Abandoned America March Updates
Posted: 26th March 2015
Since February I have been adding a pretty massive amount of content to the website and overhauling a lot of what was there. It's more exciting than it sounds - the pictures in galleries are larger (even better for hunting for small odd shadows and talking yourself into thinking they're ghosts), as well as in many cases cleaned up so that they are more consistent with my current standards. In addition I have really been giving Instagram and Twitter a go, possibly because there were several moments of my life here and there that weren't squandered by social media. I really hope you'll join me there as I am doing my best to post photographs that are unique (not on my Facebook page or website yet), and different edits of past favorites. I also am going to be running a print contest very soon on all three as well as a book giveaway on one of them or another, so the more time you spend staring into the bottomless maw of the internet, the greater your odds are of winning free Abandoned America stuff! Side note, it occurs to me that perhaps I should hire someone with skills in "marketing" and "not making things sound awful and depressing" to write these things for me. Too late now! Let's move on to the good stuff:
Just, Like, So Many New Galleries: During winter I kind of hate life and hide away in my office, staring at glowing rectangles. It's a sad thing, really, but it does mean that I plow through just an absolute ton of backlog. How much backlog? How about 4.5 brand new galleries, and 4 old ones with loads of new content and larger/newly processed versions of the previous images? Are you excited? Yeah? I hope so because man, it was a lot of work. I could have been out, I don't know, kayaking, or whatever people who don't stare at glowing rectangles all day do.
The Ladd School - The Ladd School was a pretty legitimately terrible place - founded by a Eugenicist and run with all the warmth, compassion, and value for human lives Eugenicists are typically known for having (none, essentially). Most of my images are from the 'Hospital of Tomorrow', or as it probably should have been known, the 'Hospital of Unsanitary and Life Threatening Conditions'.
Undercliff Sanatorium - Built as a sanatorium and later converted to an asylum, Undercliff was a pretty imposing yet attractive piece of architecture. The main building was closed just over 40 years before I visited it, had a lovely theater, and was unceremoniously demolished last year.
Pilgrim State Hospital - Once the largest state hospital facility in the world, Pilgrim's abandoned sections were as imposing as they were haunting. See the massive medical/surgical building, now demolished, which had the operating room where it is estimated that over 2,000 lobotomies were performed.
Ammendale Normal Institute - Ammendale was once a monastery. It closed, and suffered from a terrible fire that left it an overgrown shell. It was a pretty shell, though, and I decided to add it to the site in a fit of nostalgia since it's been gone for years.
The Abandoned Aquarium - Opened in the mid 1950s, this aquarium was closed in favor of a larger one that had been built. It was relatively small, but its flooded hallways and eerie atmosphere made visiting it a distinctive experience.
The Ruins of American Homes - Few things are as sad as an abandoned home, because in them we see reflections of our own surroundings without us, but for that very reason, few things are so compelling. Massively updated.
Old Essex County Prison - One of my old favorites galleries (and thus a chapter in my new book), I decided to remaster and add quite a bit of new content. Still one of the scariest places I've been, for totally non-paranormal reasons.
Ocean Vista Hospital - Ocean Vista, another chapter in my new book, is actually an incredibly historic place and also one of my favorite galleries. This tuberculosis hospital had so many more images that I wanted to add, so I just did a massive update.
Fallside Hotel & Conference Center - Fallside, recently demolished, was a modern but in places very decayed conference center that some of my all-time favorite images came from. Still working on the gallery, but it's worth a visit as-is.
Workshops: The first round of workshops starts this weekend and many of the Spring ones have sold out and so far we've paid over $10,000 to property owners just in 2015 which goes towards the sites we have these events at. Here are the ones with spots for the upcoming months. If you'd like to check it out follow this link or scan through them below, you can also see the Facebook page for people to post photographs from them here:
Vanishing Countryside (6/13/15): Visit an area with dozens of abandoned farms and homes hidden away in some truly breathtaking scenery.
Old Game Farm (Catskill, NY 8/23/15): The Catskill Game Farm was once the largest privately owned zoo in the US; now it is home to well over 100 abandoned structures of varying sizes on over 200 acres, and is also located in a pretty beautiful area to boot.
Victory Theater (Holyoke, MA 6/27/15): Matt Lambros of After the Final Curtain joins us in a truly spectacular theater that has been abandoned for nearly 40 years.
Mount Moriah Night Photography Workshop (Philadelphia, 4/3/15): This overgrown cemetery is full of amazing secrets and great photo opportunities. The Haunt of Mount Moriah (Moriah's unofficial sheriff and historian) will join us as we scout the grounds after sunset.
Pennhurst State School (Spring City, PA 6/6/15 and 8/22/15): One of the most popular workshops, Pennhurst had a frightening history of abuse and neglect. The decaying institutional architecture offers a lot of opportunities to photograph the remains.
Variety Theater (Cleveland, OH 4/12/15): Another workshop with Matt Lambros, this is a rare opportunity to visit a hidden gem. There are loads of other spots to visit (not on the workshop) in the area too should you choose to make a weekend of it!
Trolley Graveyard (4/18/15): Another favorite, this spot was really popular last year because... it's just beautiful. There's so much to photograph and it's just a really fun area to visit as well. Almost full, will be adding a summer one soon.
"Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences": Did you know I have a new book that came out in December? You did? Yeah, I have kind of been mentioning it in every email blast and on my social media a lot. Your support and positive reviews on Amazon have meant so much. Thank you. Here's the Amazon link, and here's where you can buy a signed copy on my website. We'll leave it at that!
#preservationworks Historic Asylum Preservation Conference: My friend Christian J. VanAntwerpen is putting together a conference at the stunning former state hospital in Traverse City, MI on April 21 that I thought you might be interested in. For what I consider to be a ridiculously low donation of $125 that goes towards the effort to save another beautiful, endangered asylum in Fergus Falls, MN, you not only get admittance to the conference in the Traverse City State Hospital chapel but also hours of access to the renovated main building of Traverse City State Hospital, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph the still abandoned outbuildings, and a night photography workshop focusing on the exteriors. Amazing.
Even if you're unable to make it, please consider making a donation to the cause. Historic state hospitals are vanishing rapidly and the effort to save them is more important now than ever. If you do sign up, let him know I directed you his way. I don't get anything from that really but satisfaction as the proceeds all go towards the preservation effort for Fergus Falls State Hospital. It is important to note that this is not necessarily a chance you'll be getting again in the future so if you want to join consider doing it before all the spots are gone. Here's the event details and where you can go to make a donation to join.
So, uh, that's that, I guess! Here we are at the end of the post. I hope it was all that you had hoped for! It's going to be a busy month or two ahead with lots of workshops, new events, photographing new places, and adding to the website. Thank you as always for being a part and for following my work!
By Lisa Forman: Has the Scranton Lace Factory been sold? Any chance you are going back there this summer? I would so love a second chance at that place!