Patterson House CDV

Here’s an anonymous CDV, labeled on the back “View of Patterson’s House, from the N. Yd” I take that to mean North Yard. It must have been an industrialists home, built on the grounds of the factory.

Patterson House CDV
Patterson House CDV
Closeup, Patterson House
Closeup, Patterson House

This is only the second architectural CDV I’ve found. I did some cleanup on the scan of the close-up to make it easier to view. If anyone has any idea where this is/was, I would greatly appreciate feedback. The cdv was purchased in south-west Virginia, near Staunton and Harrisonburg. This is perhaps the poorest condition CDV I own, as it has separated into its various components – the albumen print has separated from the card backing, which has separated into two separate, very thin and delicate layers. This is actually interesting because it gives you an insight into how these were assembled, and the various weights and qualities of the paper components. This is also the first CDV I have that the glass plate negative shows a crack in the print (note the lower left corner of the image). I’ve seen plenty of other larger wet collodion images shot on glass plate that show cracks, perhaps the most infamous one being Alexander Gardner’s last portrait of Abraham Lincoln where the plate cracked right through his head. But I’ve never seen a CDV sized image with a cracked plate. Either it just didn’t happen all that often, or the plates that did crack were re-shot and discarded, or both. In any case, this must have been a very important image to someone to have survived the damaged plate.


Patterson House was the home of one of the first commandants of the US Navy Yard in Washington DC. So N. Yd. stands for Navy Yard. This would also place the image in the 1860s, perhaps inter-war or possibly pre-war. Given the location, it is quite possible this image came from either the Brady or Gardner studios, or perhaps even Timothy O’Sullivan. It is impossible to say as there is no identifying imprint on the recto, and the original verso layer of the card is missing. Further research is merited. Because there is no imprint on the front, I would suspect Gardner over Brady, as Gardner did not print his name on the front of his CDVs, and he had a strong relationship with the US Military (he was the one called to photograph the Lincoln conspirators after their capture and incarceration aboard US Navy ironclads anchored at the Navy Yard and the subsequent execution, held a scant few blocks away on what is now the grounds of Fort McNair). So I may well have another Gardner image!

6 thoughts on “Patterson House CDV”

    1. Vern-

      I take it from your link that this house is/was on the grounds of the Washington DC Navy Yard. Do you know if the house still stands? I no longer have the USMC contacts I once had and so I can’t easily get on the Navy Yard property to see for myself.

  1. Hi:

    I dont know if it still stands but I seem to remember it being on a list of Benjamin Henry Latrobe(?) designed buildings so a look at the National Register might turn up something. Good luck!

    Vern K

  2. Hi:

    Does the caption of the CDV actually read Capn Patterson or am I wishfully thinking?

    Captain Pattersons tenure of command was from 3/1/1836 to 8/25/1839 the date of his death in the house pictured.

    Im wondering if this could be a copy of a very early dag of the site?

    1. Yes, the caption definitely reads Capt Pattersons house, from the N. Yd. It doesn’t look like a dag copy. That wouldn’t explain the crack in the plate – if the original were a dag and the plate cracked, they’d have no problem shooting a new plate.

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