Monday, May 27, 2013


In 1937, J.D. Toloff was approached by noted North Shore home builder Clarence A. Hemphill, who was based in Evanston, Illinois. Hemphill had been told that Architecture and Design magazine was going to do a complete issue about Hemphill homes in suburban Chicagoland and since Hemphill wanted nothing but the best, he asked J.D. Toloff to do the photography for the magazine.  Toloff was delighted.

The result was Archiecture and Design magazine (Volume I, No. 2): 

with "Photographs by J.D. Toloff, F.R.P.S.":

Many deluxe homes from Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka and Kenilworh were featured, with the largest spread devoted to Hemphill's own Kenilworth home.  Toloff's photos of Hemphill's home are the photos I will feature this week:

 Another set of Toloff Masterpieces!

Monday, May 20, 2013


This week's Toloff selection is another photograph of a private individual, but unlike last week's entry, we know who the subject of this week's photo is.  Her name is Martha Elisabeth Pape, and she lived in Evanston, Illinois.  She decided to have a formal photo taken - perhaps for a beau? - so she went for a sitting with the premier photographer of the North Shore, J.D. Toloff.  The person who provided these photos said that they were taken around 1916, so Toloff would have been in his studio at 1623 Orrington Avenue.

Toloff often advertised that he would take photos "On your grounds" but it is obvious that these photos were taken in his studio in front of an artificial backdrop - looks like a tapestry.  So, here are the two photos of Martha by J.D. Toloff:

These photos are just as crisp and beautiful as new, although they were taken almost one hundred years ago.

Martha must have liked the results because she used Toloff again as a photographer - this time for her wedding.  However, we'll save those photos for another time.

Special thanks to Amanda Pape and Bill Parker for allowing me to use the photos of Martha Elisabeth Pape for this article.  Amanda has a fascinating blog about her family that is a must-read for anyone interested in Evanston history.  You can find it at:

Monday, May 13, 2013


This week's Toloff photo is an ebay find, which means that I know nothing about the subject of the photo.  The image is of a man with a mustache and wearing glasses.  The photo itself is 4 1/4" x 6 1/4", printed on  9" x 12 3/4" heavy mat, with a tissue-paper covering.

On the back of the photo is inscribed in pencil: "Happy Birthday Howard, From Clinton"

This photo came with the original J.D. Toloff envelope, containing Toloff's monogram:

That is all I know about this Toloff photo.  Many of the photos I will be featuring on this blog I will have to post with little or no information known about them.  If anyone reading this has any more information about this photo, please contact me, and I will add it to the blog.

Monday, May 6, 2013

SOME CAMPUS VIEWS of Northwestern University by J.D. Toloff

As the fame of Joseph D. Toloff as a photographer grew, the demand for his services increased as well.  There are many institutions of higher education along the North Shore and from the beginning Toloff was asked to do some of the photography for yearbooks from Roycemore School in Evanston all the way up to Barat College in Lake Forest.  But Toloff had the longest relationship with Northwestern University in Evanston.  Through the teens into the twenties Toloff's contributions to the Northwestern yearbook (called "The Syllabus") increased every year.  In 1920 Toloff was named the official photographer for the Evanston departments of Northwestern:

In 1922 the university asked Toloff to provide photos for a section of the yearbook they were calling "Some Campus Views".  They suggested that Toloff stroll around the beautiful and historic Evanston campus of Northwestern and photograph anything he found to be of interest.  The result is sixteen sepia photos which Toloff chose as the ones he found most interesting.  Here they are for your enjoyment: