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Photo restorer opens gallery in Geneva

GENEVA – A photographer by trade, Patrick McGleam became interested in restoring old photographs after being given an old personal computer in the early 1990s. 

“I had an affinity for playing with Photoshop,” said McGleam, 58, of St. Charles. “It was like being in a darkroom [but] without all the chemicals and smells and stuff.”

McGleam found that he liked being able to manipulate photographs, and people started giving him old photos to restore or retouch.

And so a new business opportunity was born for McGleam. He opened McGleam Studios and worked out of his home for the past 15 years. But on Aug. 1, he relocated to the Berry House, 227 S. Third St., Geneva.

“I decided I needed the exposure,” McGleam said of moving to Geneva’s downtown. “I’m hoping to become the guy people come to in the western suburbs.”

He said he plans to have an open house soon to show his gallery of before and after photos he has retouched or restored.

“I scan it, or, if it’s too large, I rephotograph it, and then I do Photoshop and print it out to a real print,” McGleam said. “Almost everything I get is either one-of-a-kind or 100 years old, and that’s no exaggeration.”

Some photos he’s restored are of famous people, such as one of Harold Washington and Desmond Tutu at an interfaith prayer breakfast with a rabbi speaking at the podium, he said. 

Washington, the first African-American mayor of Chicago, served from 1983 until his death in 1987. Tutu, now retired, was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town and primate of the Anglican Church of South Africa, according to

Another photo he restored was valuable only to the family and brought tears to both McGleam and his customer, he said.

“Most valuable photos don’t look like much at all,” McGleam said. “I had a snapshot of a middle-aged man from the 1970s sitting at a picnic table at a forest preserve with a woman standing next to him.”

McGleam cautioned the man that the process to restore the old cracked and folded photo was “not inexpensive.”

“He said, ‘This was the last time my family was together. My mother died, and my dad put all of us up for adoption,’” McGleam said. “He found his sister 30 years later, and she pulled this picture out of a trunk.”

By the time McGleam finished fixing the photo’s cracks caused by folding, he found images of the man’s two sisters sitting on their dad’s lap, another little boy and the customer himself could be seen standing in the background between two trees. 

“We were both in tears when I handed him the picture,” McGleam said. “To him, it was priceless.”

McGleam Studios is on the second floor of the Berry House.

For information, visit or call 630-587-5808.

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