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Rensselaer Falls photographer will display “This Place Matters” campaign at showcase

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HEUVELTON - “This Place Matters” are three simple words that carry a big message.

For three and a half years, Kyle D. Hartman has been using his knack for photography to spread this message and help preserve St. Lawrence County structures and buildings. His effort is part of a national campaign that was first started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, D.C.

“I consider myself an educator, but I want to share what I’ve learned through photographs, instead of telling people what to care about,” Mr. Hartman said Tuesday.

Mr. Hartman has taken almost 1,000 photos of buildings and structures in the county since he became a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2008. Mr. Hartman plans to display some of those photos among the work of 23 other artists which will be featured at Pickens Hall’s Artisan Showcase from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday at Pickens General Store, 83 State St.

“Kyle was so inspired by this campaign that he took the concept one step further and he has been photographing folks in front of their place that matters with the sign, “This Place Matters,” said Sally W. Hartman, Pickens Hall artist liaison and Mr. Hartman’s wife. “He has photos of all different kinds of places.”

“This Place Matters” is a campaign founded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to encourage people to “protect, enhance, and enjoy the places that matter to them” by standing in front of a place that matters to them and taking a photograph, according to the Trust’s website. While the campaign is no longer active, Mr. Hartman still carries on the tradition for all the business and historic sites he encounters.

“Up here, and especially in this economy, if a historical site, building or item matters to you, you have to stand up for it,” he said. “It’s been great getting positive feedback and hearing what matters to other people.”

Among the places he’s photographed are the DeKalb Junction Museum and the Russell Opera House. He said a personal favorite was the Dewey House, which once stood on Elm Street, Potsdam, and was an inspiration for the Nightmare on Elm Street movie franchise.

“I am proud of that photo. We couldn’t save the building, but we were able to take a picture with our sign of it right before they took the wrecking ball to it,” Mr. Hartman said.

As an artist and collector, Mr. Hartman took on half of the double doors from the Dewey wreckage for his collection. Mr. Hartman said he has collected over 1,700 doors which are for sale at his business, River House Wares & Restoration, 317 Front St., Rensselaer Falls. Some of the doors were restored and are currently in place at businesses including Maxfield’s, Potsdam; Mama Lucia’s, Potsdam; and Blackbird’s Caf, Canton. Next door, at the Ladies First Gallery, owned by Mrs. Hartman, Mr. Hartman’s photographs are currently on display.

Mr. Hartman says most of the photos on display at the Artisan’s Showcase will feature historic sites from the Heuvelton and Ogdensburg area, and he hopes everyone will join in seeing all the artists at the show.

“They’ll be a variety of local artists there. It’s a good opportunity to see the opera house, if you’ve never been. It’s a great community place to join and come together and see some interesting art,” he said.

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