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The Disgrace of Letchworth Village

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Oct. 31st, 2011 | 07:49 pm
mood: aggravatedaggravated
posted by: dark_fetus in abandonedplaces


In 1909, New York opened a newly erected facility for the aid and housing of, as the literature states, the "feeble minded and epileptics" of that state.
The place was named for William Pryor Letchworth, a key player in its creation and a noted humanitarian of the time.
To avoid creating an institutional environment, the grounds were arranged much like a college campus.

The buildings were relatively small, typically not exceeding two stories in height, and were inspired by the aesthetics of Greek architecture.
Walls of carefully hand-cut stone punctuated by arched windows and column-girded doorways could be found at every turn. Short walks across grassy lawns separated the buildings,
and the greater campus, known as Letchworth village, housed its own power plant, farmland, waste disposal and water supply. It was the first of its kind, a facility
that was all-inclusive and could operate completely isolated from the outside world.

During my research we found that even a passing mention of its name is bound to bring out ghost stories. Abandoned places, especially asylums,
are a frequent object of attentions of paranormal investigators, and Letchworth seems to be a particular favorite. Though we are not ones to delve into ghost-hunting ourselves,
we are not opposed to it as a rule. That being said, I do take issue with the manner in which more and more so-called “paranormal investigations” are performed, wherein the investigators
treat an abandoned location as a giant nighttime playground to run through with a digital audio recorder and occasionally a case of beer. Sadly, I find that television shows on the subject
have only helped to promote this attitude. What this attitude lacks, primarily, is respect - Respect for people who lived and died here, but more importantly, the people
who endured lives of unimaginable isolation and pain, tormented by the demons of their own minds that the medicine of the time was helpless to cure.























































- Historical Imagery -













The following video is a complete re-make of a film we did some 2-3 years ago about this place.
The old documentary footage and audio clips are from a 1970's exposé by Geraldo Rivera.
It's titled "The Last Great Disgrace" and did wonders in bringing the blight of the mentally (and often physically) handicapped
to the eyes of the public in a dramatic way. I strongly suggest a viewing if you have not seen it.
It will certainly serve to put these kinds of places into the proper perspective.




I'm not one for rants, but as it turns out the television show Ghost Adventures just aired an episode
this passed weekend about this place. I couldn't sit through the episode in its entirety,
but what I saw of it online upset Christina and I quite a lot.
Their inability to act with any form of tact or poise, taking a place of tremendous historical value
and using its painful history for their own gain is frustrating to witness.
No matter what TV wants you to believe, Letchworth Village is not a haunted house -
it's a monument to the suffering of many nameless and helpless people, from an era not that long ago.
I'm not opposed to anyone preforming paranormal investigations there, just conduct it with some sense of dignity please.

Sorry for the venting. It can just get a bit disheartening sometimes...
~Rusty

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Comments {83}

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Presenting Online Personality - Mister Peabody

(no subject)

from: vodkabeforenoon
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
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I always look forward to your posts.
I don't consider your thoughts to be something one should apologize for.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:40 am (UTC)
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Thank you very much.
If this were a more formal forum, I would refrain from the long-winded rants.
However being as it is Live"Journal", I think that the personal touches are what make people's posts more endearing/interesting.
We are a collection of people, so the emotional content is just as important and the imagery.

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Adrian Chester

(no subject)

from: adrianchester
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
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Stunning images!

Also I am not sure if it was the same tv show I made the mistake of watching when I had access to foxtel early this year but yes, I can definitely see what you mean about the lack of respect.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:41 am (UTC)
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There's a lot of ghost-hunting shows on nowadays, so it could have been any of them.
I actually don't watch television myself, but Christina found the episode via YouTube.

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Nutmeg3

(no subject)

from: nutmeg3
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
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I'm always moved to overwhelming sadness by places like this. There's such a lesson to be learned here about how even well-meaning efforts are no better than the knowledge - or lack thereof - they're based on. Incidentally, do you know if this was the same Letchworth for whom Letchworth State Park was named? I'm guessing yes, but...

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
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Sometimes well-meaning is not enough, especially when the subject at hand is so taboo that progressive thinking is difficult.
You do have to remember that these places were created for the betterment of society, and it was typically not the fault of the institution that it failed.
It almost always comes down to lack of funding... therefore lack of staff, food, clothing, beds, and all else.

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Cephalolith

(no subject)

from: pncxcll
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
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Its also a local attraction, because of its alleged status as a haunted house. And you're right it's not haunted, however its state of disrepair (and history) does bring about about an unsettling attraction. Also, it does serve as a history lesson, as to what my own county was doing for decades. And I'm surprised this much is still standing, I hear it was set to be torn down a few years ago.

Nice pictures, I haven't been there in years.

Side note: I can only assume as to why, but its location off the Parkway "Letchworth Village" has been covered somewhat recently. I guess to deter people from visiting.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:45 am (UTC)
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It has a haunting history indeed, but as for actual ghosts... I'm not so sure.
I think these places should be shared with the public, if only as a reminder or perhaps to stir a sense of pride in our progress.
It's value is very much related to the light in which it is shown. Sadly that is typically the one of "spooky haunted asylum".

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The Silver Wolf of Darkness

(no subject)

from: silvolf
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:44 am (UTC)
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I agee with what you said about the paranormal investigating. I think there is a kind of beauty to the buildings as the leaves and vines take over. The old photos are interesting too. Great post!

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
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Thanks, glad you liked it.
It is beautiful, most of these places are... to us in this community anyway.
The sombre history serves to make the present-day state of the place much more intriguing.

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umihana

(no subject)

from: umihana
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
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your posts are always so rich. It is disheartening to see the same taboos and exploitation that we had gotten past since the seventies, played out across television screens, and emulated by the desensitized. The video was beautiful and disturbing. Very touching post.

Thanks for all your good work!

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umihana

(no subject)

from: umihana
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
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*played out across current television screens

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midnight21

(no subject)

from: midnight21
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
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http://www.opacity.us/site16_letchworth_village.htm

I found some more information here... beautiful writing and photographs. I've always enjoyed your posts!

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
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Opacity is a great website, that "Mr.Motts" has been everywhere... everywhere abandoned anyway.

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Princess Sparkle

(no subject)

from: tiajuanabible
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
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the original video of geraldo rivera is sickening.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 01:55 am (UTC)
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Sickening and very important. He used to be a good guy, not sure what happened to him...

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Strange little girl...

(no subject)

from: strangemodegirl
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
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I always find your posts beautiful and sad. Curious, those last few before the historical photos, are those grave markers?

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
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Yes they are. No names given, just numbers on a simple metal steak.
A memorial was recently put up which lists the names of those buried on the grounds,
however which names go to the corresponding numbers is still unknown.
It's all very sad...

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alice_confetti

(no subject)

from: alice_confetti
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
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What gets me is that it's 100 years later and social services and mental health treatment is still so massively underfunded. It's a national disgrace.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
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Everything is underfunded nowadays... except the military.
As a culture though, we have come very far very quickly, in regards to how we actually see and treat the handicapped.

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Colleen McGowan

(no subject)

from: Colleen McGowan
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 02:27 am (UTC)
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my mother used to work there in the late 70s early 80s, 6 years after that documentary. once that came out, they hired more staff and things drastically improved. She said they while yes, they still were mostly lined up in the wards they were all clothed and had diapers and things were much better. She worked in the hospital. Mostly after that aired, people came to take their family members to put them in group home situations but the most severly handicapped had to be kept in the hospital. She says there was a man so big and deformed they had to keep him in a cage just so he wouldn't hurt himself or the nurses....its all very sad.

Family members upon learning what became of their siblings or cousins (disapearing only to hear they were sent to letchworth) would come looking for their graves and my mother would have to go through all the files and make a number of phone calls trying to get the information and location (this was before computers after all)


I watched the episode of Ghost Adventures with my mom. I understand what you mean, appearing to have a lack of respect...I tend to think nick, zak, and aaron go to the places SO MUCH that they dont have the time to truly understand each situation they go into, not that it makes it that much better. Also considering I am a huge fan of ghost adventures I have a biased opinion.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
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Things did improve, I know that much. Speaking with someone who used to work there, as you do, must present an interesting view on things.
Still, who knows if things would have actually improved if not for the dramatic documentary film which brought attention to the situation.

As far as Ghost Adventures, people can do whatever they wish, and be entertained by whatever television shows they choose.
My real "beef" is that, as they are the ones displaying this location to the world, they are obligated (in my mind) to be educated and respectful of anyplace with genuine historical significance.

Please understand, I am NOT hating on people who enjoy the show, or on the idea of ghost-hunting in general.
I just would love to see it handled with more passion and respect than I currently see on television.

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evermoredefiant

(no subject)

from: evermoredefiant
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 03:10 am (UTC)
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"just conduct it with some sense of dignity please."

AMEN

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
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:)

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kaylese

(no subject)

from: cheeseandjoe
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 03:35 am (UTC)
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It's so sad to see grave numbers instead of names.

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Quinton

(no subject)

from: raven_blue
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
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Death is the one thing that will never discriminate. Death doesnt care if your name is Bob or Sally, Issac or Hazzim or Tojo so in a way it is an honest memorial. Of course it is still very sad.

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bella_cheval

(no subject)

from: bella_cheval
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:55 am (UTC)
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I look forward to your posts AND commentary as well.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. Extra thanks for reading what I write, I always assume 90% of people just skim over the pics.

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operatic_diva

(no subject)

from: operatic_diva
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 06:12 am (UTC)
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What an amazing post! The article you added about the "feeble minded" girl made me so sad, she was given such a shit start to life. Hopefully she was taken care of (I can hope).

Amazing pictures, this is a post that will stay with me for a long time. Thank you.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC)
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Yea, that last piece really puts things into light huh?
Shameful, but mostly due to massive misunderstanding by medical science.

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synnie

(no subject)

from: synnoveaevael
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)
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haunting post, yet again, good sir.

i hate those ghost shows and their shady ass exploitation of places. some of my friends adore them and i'm like "don't you know what editing is?"

i really like the history on this one as well. i love that you post it.

what HAPPENED to geraldo? what happened to respectable journalism?

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Quinton

(no subject)

from: raven_blue
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
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There has never been really respectable journalism. The 5th estate has always been biased, slanderous, cantankerous and out for a profit. newspapers in the 19th century were only slightly more honest than dime novels, in fact many dime novel authors were also journalists. And the 18th century journalism was all about working towards your agenda at the expense of any other. The great con in America is that journalists somehow managed to convince us what they were saying was truthful and free from bias. Liberal MSNBC and Conservative FOX are just the modern successors.

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nightchild01

(no subject)

from: nightchild01
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 08:34 am (UTC)
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The cemetery reminds me of a cemetery my fiance and I visited on Saturday. The section we visited is abandoned and ill-kept; some of the gravestones have fallen down the steep hill on the side, thick weeds everywhere (would be impossible to get through in the summer), rusty metal stakes where paper with names used to be (the paper is unreadable). We even found freshly dug ground (same size/shape as some of the graves, very creepy!).

As usual, thank you for sharing. I agree, places like this should be treated with respect. My fiance and I visited the abandoned cemetery on Saturday just to read the headstones, didn't even take any pictures (though we plan to go back to do that).

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jamie28

(no subject)

from: jamie28
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 12:44 pm (UTC)
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in the 1990's i had reason to visit both of the local state hospitals that were slowly being closed down (for professional reasons). even then things were pretty appalling, though not nearly as bad as in the past. we were shown a room full of people with no attendants present and told to "pick one" to go visit the group home i worked at to see if we could find a "good fit". frankly, none of them were a good fit. all of the people that would fit into that particular home had already been taken to other places. it was more than horrible and heart-wrenching.

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Every Day Above Ground

(no subject)

from: mallorys_camera
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 11:08 am (UTC)
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Amazing photographs, amazing annotation.

I hope you publish a book.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
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Thanks!
I do have a book out actually. This place is actually in it, as is a portion of my text from above.
It's called Forsaken, here's a link to it:
Forsaken by Rusty Tagliareni
You can also find it in bookstores and Barnes&Nobels in and around NJ.

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Katura

(no subject)

from: katura
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 11:30 am (UTC)
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Well said about the ghost hunting TV shows. It annoys me that some people only see any interest in these places if they might be "haunted". They are so much more than that.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
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Exactly! I actually had a similar discussion with the guy who runs Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.
Their haunted house draws controversy sometimes, but it's there to generate revenue to keep the place open, so I completely understand the need for it.

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greyeyedeve

(no subject)

from: greyeyedeve
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
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One of the reasons I love your posts is your compassion as well as your passion for your subjects. Wonderful work as always, so thank you for sharing it.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
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Thank you very much.
Passion is key when working with places such as this. I think we all feel a sort of respect when we are filming abandoned places.
I know quite a few people personally who care quite deeply for history and past human dramas,
but sadly they do not seem to ever write about it or voice their thoughts in that way.
I think it's mostly because they don't think they can properly put their feelings into words... I wish they would though.

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I could live in the space between her heartbeats

(no subject)

from: _asphodel_
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC)
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As always, your photos are truly incredible and I love what you have to say. Thank you for posting

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for reading the words which accompany the pictures ;)

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moonsson

(no subject)

from: moonsson
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
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As always,amazing.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
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Thank you kindly.

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-wiser_with_distance-

(no subject)

from: laika_came_home
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC)
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Ghost Adventures is terrible. They never show any of their sites any respect.

Great photos.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
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It's sad that more people don't see how tasteless some of their actions are.

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.

(no subject)

from: wolfsilveroak
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
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Their inability to act with any form of tact or poise, taking a place of tremendous historical value
and using its painful history for their own gain is frustrating to witness.


And that is why we refuse to watch Ghost Adventures.

I am assuming that the numbered stakes is the cemetery, which makes me extremely sad as a Genealogist, as there are absolutely no names, dates, nothing to identify those poor people who were buried there so anonymously.

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
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In recent years a memorial has been erected, which has the names of those believed to be buried on the grounds (well over a thousand of them).
Sadly the names are not given their corresponding number, so though the memorial is a very nice token, it is still an empty one.

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Odrzut

(no subject)

from: yellowflesh
date: Nov. 1st, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
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This is simultaneously a wonderful and tragic post. The plants growing around the building lend it a very peaceful look but the history tells otherwise. Those ghost hunting shows really get on my nerves; it's just shallow thrills for people with nothing better to do than cheapen their heritage. Seeing the circle scrawled in the dust on the floor certainly doesn't say much for the IQ of the people who go on those hunts; I wonder if they're actually aware that it's a Star of David they've put down there?

Many thanks to you for sharing these brilliant photos and emphatic commentary. It's very uplifting to see someone who cares about exploring abandoned places for the right reasons!

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 Come One, Come All...

(no subject)

from: dark_fetus
date: Nov. 2nd, 2011 03:25 am (UTC)
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I'm not really sure what's up with the Star-of-David-agram...
You're right though, simple-minded people account for the majority of "urban explorers", and it is due to them that the term has been tainted.

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