|PORTRAIT OF MRS. MENDENHALL.
Berkeley Springs, WV
Painted photograph in the collection of the Museum of the Berkeley Springs
When I saw the roughly treated image of the older woman in a box of stuff at the Museum, I knew it was a painted photograph and immediately thought of Moray. Then I turned it over and saw the writing: John Moray, 1887 of Mrs. Mendenhall. I had my suspicions confirmed by a couple folks who agreed it was a photograph that had been painted. Then, I found the tiny photo in a metal case common to the Victorian era. It was the same woman. The same pose. Must have been one of the “enlargings” Moray mentioned in his newspaper ads of the period.
The Mendenhalls were a prominent and wealthy family in Berkeley Springs with a homeplace in Sir Johns Run. Their brick house on Wilkes St., built in 1884, has been restored and is on the National Register.
Text by Jeanne Mozier
MORAY PRINT - Panorama of Berkeley Springs,WV
Article by Jeanne Mozier submitted to Tri-Counties August 2010
I knew who John Moray was. His famous 1889 panoramic lithograph of Berkeley Springs can be found on local walls, notecards and online. The most recent limited edition was reprinted and sold by the Chamber of Commerce. It may be Berkeley Springs’ most durable piece of art.
In my marathon newspaper reading ( “The News” - 1870 through 1939 on microfilm) I had discovered more about him and his work.
John Moray was an artist, sign painter and photographer who apparently wanted to do his part in spreading the word about Berkeley Springs. He was a photographer when he arrived in 1885 and was first mentioned in "The News" where he advertised himself available for sign painting or picture enlarging.
"The News" reported in September 1887 that Moray was busy taking pictures of prominent places in the town and county.
“Moray, the artist, has begun to canvass for a lithographic view of our picturesque town and has been exhibiting for that purpose a large pencil drawing of the whole town flanked with specially excellent and separate views of our Courthouse, school house, springs &ct. The view of the town was taken from the Observatory giving not only all the details of the place, but stretching far away, ridge beyond ridge over the eastern highlands taking in the major portion of Sleepy Creek Mountain and giving glimpses of the distant live mountains of Pennsylvania and Maryland.
“He has given a good idea of the scenic charms of a goodly portion of the county and this feature makes the picture of special interest to Morgan County citizens. We exceedingly like that part of the title: beautifully situated on Berkeley Springs and Potomac RR. The town and county ought to subscribe a large number of these views. They make a capital advertising medium as well as atttractive ornaments in any household. “
In May, The News reported that Moray’s “very excellent and correct” drawings of Berkeley Springs would be lithographed and sold for $1. By April 1889, he had turned these images into the now legendary Moray Print.
A group of citizens saw the promotional value of Moray’s lithograph and organized a festival in mid-July 1889 to raise funds for buying copies and using them as advertisements for the town. They wrote to the News stating how enjoyable and desireable a place Berkeley Springs was. “This fact has been beautifully and truthfully rendered by the lithographic view just published by Moray. Nothing as thoroughly effective for advertising the town. There ought to be at least 100 such views spread broadcast over the great cities and towns of the nation. Another reason is that the artist has a great expense of time, labor and money into this excellent and thorough piece of work. The man who has shown himself so capable of illustrating the scenic charms of our section should be substantially encouraged.”
Notable in the Moray view of town are the huge tannery complex covering nearly a block with two large smokestacks; the prevous Courthouse on the same lot as today’s; the Berkeley Springs Hotel and the Florence House (Fairfax Hotel); both the Presbyterian and Episcopal churches; and other recognizable structures, some still standing.
Individual buildings are detailed as a top border including the 500- room Berkeley Springs Hotel, Mt Wesley Academy, Pagoda Springhouse. covered baths and Berkeley Springs & Potomac RR Depot. The principal Springhouse shown is the only building still standing today; it is now called the Gentlemen’s Spring House at the north end of Berkeley Springs State Park.
In his later years, Moray became a devotee of James Rumsey and was instrumental in creating and placing the Rumsey millstone monument in the park.
Moray worked with glass negatives. There are several prints from his
glass negatives in the Museum of the Berkeley Springs. One subject
was a sketch of steamboat inventor James Rumsey's 1787 successful boat
trial on the Potomac River near Shepherdstown, WV. Although
not so identified, the sketches were probably Moray's.