From Your Town to Ours: Pennsylvania Prints from the O'Connor-Yeager Collection Revisited
Early in 1980, the Palmer Museum of Art presented an exhibition of works on paper from the collection of John C. O'Connor ('38) and Ralph M. Yeager ('42). Titled Pennsylvania Prints, the eighty-two lithographs, intaglios, and—somewhat contrarily—watercolors featured in the show were already quite familiar to many of the exhibition’s visitors; they had been selected from among the hundreds of images that hung on the walls of The Tavern on College Avenue in downtown State College, a favorite eating establishment founded by O'Connor and Yeager in 1948 while both were pursuing graduate degrees at Penn State.
Six years later, in 1986, the museum acquired the O'Connor-Yeager collection. A number of the prints have since been included in smaller exhibitions; however, From Your Town to Ours is the first time in more than thirty years that the full scope of the objects originally decorating The Tavern is represented. The majority of the sheets on display here offer panoramic vistas of Pennsylvania cities and villages, immensely popular during the latter half of the nineteenth century, for which the collection is perhaps best known. Soaring and at times stunning depictions of the state's major metropolitan areas, such as Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Reading, and Philadelphia, abound; however, also included are views of smaller towns that, here in central Pennsylvania, are just as well known, places like Altoona and Tyrone, Bellefonte, Clearfield, and Lewisburg. Complementing these bird's-eye spectacles is an array of images documenting the history of Pennsylvania, ranging from the founding of the state by William Penn to the burning of the Cumberland Valley railroad bridge at Harrisburg and the catastrophic Johnstown Flood.
As delightful as the dinners John O'Connor and Ralph Yeager once served their customers at The Tavern, From Your Town to Ours offers museum visitors a veritable feast—a feast for the eyes. As one of the essays in the 1980 exhibition catalogue put it, the collection presents "a pictorial travelogue of communities throughout the Quaker State."
Rights: These images are posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.