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Then and Now

rodney-then-and-now

This incredible image (top) from the 1950s or 60s depicts one of my favorite Old Southern towns, Rodney Mississippi. (Photographer Unknown)

The first building you see on the left is no longer standing and the brick building in the center of the image is being dismantled this week. The church at the far end of this picturesque scene still stands, and was surveyed this week by a structural engineer, but how much longer it will be there is anyones guess.

rodney-baptist6

The ever-changing Mississippi River sits very close to this once-bustling town and its waters reek havoc on these old structures whenever flood levels are reached.

The incredible history of this town is kept alive by the efforts of a group who works to keep the buildings cleaned and through the tales of those who had the opportunity to live there. But sadly, Rodney is a special place with an uncertain future.

[Jefferson County, MS]

No longer serving

GA BBQ 1

[Camden County, GA]

According to locals, Moody’s roadside BBQ stand was a favorite for years, both to travelers and neighbors alike. I haven’t been able to track down when it opened, or when they served their last plate of supper, but it certainly is well missed by those who frequented it.

GA BBQ 2

GA BBQ 3

[Vintage Photo c. 1960’s-70’s from unidentified source, shared from Vanishing South Georgia]

Relocated for restoration

Berrien Mayors 1904

[Berrien County, GA c. 1904]

Built around 1904, the mayor of a nearby town lived in this home, which was formerly situated within the city limits.

A relative of the original family has purchased and relocated it to this beautiful location with plans of restoring her.

*Thanks to the Vanishing South Georgia project for tracking down information on the history of this awesome old home*

Enveloped in history…and Spanish Moss

lulu_croft

[Union County, FL c. early 1900’s]

Once called the Green General Store, this building was located in a nearby town in Columbia County, then moved to this spot by Nelson Croft in the 1950’s. It was then used to store tobacco and is presently used by its owners for storage as well.

Ain’t no Haint’s here

haint_shack2

[Alachua County, FL c. 1900’s]

This haint colored shack has always been a favorite of mine, despite its desparate need for some new paint. This color is popular throughout the South, but has a storied past that many aren’t aware of.

Check out the history of the color (or range of colors) called ‘Haint’ blue!

Protecting the Past

…or why I don’t share specific location information…

doc_house5

[This once beautiful home was cleared out overnight by scrappers who took every fixture, piece of woodwork and artifact they could salvage. Sumter County, FL c. late 1800’s]

At least twice a week, I am emailed from a friend I-have-not-yet-had-the-pleasure-to-meet about directions to a particular location or how to find forgotten locations in this area or that. Understandably, many are curious and want to see these places for themselves; I felt the same when I first saw images of abandoned places. I immediately wanted to see them for myself; I wanted to take their pictures, to feel their stories, and to see what had been left behind for myself.

But I quickly found, as most of you will if you start this kind of project, that many photographers and historians in this niche are very protective over locations and are often reluctant to share much location information. There are many reasons for this guarded sensibility, but I would like to take a moment to explain my thoughts behind it with those of you who are as compelled by these places as I am.

Over the past 3+ years working on this project, I have seen multiple properties vandalized, looted, and in some cases burned. It breaks my heart to think that someone might be callous enough to destroy a historic property for their own selfish reasons, but I must acknowledge that such unfortunate individuals exist. With nearly 6,000 followers on my main social media outlet (Far Enough Photo on Facebook), I know only a very small percentage of this audience personally and although I am certain that no one reading this now has bad intentions, I simply could not imagine being responsible for the demise of any of these properties by sharing specific location information carelessly. In order to provide necessary context to my stories, I will (almost) always include county and state information but I request that my contacts private message me for any further location specifics in order to protect the (remaining) integrity of these places.

islandgroveschool_ruin

[Rural Florida School- Abandoned and then destroyed by vandals and squatters. Alachua County, Fl c. 1930’s]

babcock_graffitit

[One of numerous pieces of graffiti found inside an abandoned South Carolina asylum; construction on this building began before the Civil War]

On top of all of these concerns, I have to consider the privacy of the private property owners. Despite these structures being abandoned, all of the property I photograph is still (in one way or another) privately owned. I hope everyone can understand why a property owner might not want thousands of strangers knowing that their great-grandmothers historic home is abandoned and the address/GPS locations to it. Besides the concerns about theft and vandalism, these owners have to be concerned with liability, squatters  and rural neighbors who wouldn’t appreciate the increased traffic.

starke_1

[Abandoned home now mostly destroyed and boarded after locals began loitering and vandalizing the interior. Bradford County, FL c. late 1800’s]

phifer_graffiti

[I guess I have a different idea of when it is appropriate to use foul language. Graffiti on a long forgotten Antebellum home in North Florida c. 1840’s]

Each of these sites were at some point important to the people that built them. These places represented their desire to establish roots in a new region; their need to build their connection with the land they lived on and their hopes for the future. It is my job to find them, to uncover their stories and to share them with you, but just as important is my job to keep these places protected from those who might not be able to appreciate the significance of them as you and I can.

IMG_1820

[Graffiti on the interior wall of an historic abandoned Methodist Church. Ben Hill County, GA c. 1870’s]

Abandoned Auditorium

[The interior* wall of the auditorium of this school. The roof was burned by vagrants and 90% of the remaining building is covered in graffiti. Duval County, FL c. early 1900’s]

phifer_vandals

[On first visit to this home in 2010, all windows were in tact and the interior was in decent shape; today all windows have been shattered, the inside has been covered in spray paint, every fixture has been stolen and a small fire has jeopardized the rear of the structure. Alachua County, FL c. 1930’s]

Instead of providing GPS locations, addresses and satellite images, I would rather inspire each of you to get out and find these places for yourselves. I started this project without even ONE specific location and within a month I had found 10 within my county. Because I cannot be everywhere at once and there is so much to see, I hope to encourage each of you to get out to your respective areas and to explore the incredible history that you will find in your own backyards.

Please check back later in the week for my blog post on how to find forgotten spots in your own area!

60 Years of Solitude

As I plow through 2,000 photos from the past two months of travel, I keep going back to this odd little spot on the map that I encountered in rural California. Just outside the world-renowned wine producing areas in Napa and Sonoma counties lies a long-forgotten town. Once a stop for quicksilver miners, Pope Valley is spotted with historic yet peculiar landmarks from another time. Mostly uninhabited today, much of what I encountered was abandoned and seemed out of place. I am working to find more history on the area while getting the photos ready for a full blog post.

In the meantime, one of the most interesting objects I found was this vehicle at the end of an unpaved dirt mountain road with nothing else nearby. I am almost positive this is a 1950’s (maybe late 1940’s model) but I’m not sure of the make. Anybody out there on the interwebs know what kind of car this is?

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