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Farewell Carl Koski

Donna Eschenbrenner

The History Center staff and board are sad to announce the retirement of Carl Koski, our long-time photographer and museum technician. He has been with The History Center since 1970, when we were still known as the DeWitt Historical Society and resided in the Old Courthouse.  

Carl leaves behind signs of his skillful hand throughout The History Center: The engaging Familiar Faces display - Carl reproduced the photographs and built the walls; the beautiful front desk where staff members greet visitors - Carl built that; the large wall panel where we introduce exhibits - you guessed it - Carl built that, too. Exhibits too numerous to name had components of all kinds hand-built or installed by Carl over the decades. He was involved in the production of many of our published books, providing his beautiful photographic work for Images of Rural Life, A Short History of Tompkins County, The Towns of Tompkins County, and Ithaca's Neighborhoods, to name just a few.

And oh, those photographs! Carl's prints of our historic images were sold and hung in exhibits and homes by the thousands over the years. A painstaking artist, Carl mastered the old-fashioned darkroom techniques that brought out the depth and subtlety of 100-year-old glass plate negatives as well as faded and aging prints. His talent transferred easily and seamlessly to digital work when the new technology took over and his reproductions are as beautiful as ever.

I could name many other things to show his tremendous versatility - his care of the Eightsquare Schoolhouse and grounds; his deep and extensive knowledge of all the collections, especially the photographs; his ease with all things technical. More than all of these tremendous contributions was the nature of the person, and the thoughtful, modest and unassuming way he went about his work. One of our previous directors once joked that the most commonly heard words in all THC staff meetings was "thank you, Carl" but then corrected himself and said it was "thanks again, Carl."

A mainstay for so many of us over so many years, leaving a trail of grateful people behind, Carl will be sorely missed. As a gesture of appreciation and regard we will be naming our extensive photo collection The History Center's Carl Koski Photograph Collection. 

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