Earl Morgan Savage and his camera
The Earl Morgan Savage Photograph Collection was donated to the Special Collections unit of the Lakeland Public Library by one of his relatives. The provenance of this collection is unknown. A note accompanying the donation indicates that the photographs were donated to the library by a niece or nephew.
Savage is something of a mystery in early twentieth century Lakeland. He briefly owned a photography shop in the Vanity Fair Arcade on South Tennessee Avenue in the mid-1920's. By 1926, however, he was gone, apparently to Tampa. He left behind a wonderful collection of photographs of mid-1920's Lakeland at the height of the Florida land boom. His photos are are of a very specific area of the city, the downtown business district. Savage did not wander too far from his shop in the Vanity Fair Arcade, as most of the photographs of Lakeland are of the downtown area immediately adjacent to the Arcade.
The photographs are undated, but there is in the collection a photograph of the Lakeland Terrace Hotel under construction. In addition, some of the photographs of other buildings and street scenes show the Terrace under construction in the background, while others show the completed structure. Since construction on the hotel began in early 1924 and was largely completed by the end of the year, the photographs can be dated to that time period.
Savage and his camera captured the hustle and bustle of Lakeland' business district during boom times, with images of banks, shoppers walking along busy city streets, and the construction of the Terrace Hotel, the city's first high rise building. He also saw through his camera lens the Prohibition Era, as depicted in photographs of the city's police chief destroying confiscated liquor on the city hall steps.
Follow the links below to see glimpses of Earl Morgan Savage's Lakeland of the mid-1920's, a time when prosperity and opportunity seemed limitless and economic depression impossible.