Stan Jorstad, a nationally renowned landscape photographer and St. Charles resident, generously donated 17 photographs of Primrose Farm, a 1930s living history farm, from his private collection to the St Charles Park District in April 2006. The collection of 17 black and white images are on display at the south end of the Pottawatomie Community Center.
First settled in 1835 by early pioneer John Hand, Primrose Farm has had a long history of owners. One of St Charles’ founders, George Minard, bought the farm in the 1840s. His son-in-law, George March, built the house and barn in 1859. Those two buildings form the core of today’s historic farmstead. The March family owned and operated the farm until shortly before World War I when they sold the farm to local real estate developer Chester Bolcum. In 1917, Bolcum registered the name Primrose Farm. A year later, he sold the farm to a Swedish immigrant named Swan Anderson. Anderson and his son, Ernie, spent years updating the aging farm by adding modern amenities including the windmill, silo, concrete milk house and concrete fence posts. Ernie Anderson continued farming until his death in 1985. The property changed hands a few more times until the Park District acquired it in 1994.
Long before anyone thought of turning Ernie Anderson’s old dairy farm into a museum, Stan Jorstad began documenting daily activities there. Whenever Jorstad wanted to try out a new camera or experiment with a new technique, he went to nearby Primrose Farm. For forty years, he caught the gradually changing landscape and farming practices in a beautiful and thought-provoking manner.
Jorstad began his lifelong love-affair with photography when he received a camera as a present for his tenth birthday. That simple gift led to an accomplished career as a designer, commercial photographer and cinematographer. Following a stint in the 10th Mountain Division in World War II, Jorstad went to work for the Container Corporation of America where he eventually served as Director of Photography.
He also worked with such notable photographers as Ansel Adams, Torkel Korling and Eliot Porter. In the 1960s, Jorstad spent four years working with Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler, filming segments for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. His 1997 book, These Rare Lands, contains his photographs of all 54 National Parks and marks a high point in his career. Wagon Wheel
This is the latest in a series of photo exhibits for the long-time St. Charles resident. Fresh from producing exhibits for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service, Jorstad turned his attention to combing his collection for photographs of Primrose Farm Park. He captured the farm in every season with images ranging from still-life and character studies to broad landscapes.