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House of Wills, Cleveland Ohio

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Nov. 26th, 2010 | 10:09 am
posted by: tune in abandonedplaces

Hello everyone! It's been a long time since I last posted. I've been really busy and haven't had the time I used to devote to this project that I used to.

Anyway, I recently got inside a great building in Cleveland- the House of Wills.

House of Wills


It was one owned by one of the first black entrepreneurs in Cleveland. He opened the business (his last name was wills) as a funeral home back in 1905. They don't know for sure when the building was built- the blueprints inside had a variety of dates from the late 1800's to early 1900's. The building says 1905, but that reflects the year Mr. Wills opened his business. There were also parts of the building that were added on after the initial build. It is a huge structure now, about 1/8th of an acre indoors. He lived in the building as well as had it function as his business- he died in his bedroom. It was re-purposed over the years- being a bunch of different things, like a school, etc. A lot of the building didn't actually change, the inside still looks a lot like what it was originally.


You can obviously see how much it has changed over the years.
Here are two photos of the casket viewing room. The first being from a promotional booklet released back in the early 1900's for the funeral home, the second being a photo I took last week of the same room.
It was completely pitch black, so a lot of these photos are using light I created over a long exposure.

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills Panorama

House of Wills


This room was called "dreamwald" - Mr. Wills originally envisioned this room as a place where segregation didn't exist, where blacks and whites could live together peacefully- but that wasn't easy in their neighborhood.


House of Wills

House of Wills


House of Wills

House of Wills



House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills


The hearse.

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills


Assorted "now" Photos

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills

House of Wills


Plans for this buildings future? Unlike a lot of the places I have been in previously, this one has plans to be restored, furnished in-period and lived in/rented out for parties, etc. After having the privilege of exploring this building, I am really glad that it's not going to waste and is being restored. There were a lot of beautiful rooms inside, and even more that I didnt have time to photograph. (the place is huge!)

I've posted here a lot, if you'd like to see previous places i've been in you can visit my website, Ruined Nation to see all of my locations to date.
Thanks for reading! :)

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Comments {35}

themushroomtree

(no subject)

from: themushroomtree
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
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LOVE the photo with the man looking out the window. Absolutely perfect.

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JJ_MacCrimmon

(no subject)

from: jj_maccrimmon
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
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These photos (especially before & after) are outstanding. Hopefully the place can find a second life instead of following the many folks who've passed through it into memory.

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 ≠

(no subject)

from: 6cubed
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
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Do you know when the building will be restored?

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Happy Accidents

(no subject)

from: cosmiccircus
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
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I love these was/is posts! Great photos, research, etc!

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Screen Siren

(no subject)

from: misskelleen
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
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I do too, I love to see the comparison.

Great photos ♥

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kaylese

(no subject)

from: cheeseandjoe
date: Nov. 27th, 2010 05:52 am (UTC)
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I also love the comparison photos. I find it funny in the "dreamwald" room ones that the current hole in the ceiling mimics the shapes of the former fireplace & couch.

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kindredspirit75

(no subject)

from: kindredspirit75
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
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The photo before the one of the hearse creeped me out. The light image looks like a person sitting in the chair.

Great shots!

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strategicdenial

(no subject)

from: strategicdenial
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
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OH WOW. absolutely gorgeous shots.

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☆

(no subject)

from: theidolhands
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
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Rad. A+

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Serenity

(no subject)

from: dark_fire18
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
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Omg. Awsome building. <3 Thanks for sharing.

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(no subject)

from: mangiati_vivi
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC)
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Awesome location, and beautiful shots. One bit of criticism, though - I found the shots with the squiggles of light to be really distracting. I kept trying to take in the room itself, but my eye would invariably drift back to the squiggles. To be fair, I prefer my abandoned places with a bare minimum of "extra" artsy stuff, so I might be a bit biased. :)

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jamie28

(no subject)

from: jamie28
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
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i agree. the photos are great, but the light squiggles don't add anything. they subtract from it.

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Patterns In The Ivy

(no subject)

from: missynaesthesia
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
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This has blown my mind a little. Thank you. :)

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Dana

(no subject)

from: concealedcliche
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
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Incredible! Thanks for sharing.

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Yoko⋆

(no subject)

from: zucci_zookeenee
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
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Wonderful! The colours and lights in them are just fabulous.

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jamie28

(no subject)

from: jamie28
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)
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is it just me, or did the "w" fall off of the hearse, so it says "house of ills"?

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loli_cat

(no subject)

from: loli_cat
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
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It's great to hear that the building is going to be restored. I find myself wondering where all the neat stuff, like the sphynxes, went. Hope the present owner keeps it secure against vandalism until they can restore it!

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chris

(no subject)

from: und1sk0
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
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E 149th and Harvard.. I'll have to check it out next time I'm in town.

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Mateo Malo

(no subject)

from: laviemoderne
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
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That building RULES!

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999

(no subject)

from: vicioushamsterp
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
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i'm going to assume the man made of light sitting in the chair is purposeful in this photo: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4085/5190783669_21bbda33d9_z.jpg

very cool. you are pretty masterful at long exposure photography.\

although i do agree that the light squiggles in some of the photos are distracting, this particular one is neat.

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Violent Beauregarde

(no subject)

from: kinkyuncle
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
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What a huge shame that a house that beautiful has been left to decay like this. I'm so glad it's being restored. Some of that wallpaper was so awesome.

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Christopher

(no subject)

from: scream4noreason
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)
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Very creepy! Definitely needs to be restored.

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Some Slut I Used to Fuck

(no subject)

from: filthy_lily
date: Nov. 26th, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
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Awesome. Love the before and afters! Thanks for posting!

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umihana

(no subject)

from: umihana
date: Nov. 27th, 2010 05:40 am (UTC)
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awesome. beautiful. what a find, and before and afters especially great.

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Ennui in Suburbia

(no subject)

from: irreparable
date: Nov. 27th, 2010 05:42 am (UTC)
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This is an amazing post. The photos are remarkable and beautiful. I love the before/after shots and the various details. Wonderful.

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Sadie

*DROOOOLL*

from: sicksadie
date: Nov. 27th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
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That purple casket room is amazing.
No kidding I want that colour for my room.

Great photo set.

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Sadie

Re: *DROOOOLL*

from: sicksadie
date: Nov. 27th, 2010 06:53 am (UTC)
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mind if i post this to my blog? with links and bells and whistles and everything?

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Meghan

(no subject)

from: ofmeghan
date: Nov. 27th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
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I don't understand why some of the original rooms are so Vegas-y and tacky.

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Katie

(no subject)

from: katiefoolery
date: Nov. 28th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
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It's such a gracious building and I'm glad it's going to be restored and lived in once again. Thanks for sharing the photos. :)

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pansypoo

(no subject)

from: pansypoo
date: Nov. 28th, 2010 01:45 am (UTC)
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i went to the estate sale of a black woman who had gotten her funeral service degree in the 40's or so after her husband who started the funeral home. not so grand. but old house. i went into the basement where the bodies were done. very creepy. i remember she worked into her 70's i think.

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Mousegirl

(no subject)

from: minniemousegirl
date: Nov. 28th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
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ALL of THAT is in there? Huge spaces! OMG!! I wish I could see this place. It's amazing!

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Elliot McBeal

(no subject)

from: mcbealism
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
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Wow these are amazing... I love the before and after pictures!

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meme_me

Amazing

from: meme_me
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 10:21 am (UTC)
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Thank you for this, I really enjoyed reading about the building, seeing the before and after shots and getting a real appreciation of scale. Your a very talented photographer, I agree with some prior statements that the light drawing was a little distracting from the subject, but from an art point of view, did work rather well in some shots. Its been a long time since I was this engaged by a post on here.

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Ground control

(no subject)

from: deviant_man
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
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magic place

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Amanda Nicole

(no subject)

from: dixiechick61688
date: Dec. 1st, 2010 06:20 am (UTC)
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Such a gorgeous place, thanks for sharing. :)

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