There’s a haunting charm to abandoned buildings. I’d love to photograph more of them, but my bravery for such ventures is slipping with the years. I have a digital photo archive seventeen years deep. Lots of these pictures have lain unexamined for years, images I intended to share in some meaningful way but did not get around to curating.
Today I sifted through some of these neglected photo sets and found pictures of an abandoned school building from 2006. Actually this building was partially vacated at that time. The rooms on the upper floor hadn’t hosted classes since the 70’s, but the lower floor was still in use as a gym until last year, when the entire structure was demolished.
Back then my daughter was attending a preschool adjacent to this building. She’d be there for just two hours of class that first year, so I’d fill that time with photo excursions around town, weather permitting. This December morning, I waited until the parking lot was still and slipped into the building next door. Since the gym was empty, I walked up the steps and took shots of those forlorn rooms upstairs.
There were still art class collages pasted to the walls of one of the rooms. These look 70’s vintage and have a feminist theme. This was a K-8 Catholic school. I attended a different Catholic school, and I can assure you that we never had license to create an assignment that included edgy material like this:
Maybe that wave of 70’s feminism swept deep into the Midwest. This was likely a junior high art project. By the time I was in junior high in the mid-80’s, I doubt even the public junior highs were assigning such work. In the 80’s, people lost certainty that plagues weren’t transmitted by words, pictures, or touch.
I wish I could return to take sharper pictures, but the demolition of this building makes that impossible. There were no electrical lights, so I had to rely on the light coming from the windows for these shots.
Take those pictures of oddball sights that resonate for you. It may be your only opportunity to capture that image.