job of the technical aspects of capturing the image.”

“It’s called the decisive moment, he doesn’t set up the shot, he finds something and makes it happen and I think he has done a very good job of that.”

Chappell also was very happy with the outcome of his work and couldn’t contain his excitement.

“It’s dynamite,” Chappell said with a wide smile across his face. “I’m so happy I can’t stop talking about it.”

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– Text, video and image of Chappell by Sam Matthews.