Thanks to an unlikely chain of events, the city’s history as seen through Sosebee’s lens from the 1940s and 1950s is now on display through the end of April at the Marietta law office of The Manely Firm.
According to family records, Sosebee entered into Navy service as a photographer during World War II. After the war, Sosebee went to work for the Atlanta Police Department and WAGA-TV before opening his own photography studio in Grove Park.
Sosebee captured a broad spectrum of the city’s history, including images of Baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Matthews, legendary actor Anthony Quinn, country music legend Gene Autry, Mayor William B. Hartsfield and famed athlete Larry Osborne.
Following Sosebee’s death in 2008, his children stored the many boxes of their father’s negatives away, never knowing what to do with them. In 2010, during the last days of a yard sale, more than 6,000 negatives were about to be hauled to the dump when a last-minute phone call saved the archive.
Marietta photographer Timothy Cole remembers getting that phone call.
“They said they were getting ready to haul the negatives to the dump and asked me if I had any interest. I didn’t hesitate,” Cole said. “I had met Mr. Sosebee years earlier and was a huge fan. I went straight away to collect the negatives unsure of what I would do with them — beyond save them from the dump.”
Not long after that Cole ran into state Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Marietta), also a friend of Sosebee.
“Thompson immediately recognized the historical value of
this archive and donated personal funds to support the restoration of several significant pieces,” Cole said.
Finding a place to display the work was as easy as contacting local attorneys Michael and Shelia Manely, the husband and wife team that runs The Manely Firm, which specializes in family law, with offices at 211 Roswell St., just off the Square in Marietta.
“We had just moved into new offices and were happy to offer our bare walls for Tim’s display,” said Michael Manely. “The images captured the same essence as our mid-century building. With two floors and a sunlit atrium it was just a beautiful fit.”
Several weeks ago, the exhibit opened to a gathering of Sosebee’s friends and family.
Manely Assistant Business Manager Rebecca Jordan said “Seeing Mr. Sosebee’s family looking at work by their beloved father was a beautiful reminder of how a family’s legacy is never ending. It was a magical night for them, for Mr. Cole, for Sen. Thompson and for The Manely Firm. We are honored to host this display through the end of April.”
At present, more than 20 of Sosebee’s photos are on display at The Manely Firm’s offices on Roswell Street.
Guests are welcome to peruse the exhibit during normal business hours.