Albert Schlechten was the first child born to cabinetmaker Christian Schlechten and his wife Marguerite in Berne, Switzerland on January 14, 1876. After completion of his public school education in 1892, he left Switzerland for the United States. Settling first in Steedman, Missouri, he worked initially as a farmhand before being introduced to photography, which he studied at a Centralia, Missouri studio. Eight years' later, Mr. Schlechten's younger brother Alfred joined him in the United States, and the brothers moved to Bozeman, Montana, where they promptly purchased the Grant and Tippet studio, which they operated as "Schlechten Brothers."
It was the breathtaking landscapes of Montana that quickly captured the elder Schlechten brother's attention and imagination. With his ever-present 11x14" large-format field camera, he photographed the surrounding farms, mountains, rivers and streams, and also made an impressive series of photographs in Yellowstone National Park. His landscapes were prominently featured on postcards popular with both Montana locals and tourists. Mr. Schlechten received several lucrative commissions to photograph Gallatin County, which enabled him to construct a spacious new studio that expanded to include offices and apartments in what became known as "Schlechten Block" situated at 12 South Black Avenue. By 1910, the brothers decided to end their partnership and focus on their own separate photographic pursuits. Two years later, Mr. Schlechten married Danish-born Karen Schmidt, and together they had two children, Albert Wilbur born in 1915 and Betty Marguerite born in 1918. In 1922, Mr. Schlechten decided he wanted to try his own hand at farming, and so he sold his successful studio to fellow landscape photographer Bertil Linfield. He purchased several Bozeman wheat farms along with the 350-acre ranch in Helena he called home for many years. Unfortunately, his farming endeavors dried up during the drought-like conditions of the late 1920s, and he sold his properties at a loss. He returned to photography with a new studio, known as Central Studio, located in Anaconda, Montana, which he operated until his retirement in 1946.
Eighty-five-year-old Albert Schlechten died in Mesa, Arizona on August 25, 1962. However, the photographic studio he first opened with his brother Alfred continued under the leadership of Alfred's son Alfred "Chris" Schlechten until his death in 1979. The following year, the Museum of the Rockies Photo Archive purchased the massive three-generation family photographic archive of more than 10,000 images, including more than 175 of Albert Schlechten's original 11x14 stereographic negatives that were taken between 1905 and 1925.
2015 1900's Photo of Mountain Climbers / Schlechten (URL: http://www.rubylane.com/item/61838-153293x20RL-3386/1900x27s-Photo-Mountain-Climbers-Schlechten).
2009 Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley by Tom Mulvaney (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing), p. 8.
1921 Montana: Its Story and Biography edited by Tom Stout (Chicago: The American Historical Society), p. 308.
1999 Montana Century: 100 Years in Pictures and Words by Michael P. Malone (Helena, MT: Falcon Publishing, Inc.), p. 98.
2014 Museum Albert Schlechten with Camera, Spanish Peaks, Montana (URL: http://www.morphotoarchive.org/subject_jpeg_rec.php?objno=x80.6.395).
1992 The Persistence of Ethnicity: Dutch Calvinist Pioneers in Amsterdam, Montana by Rob Kroes (Urbana: Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois), p. 68.
2014 The Schlechten Collection (URL: http://muse.museum.montana.edu/photoarc/info/schlechten-info.html).
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