Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “abandoned buildings”

Save Detroit!

Today’s Brew:  Vanilla Caramel Creme. I stick with what works

by Kristen

I finished Night Moves the other night, and I’m trying really hard to take a break from writing. (Not that it worked, about 500 words of my  new project, In the Still Of The Night, slipped out last night). It feels weird, with no book calling to me to continue.  I’m looking for distractions.  Of course, that means I headed straight to Pinterest.

(Makes faces at everyone who said I needed a Pinterest. I have it under control. Really. I can stop anytime.)

Of course, I wanted to dedicate a board to my love of wreckage, abandoned buildings.  In my pinning frenzy, I stumbled upon this and I can’t get it out of my head.

In the 1950’s, Detroit was home to almost two million people.  Today, less than half that number call it home.  One in three of Detroit’s buildings are abandoned.  Roughly 45,000. They succumb to vandalism and fire.   The city has been razing roughly 5,000 a year, but the rest remain as eyesores.  The average sale price of a home in the city is $9,000.

Abandoned Detroit street before and after

Abandoned Detroit street before and after

Despite the revitalization of the American auto industry, Detroit is still losing jobs in the economic recovery.  The high school drop out rate hovers around seventy five percent.  The murder rate makes New York City look like a quiet suburb.

The ballroom of the Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit.

The ballroom of the Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit.

I feel like I’m telling you about a third world country, and I’m not.  This is America. We can do better than this. With our eyes closed.

"Nothing stops Detroit" Chevrolet 1939

“Nothing stops Detroit” Chevrolet 1939

 

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The Ghosts of Industry

Today’s Brew:  I want coffee so bad right now but I have to be up before the rooster tomorrow morning.  Water only.  Wah.

by Kristen

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Back when industry thrived in America, Cordage Park in North Plymouth, Massachusetts supported a vibrant local community as well as the world with the rope it produced. At one time, the Cordage Company was the largest producer of rope and twine in the world.  My Grampy worked at the Cordage.  Houses throughout the village were made for the workers, and gorgeous mansions for the bosses (just one street over from where our very own Julie lives now).  The company closed in 1964, when it could no longer compete with synthetic fiber rope making.

The building has had many incarnations in the almost fifty years since the last rope was made.  For many years, rumors swirled about casinos and condos being built on site.  The notorious Plymouth Rock Movie Studios operated their offices from one of the Cordage buildings.  An unsuccessful mall withered away.  Walmart came and went.  Now, the complex houses medical offices, satellite office locations, the regional unemployment office, a gym, and several restaurants.  The carcass of the old Walmart of course stands empty.

But does it have any ghosts?

Many people have told stories of unexplained music being played and children laughing.  Another rumored permanent resident is a boy who got caught in the smokestack and died.  Remember, there were no child labor laws in the nineteenth century.

Not all of the complex has found new uses.  Some of the buildings near the old train tracks (Cordage now marks the last stop of the MBTA commuter rail) remain abandoned.  The company is on the shores of the Atlantic, so I’m not sure if the decaying buildings had anything to do with train or boat travel.  A small marina still operates on the site.  I took a few pictures for you today when I visited the farmer’s market.  (I got jalapeno and blueberry jams).

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Wreckage

Today’s Brew:  Jamaica Me Crazy.  Back to the Classics for spring.

by Kristen

Abandoned buildings, neglected and crumbling in disrepair, have always fascinated me.  At one time, that building was someone’s home or business, brand new and full of hopes and dreams for the future.  What made them give up on that structure?  Did they plan to return, and that’s why they didn’t give it the proper burial of tearing it down?  Or did they want all of us to know of its once proud history, not to forget?

One day I set out with my camera to photograph some of these places.  To give them back the pride stolen from them.  I soon learned I wasn’t alone in my fascination.  Photographing these abandoned buildings is known as urban exploration.  A friend and extremely talented photographer, Stephanie Pierce, introduced me to this community and showed me around one of her favorite places to explore, the abandoned Belchertown State School.

Crumbling on a sprawling campus in Western Massachusetts,  the school is remembered for its inhumane and atrocious care of patients, as well as gross under-staffing.  Many residents were disregarded by doctors, left to roll around naked in their own excrement, and forced into having homosexual intercourse by the staff.  This was in the 20th century, folks.  We’re not talking medieval times like Bethlehem Hospital. Some of this treatment continued until 1992, when the state forced the closing of the school.

On the day we visited, the campus was easily accessible and many of the buildings had open doors from prior break ins.  We could easily see the old kitchen and library.  The smell of a fire weeks earlier still hung heavy in the air.  I asked Stephanie why the state left the campus to rot, a horrible reminder of past treatment of those with mental disabilities.  She told me that the asbestos on the site had leaked into the ground, making it unsafe for use.  She did also tell me that a developer had mentioned plans for a possible strip mall.  Somehow, that seemed even more obscene to me.  Covering up such horrors with inane capitalism.

In recent years, I haven’t had a chance to do as much exploring as I used to.  Simply put, life got in the way.  I’m thrilled that I was able to capture some local buildings before they were torn down.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the wire to load the photos from my camera to the computer.  Now that it’s spring (at least on the calendar.  Brrr!), I think I may go out for some new explorations.  It’s a piece of history you’ll never find in a text book, and it says way more about who we were as communities.

All photography courtesy SPierce Photography.  Go check out her beautiful website and hire her for something.  www.spiercephotography.com

March Madness: It begins!

Today’s Brew:  All the coffee

KRISTEN

You may or may not be relieved to find this post has nothing to do with college basketball. Julie’s husband came up with a great concept for the month of March:  March Madness.  Julie and I will be exploring all that is creepy–haunted stuff, insanity, mental institutions, deviants, and scary old buildings.  On Manic Mondays, check in for short stories.

This Old House

Julie and I were obsessed with this house when we were kids.  It looks much better now than it did then.  It’s previous owner had let it fall into disrepair to the point we thought they had abandoned it.  You may have a hard time believing this, but we were bold little kids, and we had no problem going right up to the windows and sticking our faces in. Today we would realize the old owners were just  hoarders, not the killers we assumed.  We’d see yellowing newspapers and moldy boxes of Cheese Its.  I don’t remember, but Julie says she say someone sleeping on a bed inside.  (Side note by Julie: I was almost certain that person was dead. They so weren’t, of course, but I was convinced.) That didn’t stop us from peaking in, seeing what we could see.  Both of us credit that house with our current fascination with abandoned buildings in disrepair. Sometimes I photograph them.  I like to call them wreckage.  Even more fascinating is that some of these dilapidated buildings are still in use!   I stopped to take pictures of what I thought was a closed business in a neighboring town one day, shocked to realize that it was very much still in operation.

JULIE

March Madness gives me a reason to play with insanity, a terror I hold near and dear. Kristen and I are excited to toy with the creative genius and their madnesses. The best works are reflective of the inner lunatic, I believe. I’ll work on insane vampire myths and stories, as well as plenty on asylums, which I am particularly psyched out of my mind for. I will be researching OCD this month, too, for my Trent from The Animal, so I will keep you updated. You may get to see something from my favorite vampire serial killer, Chris Lynch, also, if you’re lucky.

Strap up that straightjacket, friends, for some decadently dark stuff this month.

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