884 slides and approx. 500 electronic images
This collection contains the photographer’s 35mm Ektachrome color slides and digital scans of original prints. The images capture architectural, environmental, commercial, and cultural subjects in Virginia, including private homes, schools, restaurants, hotels, bridges, theaters, barns, churches, cemeteries, courthouses, post offices, fire and railway stations, drug stores, barber shops, banks, and service stations.
Pete Calos (1931-2019), an engineer at Allied Chemical for most of his professional life, made the images between 1977 and 2005 for local and architectural historians. In retirement, Calos began to write and illustrate his own travelogue presentations, with titles such as “Back Roads of Virginia,” “All 100 County Courthouses,” “Virginia Diners,” “Historic Route 1,” “Where Are You in Richmond?,” “Where Are You in Danville?,” and “McDonald’s Symphony.” Though a recreational photographer, Calos proved to have a sharp eye for the transience of the modern, and the foresight and technical ability to capture it, finding beauty in the open girder work of rural bridges and uncanny precision in typical bacon-and-eggs breakfasts. His “Diner Series,” focusing on River City, Tastee 29, Surrey House, and Virginia Diners, and the now-vanished Skull and Bones Restaurant on Virginia Commonwealth University’s medical campus, a haunt of medical students for decades, captures not only the restaurant buildings themselves but the staff, interior décor and fixtures, menus, and food. Similarly, his photographs of Virginia’s monumental Works Progress Administration murals in post offices document not only the artwork but their specific architectural contexts.
Arrangement and access:
The collection is organized according to Calos’ original scheme in nine series, which derive from his presentations on bridges, churches of Petersburg, historic churches, colonial churches, diners, lighthouses, Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway), small-town USA, WPA murals, and a CD-ROM series of mixed subjects.