When Beverly White-Seals took over as president and CEO of the Columbia Foundation this spring, one of her priorities had nothing to do with managing a 33-year-old foundation that awards grants to nonprofit organizations in Howard County.
She wanted to do something about the walls in the foundation's office, located on Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia.
"When you came in here, the walls were absolutely bare," she recalled. "I did not want to work in a building with bare walls."
And now, she doesn't. Thanks to donations from two local photographers, the foundation's walls are adorned with a dozen framed photographs of historic or iconic Howard County scenes, from the Banneker Cabin in Columbia and the B&O Railroad Depot in Ellicott City, to a fall foliage scene on Lake Kittamaqundi and a trickling stream at the Howard County Conservancy in Woodstock.
"It makes a big difference," White-Seals said. "Particularly since the photos come from throughout Howard County."
The photographs were selected, she explained, to reflect the work of the Columbia Foundation, which since its founding in 1969 has distributed some $12 million in grants to nonprofits across the county.
The photographs were taken and donated by Joseph Murray, director of community relations at the Ascend One Corp. in Columbia, and Don Reichle, who retired eight years ago from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.
Both have been shooting photographs for decades.
Murray, 67, a member of the Columbia Foundation board of trustees, is a part-time professional photographer who usually shoots meetings and events. But he also keeps his eye out for compelling Howard County scenes.
"I like landscapes," said Murray, who lives in Owen Brown. "We have so much here in Howard County to photograph."
It was Murray who, during lunch with White-Seals months ago, suggested she line the foundation's walls with photographsand also suggested that she contact Reichle.
Columbia resident Reichle, 76, said he has been shooting historic sites across Maryland for nearly a half-century. Earlier this month he donated nearly 300 images to the Maryland Historical Society, he said, and some of his photographs of the county will soon be on display at the Miller branch library, in Ellicott City.
"I've always been interested in history," Reichle said. About having his photos displayed at the Columbia Foundation, Reichle said, "Anything that puts history out there to people, that's good."
The photographs by Murray and Reichle went up in the foundation's main hall and hallways about two months ago, and White-Seals said they'll stay up — at least until others are framed and put on display on a rotating basis.
"These gorgeous photos capture some of the most iconic locations throughout the county, including some connected to organizations we support," White-Seals said.
The public is welcome to view the photographs during normal business hours at the foundation office, 10630 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 315.