Winfried P Sommerfeld emigrated from his native Germany in 1945. Following his tour of duty in the US Army, he settled in Auburn, Massachusetts. When stationed in Texas he photographed his army buddies who, impressed with his photographic skills, encouraged him to pursue a career in photography. Sommerfeld, returned to Auburn and established Sommerfeld Photo Film on Southbridge Street. He traveled New England’s country roads photographing the vernacular architecture of motels, restaurants and the rapidly growing automobile industry.
His photographs were printed as postcards and as advertisements and publicity. Sommerfeld closed his studio in 2000 and returned to Germany. In renovating his studio, contractors discarded the bulk of his life’s work placing them curbside on trash day. Fortunately they were salvaged and made available to The Photographic Preservation Center which, with support of Mass Humanities, The Dr Arthur Pappas and Dr. Martha Pappas Foundation and the Auburn Historical Museum is preserving over 1,000 of Sommerfeld’s historic photographs.