The Cenacle

Hello LJ and happy 2020!
I'm going to TRY to be more active this year with posting. Anyway, here's a new one.

Long dark halls reached out limbs of cold brick. In the air floated a strange aroma, an uncomfortably sweet mixture of carnations and a damp decomposition. Off of the central corridors were chambers as large as they were empty, and within them ornate mantles framed massive fireplaces. Caked in dust, long extinguished, and from which cold winter air flowed. The chill was biting and stung any exposed skin it caressed. Down more enshadowed halls stood a singular point of light - The chapel. Once magnificent and proud, now forsaken as the rest of the estate had come to be.
Man-made structures contain in them incalculable unseen things. From the very moment they come to exist, buildings slowly absorb the histories of not just the locality in which they stand, but the personal tales of each and every person who had interacted with and within it through the years. Over decades and centuries, the architecture comes to serve a far deeper purpose than that of its initial design, holding time itself within its geometry.
This awareness of generations, of our own very fleeting moment in history, is far easier to perceive when a place has fallen silent. Left without use, we can often use these abandoned structures as points of reflection, seeing a place clearly without the distraction of daily life which once consumed its halls. To see the forest as well as the trees. The Cenacle of Mount Kisco, New York, is a place that will forever exist as a reminder to how time can shape a place, and perhaps more significantly, just how temporary it all is.

This grand convent began its life as a far smaller building, though small is relative in this case – The roots of this winged structure spread outward from the central mansion, which once stood alone on this wooded ridge, its name was Rose Hill.
The original manor was constructed atop a rolling parcel of land in 1904, eventually becoming home to famous showman of the day Billy Rose, who bestowed upon it the name 'Rose Hill'. In 1956 a massive fire ravaged the estate, gutting a majority of the structure and decimating the personal effects of Billy Rose. When interviewed by a local paper after the ordeal Billy plainly stated “I lost a lot of things that can’t be replaced with money.” Of those things he was referring to was a collection of seven original paintings created for him by his close friend Salvador Dali. Some time thereafter the property was sold off to 'The Convent of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle', who rehabilitated and expanded the initial mansion for use as a convent with a final size of some 70,000 square feel. Much of the additional space was utilized for classroom and dormitory-style living quarters. The most notable portion of the 50s expansion was the creation of a beautiful chapel which came to be a hallmark of the property. However, as we previously mentioned – Everything is temporary.

The convent eventually sold off the property as well, and it changed hands several times throughout the decades. Always though, officially or not, the property retained the moniker of 'The Cenacle'. During a period of vacancy in the late 1970s, David Krebs, manager for the band Aerosmith organized the rental of the entire building, with the hopes of utilizing it as a sanctuary away from the influence of drugs, so that they may compose with clear minds and bodies. This proved futile, however, as Steven Tyler comments upon in his autobiography Does the Noise In My Head Bother You?, "Drugs can be imported, David...we have our resources. Dealers deliver! Hiding us away in a three-hundred room former convent was a prescription for total lunacy." At the end of their endeavors the band created the album Draw the Line, which was received poorly for numerous reasons, with most criticism seeming to stem from the group's rampant drug abuse at the time.
The last organization to call The Cenacle home was 'Our Lady of Mount Kisco', who operated the grounds as a retreat center. After they vacated the building in 2011 the grounds sat more-or-less without use. There were some grand redevelopment plans which would pop up from time to time, stirring up a bit of fanfare before disappearing into the void from which they came. All the while The Cenacle sat, its century of stories, memories, and lessons moldering away in the woods.
Buildings grow wise with age, and they are not selfish with the knowledge. An old building will freely impart what it has learned to whoever may care enough to pay listen. It's a mutual exchange though, where one may glean knowledge, and the building may garner respect. And with this respect may come safety. Safety from neglect, from being forgotten. Unfortunately, any stories or lessons which The Cenacle had to share were lost with it in the spring of 2019, when it was quickly and unceremoniously leveled to make way for a proposed housing development that will one day sprawl across the hilltop.

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Waterbury Brass

Hello LJ, hope all is well. It seems every time I log in the home page here is different in some way, which is good I suppose, as perhaps its an effort on LJ's part to attract more users. Here's the latest location from our (my partner and my) website. I plan to always share our entries here, because LJ really did help us hone our skills, both in writing and in photography/video. The community was (and still is?) a far different place than the toxic mire which most social media has become. Glad it's still kickin' and hopefully a renascence is somewhere in the future. All that said, on to the post — 

Long ago this region was founded upon brass, an industrious calling  which found a great many factories sprouting along the banks of Mad  River, replacing the tall marsh grasses and wildflower as it winds  through the city of Waterbury, Connecticut. The backbone of the city  remains to this day, though it has long been broken, now little more  than weathering brick-red protrusions which stand above the shallow  skyline.

From atop the bluff which the abandoned Holy Land theme park  sits you can truly see the scope of how industrious Waterbury was  during its prime, an era which can be more-or-less pinpointed to have  began when the city was contracted to supply the United States military  with the buttons needed for their uniforms during the War of 1812.  Quickly the city became known as the brass capital of the country, a  title which it held for well over a century, until the eventual collapse  of the city's brass industry, which was all but a memory to most by the  late 1970's.

We visited several sites on this chilly spring day, but focused  primarily on the home of the once-famous Waterbury Button Company from  the 1840's until its eventual purchase and re-branding to Waterbury  Companies Inc. in 1945. The company still exists today, though in a  markedly different form, with its headquarters across town from its  former home on the edge of Mad River.

What greeted us within the hulls of the old factories was not unexpected  - Severely decayed wood hung on loose supports which dangled from  equally decayed brick walls. The steel skeletons and fireproof  stairwells of the buildings were, by and large, the sole elements  keeping these structures from utter collapse. All around were signs of  vagrants, heaps of trash, and graffiti several generations thick. Not  much remains of the industrious purpose which once called these streets  home, or the American-made pride which emanated from it. In its stead we  find literal mounds of trash and disused needles. The symbolism is  obvious, and thus we see no point in dwelling upon it here.

Room after room, corridor after corridor, we experienced the same scene -  Destruction, both man-made and natural, dotted with a few faded  reminders of what once was. A repetitive and sobering pulse of ruin.  However, in one of the larger structure we came upon an unexpected  sight. At the bottom of a stairwell, just barely visible in the murky  shadows, we spotted the shoulders of a torso protruding above the  debris. Luckily this day we were joined by both Lerch and Vacant New Jersey, long-time colleagues of ours, who we have joined in numerous outings  through the years. Together we stepped outside into the daylight to  gather our thoughts, and prepare ourselves for the very real possibility  that we were about to uncover a corpse in the derelict warehouse  building. We decided that the best course of action was to immediately  return and check to see if the person was alive, and if they were, see  if they required aid. Walking back up the dark hallway we hoped against  reality that the body would somehow have vanished during our short  hiatus, but it remained. Long ago the stairs had been removed from this  stairwell, and the landing which the torso now lay in was a drop of  several feet onto a questionable pile of rubble and broken glass. We  approached the edge of the cement flooring and yelled down, preying for a  response. Silence. We yelled again, this time informing them that we  were not police, but if they were indeed hurt, we would have to call it  in. This garnered a reply, mumbled as it were. Slowly the body before us  stood up and dusted themselves off. 

We helped him climb out of the hole, while he explained that he thought  we were security and had hid away as to not be discovered. He then  hugged us, and thanked us for being concerned enough to make sure he was  safe. After a few minutes of small talk he said he was taking our  chance meeting as a sign to move on and stay away from the property for  good. His words seemed genuine, and we hope he did manage to find  himself in a better way since our meeting.

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Grande Failings

Lost places, like this shuttered resort, stand as unique objects of fascination for many reasons. Oftentimes it's because these locations have come to exist in a state contrary to their constructed roles. In this case, we may find initial captivation in the absolute silence where thousands once gathered with their families. Beyond that though, there is something arguably more profound which ties all these places together. A common thread which entwines every abandoned structure and property – Time. Human history, all history really, crests and recedes like the waterline along the shore. Popular culture rises and falls, profitability rises and falls, communities rise and fall, nations rise and fall. The waters of time endlessly rise and fall. And after the tide has retreated these places remain in the wake, like cast-off shells upon a beach.

Some time after our arrival a large storm began to stir at the outskirts of the valley. It came on slowly at first, as the sunny day gradually greyed over. Eventually though, the storm gathered force and with it a purple-hued darkness which stood as a wall along the edge of the valley. There it remained though, held at bay by strong updrafts which perpetually carry through the basin. Frustrated it loudly thundered at the edge of the ridges around us, forever tumbling upon itself without gaining ground. At times it looked not unlike a great obsidian wave breaking upon a bluff. Occasionally its cries shook the walls of the old resort, but even though the outlying mountains were ringed with near black, above us was never more than a haze of light grey. The air became cool, as the warmth was sucked away by the storm-front, but we remained dry at the center of the turmoil around us. As it tends to be with storms of this force though, the events were short lived. In little time the thundering from the mountains fell silent, and the grey of the sky dissolved back to blue. What just moments ago was all-encompassing, now may as well have never existed at all. Much like the decaying resort we had taken shelter within.

The original buildings on these grounds opened to the public in 1903, with much of what is currently standing dating from the 1950s and '60s, including the distinctive tower building which rises high above all else. By the time the resort was shuttered it had served the region for over a century. Considering the long lifespan of the old resort makes the grounds today all the more sombre. Generations of families vacationed here. Parents bringing their children, just as their own parents had brought them. There is no doubt that the silence which now embraces this property is saturated with memories of those who knew it in far happier times than these.

The original buildings on these grounds opened to the public in 1903, with much of what is currently standing dating from the 1950s and '60s, including the distinctive tower building which rises high above all else. By the time the resort was shuttered it had served the region for over a century. Considering the long lifespan of the old resort makes the grounds today all the more sombre. Generations of families vacationed here. Parents bringing their children, just as their own parents had brought them. There is no doubt that the silence which now embraces this property is saturated with memories of those who knew it in far happier times than these.

Some places cry out their stories, their histories, to those who visit. You may have felt this for yourself when visiting a site of some significance. Places steeped with history tend to exude it in a way that isn't easily explained. It's as if simply laying your hand upon the cold walls of an old building helps you to better understand it. Perhaps it's simply human instinct to reach out and touch something you wish to learn more about. A tactile sense somehow linked to our minds, left over from eons past. A sensibility which we have collectively evolved beyond, but endures nonetheless. That voice was absent here.

Throughout all these halls, quarters, and common spaces, no grand proclamations of the past were to be found. All that remained were the low moans of a tired building, pitch shadows, and a deep-seated rot. Numerous items remained from the heydays of the resort, but coming upon those remnants felt less like glimpsing cherished mementos, and more like one was rummaging through the possessions of a deceased person. As we toured the grounds it seemed as if this is a place was not only utterly given up on, but that it had also given up.

In the end though, it's reasonable to think that this place never had a voice to begin with, not a singular one anyway. This resort lived as a hub for others to create their own stories and memories within its walls, and by that accord the last of its life went from this property the moment the final guest checked out nearly a decade ago.

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Indian Road

There is a city that sits on the Canadian border and has an entire street of boarded up homes. The city is slated to begin demolishing these homes next year. Unfortunately I was unable to go inside any of these houses.


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Abandoned Farmhouse / Southern Ontario


So this house was an interesting find. I noticed it in 2015 and decided to take a look. It's still there, sitting on it's own on a stretch of farmland. It stands out like a sore thumb and is not hard to find. I don't know the story of this house. I wish I did. It's an interesting place and must have once been a beautiful home. There is evidence of bee keeping on the property.
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The Selma Plantation

Far off, at the crest of a wild-grown field, stood a faded, weathered edifice. Ivy-wrapped and ashy white it lingered like a ghost over the housing development which had come to nest in the knolls below. Even from a great distance you could recognize that the old mansion had seen much, and from out across the meadow of tall grass and briar it invites you to come closer, to listen to its tale of life and death, and life again. To know the story of the Selma Plantation.

As we made our slow approach, and as the old structure became increasingly clear, and more minute details came better into view, the ambiance of the property began to turn. No longer did this old manor seem a looming phantom, it was in fact much more humble, much more melancholy, like an elderly person left without a family. Abandoned with only their thoughts, and no one to share them with. Around the side of the old manor a peeling door stood ajar.

Within, the air was dense. Not with dust or debris, but the atmospheric weight of a house which had witnessed countless generations of people pass through its halls, and recalled each one with clarity. All this history was held there still, palpable, coursing through the fibers of the lath beyond the plaster. A lifeblood of sorts which served to sustain a house which many may have viewed as long-dead.

Wallpaper hung in strips from cracked and tired walls, decorative woodwork adorned doorways to dark chambers of grime and murk. The oldest of these walls date from the turn of the 19th century. In a past existence they formed a beautiful home which endured upon this Virginian hilltop for near a century before surrendering to a terrible fire. For years thereafter a burned-out ruin at the crest of a field was all that remained of the former home. The walls that survived the blaze stood resolute though, as nature began to reclaim the once-proud property. After the passing of some years a new, grand, mansion began construction upon that same scorched hilltop, with the surviving walls of the original home incorporated into the design. This final form, completed in 1902, is what stands to this day.

An immense main hall was, by any metric, the backbone of the mansion. Three stories of balconies formed the master staircase which spiraled around the perimeter of the pillared hall. At the center stood a deteriorating grand piano, crooked and out-of-tune, a reflection of the manor which it called home. On the floors above were extensive chambers, many with magnificent fireplaces, all empty and weathered. So barren had the house come to be that every sound one made echoed seemingly without end as the noise bounced back and forth off towering ceilings and through arched doorways.

This estate, and the surrounding 200+ acres, existed as a private residence until the mid-1970s when it was sold off, and converted into a quite impressive wedding and event venue. This endeavor lasted until the early 2000s when the property was sold yet again. This time the land surrounding the mansion was sub-divided off for new construction, and the mansion was left deserted. As the years progressed new homes began to appear on the landscape, and the mansion watched on, every year slipping further and further into decay and the ever-encroaching wood-line. A once-proud estate, now home to the few buzzards who had taken up roost in the attic rafters.

As we readied for our departure a storm began to slowly roll in. In many ways it seemed to suiting. The rain and greyed-out skies matched the dismal ambiance which hung upon us as we made our way off the property. Mud caked our boots and our clothes were soaked through by the time we reached our vehicle, but the weather was a far off thought. Selma had struck a nerve that now seemed raw and unable to heal – How could a place so steeped in history be thrown away as it were? What does it say for us as a culture when we can build dozens of new homes a stone's throw from a historic mansion, on the very land which was once its property, yet take no effort toward its preservation?

Time passes.

One evening, while going through emails, we came upon a link. It led us to a Facebook page titled 'Selma Mansion Rebirth', and proved to be exactly what the name implies – A page dedicated to showcasing the rehabilitation of the old Selma Plantation. To see the neglect scraped away, and the home once again cherished, was uplifting in a way that is terribly difficult to articulate. Surely many people know the feeling, but it seems that the English language fails to convey it in a meaningful way. To see a building seemingly written off to rot in the forest, brought back to life in such a way that it now exists not only as a wonderful home, but as an example that others may point to in future preservation efforts, is something we truly hope to see more of. In many ways saving the Selma mansion may well save other blighted properties in years to come, and that is something we cannot praise enough.

There is an expression which goes 'if walls could talk'. When looking back upon the Selma grounds from the vantage point of today, what was it that those walls were saying as they slowly moldered on that hilltop for all those years? We would like to think they were quietly repeating, “We are not dead, simply waiting.”

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The Enchanted Forest

In these woods lie the ruins of a kingdom long fallen. Dotted between the trees can be found battle-worn fragments of the domain which once claimed these lands. They stand sparsely in number and frail in form,  reduced to nothing more than gnarled echoes of what they once were. Time has laid upon these lands an unrelenting siege, and through it, a new kingdom has arisen. One of trees and briar. In a previous era, under a  much different reign, things were brighter here. There was a life well beyond that of the woodland animals which now roam these parts. A home to fables and legends, a kingdom built upon a bedrock of fantasy. It was called the Enchanted Forest.

Opened in 1955, this bygone theme-park once sought to offer a travel destination to families seeking something a bit more fanciful. Claiming a  tract of property in Ellicott City, Maryland, a vibrant castle arose surrounded by rides and attractions based upon nursery rhymes and fairy-tales, a dominion which eventually spread out over 50 acres. At the peak of its popularity, this province of whimsy saw some 300,000  visitors passing through the castle gates every summer.

We ourselves never knew this past existence, as our visit to these grounds took place long after the fall. For decades the property had sat without rule, save for that of nature. The few holdouts which remained had long lost their colors. Faded and peeling they stood less as relics and more as somber reminders of far better times than these. The canopy of the now-wild forest had grown to shadow much of the old park,  replacing the light with dappled darkness. A lagoon, once clear and flowing now sat motionless, covered in a thick layer of emerald algae.  The clamor of life has all but ceased in these woods, leaving in its stead a fierce nothingness that is both nowhere and all-surrounding.  Still, at the center of all this Cinderella's castle still stood.  Broken, distorted, and draped in ivy.

Though the forest may have won the day in Ellicott City, overrunning  what remained of the old park and returning it to the earth, it could  not claim victory over the spirit of the Enchanted Forest - Beginning in  2005 preservation efforts began on the besieged property, spearheaded  by the 'Enchanted Forest Preservation Society', who ventured in to save  and restore whatever they could reclaim from the devastated kingdom.  Today the Enchanted Forest lives on, standing in renewed magnificence off-site at 'Clark's Elioak Farm',  which is located close to where the original park once stood. Many of the rescued pieces have been fully restored, and are on display for a  new generation of families to enjoy. Whatever did remain on the original grounds were razed in 2015.

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If you want to see the entire set you can do so on our site HERE

Aphotic Academia

Is this community still kicking?
I tried to post here (on LJ in general) a few times throughout 2018 and each time it either crashed out completely, never loaded, or erased the entry prior toposting, so I gave up for a while.
Until now anyway.

So the place I'm sharing today is a beautiful, and honetsly quite foreboding, public school building which dates from 1927. I'm trying out the new (to me) LJ editor, so please bear with me here...

Aphotic Academia

Rows of rusting lockers line a corridor draped by shadow so deep you feel as if you could reach out and lay your hands upon it. Above, anemic skies distort and bend upon themselves as a light mist begins to fall. In through some unseen window enters a steady flow of cold spring air, it carries with it the bitter aroma of scorched plastic. Sirens wail continuously from some far off place, muffled by the brick exterior of the building to little more than a repetitive and endless drone. A background noise which carried through every corridor of the three-story school.

Within the classrooms there were no desks. This is most typical of shuttered schools, as districts often re-purpose them elsewhere, but here their absence seemed more significant. All around the desk-less rooms lay scattered materials from its past as place of learning - Assignments chalked up, graded papers hung on bulletin boards, prom photos strewn on shelves, and inspirational posters abound. But no desks. Just highly-decorated empty chambers to meander through or stand in the center of, wondering what knowledge these rooms might hold from the near-century of lectures which have transpired herein.

In the halls uncollected papers lay strewn the floor, books sit stacked in strange partially-toppled piles, and posters beckoning your vote in the upcoming school elections still cling to windows and doors. On the ground level is found the old auditorium, at one time the focal-point of activities at the school, it now stagnates. Cavernous, empty, and uncomfortably quiet, much like the entirety of the old school has come to be.

Outside the world too is shaded. We carefully walk through the tall grasses which were once a schoolyard, the cuffs of our pants becoming evermore sodden and cold as we proceed. Though early spring, it is obvious that winter has not yet fully gone from here. All around us exists a murky haze that hangs damply upon greyish-brown earth. Unkempt branches of dormant trees stretch out toward the sunless sky, others toward the brick walls of the massive old school. We stand now just miles from a major city, yet there is not a soul to be seen. Masses of fog periodically roll in over the streets and empty sidewalks, wrapping the school in a pulsing miasma. There was something strange about the fog though, it had an unfamiliar nature to it, and brought with it a sour and unplaceable odor. Only later did we discover that the fog we experienced wasn't actually fog at all, but wisps of smoke carried low by winds passing over a massive fire at a recycling plant blocks away. In a way the toxic clouds seemed suiting - The property of the school and the blocks surrounding it were colorless, desolate, and lifeless. Against all this though, we always shared the uneasy feeling of having eyes upon us. Likely this was just a result of our minds wary from the cold, dreary day. Or, perhaps the shadows of those halls held more secrets than they cared to reveal.

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Weasels Ripped My Flesh

Holyland, USA

I'm not sure if this community even exists anymore, so I feel like I'm posting in a ghost town—how apropos!

I found this creepy video tour of the abandoned amusement park, Holyland, USA; and I thought it would be a good place to post it.

I then found this fake commercial for the Christian-themed amusement park that was made by members of one of my favorite comedy troupes in the 80s, Chucklehead.

Abandoned House in Poland

Not each place is worth more than one visit, especially if it’s just a small abandoned village house. However, I visited this decaying cabin three times and being in the area wouldn’t miss an opportunity to go there again. So what makes this site so special? Still cosy rooms coloured with the shades of decay? Lots of furniture inside letting imagine the life there? Or soft curtains of cobwebs which seems to be trying to hide the gloomy interior from the brightness outside? Let’s stop torturing our curiosit and open the old wooden doors.