The 35,000-square-foot Colonial Revival house of George Eastman took three years to build and was completed in 1905 at a cost of $300,000. The estate originally included a stable, garage, barn, five greenhouses, and many vegetable and flower gardens on eight and one-half acres. The house has thirty-seven rooms, thirteen baths, and nine fireplaces.
Today the house is home to the International Museum of Photography and Film which resides behind the original home which is kept as a memorial to the man who created modern photography through his company, Kodak.
I have visited other homes and museums of millionaires from the 19th and 20th century before. Unlike the others, George Eastman never married so his home was more like a bachelor pad. As an avid big game hunter, he used lots of animal trophies, furs and even feet of antelopes and elephants for ashtrays and trash cans in his house. His library features a desk topped with a rhinoceros hide.
In 1928, on George Eastman’s second African safari, he returned with an elephant trophy. Research has showed that Eastman’s taxidermists were so impressed with the animal’s great size they made a mold of it to cast a copy for their showroom. In 1989 the mold was used again to create the fiberglass replica now on display in the conservatory during a $1.7 million dollar restoration of the house.
The elephant George Eastman had taken only had one tusk and was described as “rogue”. He had the tusk removed, mounted separately and displayed on the floor below the trophy. Two wooden tusks were made for the mounted head as replacements. The original ivory tusk has long since disappeared and another is on display (seen in the photo above). George Eastman also supported financially the first wildlife film photographers in Africa which brought back the wonders of the continent which was full of mysteries to Western civilization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Floor to ceiling book shelves are found on every wall in Eastman’s library except where the window and fireplace are. This is one of the smaller rooms in the house and George had more shelves built in the living room to be able to hold his entire collection of books.
I planned my visit to the George Eastman House a few weeks ago so it was a coincidence a couple of days before I took these photos Kodak, the company George Eastman founded back in 1888, declared bankruptcy. It is my hope, Kodak can emerge from it and again take its place as one of the most innovative technology companies in the world as it had become when George was at the helm.