If ever the term "Renaissance Man" could be appropriately applied to a person, George J. Kossuth was the man. A photographer of consummate skill, he captured the character of some of the world's great personalities with his camera. His avocations covered the spectrum of the arts.
No one ever suspected that his formal education ended with the eighth grade. His assemblage of knowledge was the result of his own curiosity and boundless enthusiasm. He moved with confidence in the realms of music, art, the written word, the theatre, the garden, and the wood-working shop. Organizations of which he became a member invariably honored him with their highest office.
Kossuth's grandparents fled the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Peter Kossuth, George's Father, was a cabinet-maker and carpenter in Kentucky. George was born in Clifton, W.Va., but he and his family moved to Wheeling when he was young and lived in the Eighth Ward for many years.
A gift of a box camera when George was 12 ignited a spark. After the eighth grade, he entered a 10-year apprenticeship to learn the craft of photography. In 1909, he opened his own studio. His portrait photography became internationally renowned.
Kossuth earned Craftsmen and Masters honors in photography from the Photographers Association of America. He went on to become Chairman of the Board of the PPA and a trustee of the Association's Winona School of Photography.
The master photographer also loved music. As a board member of the Frazier Concert Society, he met every famous musical artist that came to Wheeling and photographed them all at this studio at 1219 Chapline St. Kossuth was instrumental in the organization of the Little Theatre of Wheeling. Along with his friend George Stroble, he established the first broadcasting studio of WWVA.
Kossuth loved to work with his hands. He restored a 1911 Stanley Steamer. And in 1941 he purchased the Stifel Mansion at 807 N. Main St. and restored it to its original state. It became his residence and studio, a place for many civic and social gatherings, as well as a meeting place for the Blue Pencil Club. It remained his home until he died in 1960.
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