Historic Photos Show Faces in Unexpected Places

House with a face
EXTERIOR, DETAIL OF EAST GABLE, SHOWING BRICK ‘ TUMBLING’ & OLD FIRING PORTS. – Fort Frey, State Route 5 Vicinity (Grand Street), Palatine Bridge, Montgomery County, NY.

The Library of Congress has released a fantastic series of historical photos that show faces in unexpected places.

In a blog post published today, the Library released photos of building exteriors and interiors where upon closer inspection, the photos reveal facial features that seem to emerge from the architecture.

The collection of photographs was taken across the 20th century and collated by the Library. They include a photo of Fort Frey, a French and Indian War settler fort established in 1739.

house with a face
DETAIL OF FRAMING CONSTRUCTION WEST ELEVATION. – Valley Mill, East Randolph Road (State Route 183), Colesville, Montgomery County, MD. Photo by John O. Brostrup, 1936 October 20.
house with a face
EXT. DETAIL VIEW SHOWING ENTRANCE DOORWAY, WINDOWS & SHUTTERS. – Wyckoff-Bennett House, Kings Highway & 1669 East Twenty-second Street, Brooklyn, Kings County, NY. Photo by Stanley P. Mixon, 1940 March 18.

Another of the photos shows a dilapidated building in Montgomery County, Maryland while another shows a well-heeled house in Brooklyn, New York.

All of the photos come from the Historic American Buildings Survey which documents achievements in architecture, engineering, and landscape design in the United States and its territories.

staircase with a face
STAIRWAY FIRST FLOOR NORTH BUILDING – Sea Cliff Inn, 31 Cliff Road, Nantucket, Nantucket County, MA. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, 1969 October.
House with a face
WINDOW DETAILS, SOUTH WING. – Rock Castle, Indian Lake Road (Berry Lane), Hendersonville, Sumner County, TN. Photo by Lester Jones, 1940 August 18.

The blog post from the Library of Congress was put together by Aliza Leventhal, the head of technical services of the prints and photographs division of the Library.

The faces are a result of pareidolia — the human tendency to see faces in random patterns. Last year, PetaPixel reported on a macro photo of an ant that looks like it has a horror face, when in reality what we perceive to be eyes are not eyes at all.

What makes these images so fascinating is not just the surprise factor of finding a face in an unlikely place, but also the deeper meaning they can evoke. It is a reminder that we humans are constantly seeking out patterns and faces, looking for connections and meaning in the world.