Photographic treasures donated to museum

This 1900 John Green Davis photo of the parish courthouse was used in a set of post cards. The cards were hand colored in Germany from Davis’s black & white images and shipped to Ruston.

By Wesley Harris  

A large collection of photographs and negatives going back to Ruston’s earliest days has been donated to the Lincoln Parish Museum and Historical Society.

The materials include the work of early Ruston photographers Louis Marbury and John Green Davis and later handiwork of Edwin “Red” Woodward and Bob Pfister.

Bob Pfister’s son and daughter-in law, John and Barbara Pfister of Haughton, donated the collection to the museum.

John Pfister said of the donation, “This way, Bob’s work, Woodward’s work, and John Davis’s will always have a home.”

“The collection provides a pictorial history of Ruston,” said newly appointed museum director Rick Godley. “This is a real treasure of local history, and the museum is proud to be entrusted with its care.”

Godley said the photographs and negatives date from the 1890s to the 1980s. “Marbury and Davis captured most of the images we have of early Ruston. Woodward began photographing Ruston after he acquired the Davis collection at an auction in the late 1950s.”

Godley said Pfister came to Ruston as a young U.S. Air Force photographer in 1952 and fell in love with a Louisiana Tech student. He photographed the Tech campus and many north Louisiana sites extensively in the 1950s before the Air Force sent the Pfister family to Arizona. 

“After Bob Pfister’s retirement in 1981, the family returned to Ruston,” Godley said. “When Mr. Woodward died in 1986, he left his studio, including the Marbury and Davis photographs, to Pfister.”

Bob Pfister’s wife Bettie was a talented artist and painted many local scenes.

The Pfisters’ daughters, Barbara and Pamela, published a book of the photographs in 2000. “Images of America: Ruston” includes photographs from Marbury, Davis, Woodward, and Pfister. 

The donated collection includes photographs of homes, schools, street scenes, and businesses as well as individual and family portraits.

“It will take some time to sort the collection and make it available to the public,” Godley said. “Since the museum was closed for nearly two years due to COVID, our priority is getting the house ready for reopening this fall. The closure reduced our incoming revenue, so we are raising funds, making repairs, and cleaning up for a real ‘Renaissance’ of our mission of sharing history.

“Our museum is desperate need of some TLC before we begin hosting the annual Chautauqua series, exhibits, and educational events for our community.

“Once we are back up and running, we would like to digitize much of the collection and make it available online to the public,” Godley said.

“We are so excited to see the museum continue to adapt and it’s great to be part of the second Renaissance of the museum,” Barbara Pfister said. 

The museum is in the Historic Kidd-Davis House at 609 North Vienna Street in Ruston. Tax deductible donations toward the museum’s upkeep can be sent to that address.

Godley can be reached at the museum at 318-251-0018 or at rick@godleyworks.com.


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