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You Can See Marvin Gaye as a Dapper Teenager at the DC History Center

The "Big Picture" exhibit at the renovated Carnegie Library shows panoramic images of DC's past.

You Can See Marvin Gaye as a Dapper Teenager at the DC History Center
Credit: Fred Schutz Historical Collection, Panoramic Images, Inc. All photos courtesy DC History Center.

April marked the 35th anniversary of Marvin Gaye‘s tragic death. The DC native, who would’ve turned 80 last month, makes a cameo in a new exhibit at the DC History Center—not as the powerhouse soul singer, but as a teenager. In “The Big Picture” you can see Gaye at 15 in a class photo from his time at Randall Junior High School in 1954, years before he added the “e” to his last name.

Zoom in, and you’ll spot a dapper young man by the name of Marvin P. Gay:

Doug Segal, owner of Panoramic Images, donated the photo to the Historical Society, along with the others on display—group shots of Washington’s elites, athletes, graduating classes, and laborers. Doug’s father, Ed Segal preserved an incredible collection of 9,000 negatives taken from 1913 through 1966 by his friend Fred Schutz. Both Ed and Shutz used Kodak Circuit cameras to capture panoramic photos of Washingtonians. This photo of Gaye and his classmates is just one in that collection.

Doug Segal and his team have spent the last few years scanning, retouching, and archiving Schutz’s collection, which can now be found online. The prints in the exhibit are an impressive eight feet tall by 40 feet wide.

“This is the funny thing about these amazing images—you have to find people who know about the history, the people, place, event and time in the picture—in order to tell the story,” says Doug. Jane Levey, the programs and exhibits curator at the Historical Society, identified Gaye in the photo and says this is the first time it’s being displayed in public in this prominent way.

Though Gaye was said to have had a challenging childhood in DC, he left his imprint all over the city and the Randall was no exception. He was even a member of the school’s choir, filling the halls with his harmonies.

The exhibit also features physical artifacts, such as the presidential box seats from the torn-down Griffith Stadium (once home to the Washington Senators baseball team), and a DC History Center Store, which sells items from Shop Made In DC.

The Historical Society is encouraging Washingtonians to take panoramic photos of their own and send them to panos@dchistory.org or tag them on social media using #bigpicturedc for a chance to be included in the exhibit.

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Assistant Editor

Elliot joined Washingtonian in January 2018. An alum of Villanova University, he grew up in the Philadelphia area before earning a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, TheAtlantic.com, and DCist.com, among others. He lives in Bloomingdale.