Harry Shepherd's People's Gallery, 93 East 7th Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota (razed)

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People's Gallery

Address: 93 7th Street E
Neighborhood/s: Downtown, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Ramsey County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Historic Function: Photo studio and gallery

Downtown Saint Paul Ramsey

Harry Shepherd was one of the only 19th century Afro-American photographers to obtain a position of notoriety in Minnesota. Indeed, Shepherd was one of the most accomplished 19th century photographers to work in Minnesota: He owned three galleries in St. Paul, and he won numerous awards for the artistic merit of his photographs.

The story of Harry Shepherd’s career as a photographer began in 1887 when he walked into Mr. Weatherby’s People’s Photographic Gallery and made Weatherby an offer: If Weatherby would make Harry Shepherd a partner in the People’s Gallery, Shepherd would clear all of Weatherby’s debts and accumulate enough revenue to buy the business within sixty days. In one month the debts were paid, and by the end of the second month Shepherd owned the People’s Gallery outright.

Contemporary newspaper accounts of Harry Shepherd’s experience in St. Paul commonly use words like “pluck” to describe the way in which Shepherd succeeded as a photographer. The following excerpt was taken from a paper called the Appeal.

“If any prejudice existed against Mr. Shepherd on account of color, by his perseverance, pluck, and strict attention to business, he has overcome it and demonstrated the fact that a colored man may succeed in any business if he has the necessary amount of perseverance, patience and skill to overcome the obstacles that surmount his path” (1889).

Not all of the attention that Shepherd received was positive. The following excerpt was taken from a paper called the Afro-American Advocate. It is an editorial on an obscure contemporary issue titled “‘Advice’ to Harry Shepherd.”

“This annual $20,000 income should alone cause our subject to blush with shame because of leaving it merciless, and accepting of “the fat” four dollar a day job which he practically plucked from some “poor’ negro of less wealth. If Mr. Shepherd proves to us by employing a score or more of Afro-Americans, and works among the Afro-Americans in person, we will believe in his sincerity” (1900).

The image to the right of this article primarily shows Sebastian’s confection shop, but on the far right of the image one can see a sliver of Harry Shepherd’s People’s Gallery at 93 East 7th. This is the gallery and studio that Shepherd purchased from Mr. Weatherby in 1887. This small gallery was located between Robert and Minnesota on the north side of 7th street. The street is now called 7th place because 7th street was widened and diverted to follow the path of 8th street. The Golden Rule Building now occupies most of the block where the People’s Gallery used to stand.


Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Related Links

Here is some more information about Harry Shepherd
Here are some photos by Shepherd from the MNHS Photo & Art Database


"Advice" to Harry Shepherd. (1900, March 17) Afro-American Advocate
Enterprise and Pluck Win. (1889 July 13). Appeal

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    [http://discussions.mnhs.org/HP/oneonone.cfm snubnosed]