Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective on exhibit in Wilmington

MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR HOLOCAUST — The costliest fire in Wilmington's history—the Great Fire of Sunday, Feb. 21, 1886, devastated an estimated $1 million in property—was variously estimated last night to have consumed, in flames and smoke, from $10 to $30 millions worth of property. [sic] The fire started at 8:55 A.M. By 10 A.M., when this picture was made from a plane, smoke billowed thousands of feet into the air and could be seen from at least 25 miles away. The ship in the foreground is the Norwegian freighter Max Manus, which was towed from the docks when the fire started. . . . Photo by Morton.

This dramatic photograph of the 1953 Wilmington Terminal Company fire is one of more than eighty photographs by Hugh Morton now on exhibition at the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Ever since the debut in September 2013 of the Hugh Morton retrospective at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone near Grandfather Mountain, it has been a burning desire of mine to have the exhibition on display in Wilmington, North Carolina—Hugh Morton’s hometown.  I am happy to say that the exhibition is now open at the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington though September of next year.  This is the exhibition’s seventh installation in four years, a true testimony to the wide appeal of Hugh Morton’s photography.  Have you seen the exhibition, either in Wilmington or a previous venue?  If so, please let us know in a comment below if you have a favorite photograph in the show—and why!

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