Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Haikyo: Abandoned Places (Tokyo Times Blog; Nashville Nine)

Good morning!

Well, I straight lied to you about not writing about more scary stuff today. Hope you can find it in your heart to forgive this fear-seeker. I found the coolest website yesterday afternoon while reading an article on the Huffington Post about an art installation/public theater space built using abandoned home material from a house in York, Alabama. While that feature was interesting, the slideshow at the bottom of the article, having nothing to do with the art installation but some connection re: abandoned places, REALLY caught my eye.

Doesn't this look exactly like a castle? Like a wolfman or a consumptive heiress or a plucky governess with ghost children for wardens might live in this very place? The interior is just as spooky as the exterior:

So perfectly abandoned!

Are these stills from a Dario Argento movie? No! They're real life shots from the home of a wealthy turn-of-the-century politician in Japan. Throughout the elegantly emptied rooms, left-behind items include a television, an ice box, sake cups...even, most unnervingly, a pair of false teeth! You can see the rest of the photos from this set here, on the blog from which they originated. Once I saw that there were more under the subheading "Haikyo/Ruins", you know I couldn't just stop there. Bring on the lonely, the once-ornate, those places in a sumptuous state of neglect!
An abandoned clinic (original post here)
Haikyo is a Japanese term meaning "ruins" (sidenote: the most desolate words in English sound so much more pleasant in Japanese-- samuzamu, which sounds like it should be afternoon children's programming, is actually one word for "desolate" in that language). Lee Chapman, a photographer living in Japan since 1988, has assembled lots of fascinating material, period, on his blog "Tokyo Times" (http://www.wordpress.tokyotimes.org/) but what really impressed me was the aforementioned subsection of the blog of photos of abandoned places (hence, haikyo). I always think of Japan as being crowded, clean, efficient, and streamlined in their national urban design, so it's kind of jarring to see these forsaken properties in such extreme disarray and destitution.

Abandoned hotel (original post here)
Seeing these and other urban exploration photos, aren't you just shocked by how much there is just laying fallow in the world? Enough that entire buildings, homes, factories, amusement parks, asylums...WHATEVER...can be left to ruin, much more easily than they could be converted or re-purposed for the years and years of use that they obviously still have left in them? These spaces got me thinking about one literally close to home. Very close to my street, there are the ruins of a state owned Aged Masonic Home and School for Boys. Both buildings date back to the turn of the century, and were active governmental and civic agencies until the late eighties'/early nineties'. Here's a photo the Nashville Scene ran in this article, published in December of 2009:

Pretty serious, right? The site rated the "Nashville Nine" that year, a heartwrenching list of the pitiful few historical properties spared the wrecking ball in my hometown, but left to rot and ruin. The description from that list's publication in Nashville Business Journal reads like this:
Home for Aged Masons/Masonic School, R.S. Gass Boulevard and Hart Lane, Inglewood. This three-story limestone building constructed in 1913-1915 and the nearby boy’s school are the only surviving buildings from a larger complex dating to the early 20th century, when the Tennessee Masons provided a campus to house widows, orphans and the aged in the Masonic family. Designed by the Nashville architectural firm of Asmus & Norton, the Colonial Revival-style home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 
The State of Tennessee purchased the property in 1941 for use as a tuberculosis hospital, but it was vacated in the 1990s. 
See what I mean? Still vacant. There was a larger, absolutely terrifying looking building right close to the road on Hart Lane when I was growing up (it's easily within walking distance...but why would you want to walk there! Ghosts partout!), but it's since been torn down. I can remember when I was little getting the ultra-heebies thinking about ghoulish things mingling with dust motes and flaked paint, to the point that I wouldn't look at the many-paned, high, narrow windows as we drove down the hill toward home for fear that some uncanny  face would be peering back at me. Needless to say, I read way too many Tales from the Crypt comic books, then AND now, but it wreaked havoc on my young imagination! With all the attention being paid things east of the Cumberland River (a MAJOR climate shift, attitudinally, from my high school years in which people would outright refuse to pick me up from my house after dark in case they got lost "over there"), I hope the two remaining buildings get a sliver of attention or an ounce of cooperation for the preservationists who would like to help rather than be helpless in this building's future.

Mitchell House at Castle Heights, in Lebanon, TN, after its renovation.
The building my dad and I went in was just north of this on the same campus (source)
So! Do you have any spooky, abandoned interiors that have caught your fancy lately? What's the most terrifying real life abandoned place you've set foot in? My dad and I made it halfway into an abandoned Victorian house on the campus of Lebanon's Castle Heights Military Academy, circa 1995, waaay before it was renovated and brought back to life as a restaurant (now closed?) and civic city center. Both of us being big fans of the movie Ghost Story, we snuck in as far as the parlor, seeing that the only item in the house was an old upright piano, and got too scared to continue! "I wanted to get out of there before something started playing that piano!", in the immortal words of my Pappy. See! There's a saved abandoned place! Here's hoping the rest of these buildings get some new life someday, too!

That's all for today...you may or may not hear something scary from me tomorrow! I guess I'm in a weird mood in this final stretch of wedding planning, haha! Take care, and I'll see you then.


  1. Here's a story:my late husband was someone who LOVED to poke around in abandoned buildings; he had many stories about doing so (his tale of rambling the underground tunnels of the abandoned Massey-Ferguson factory in Toronto was gripping). But the best one took place in a small clutch of condemned Victorian 3-story houses on Spadina Circle. He told me he actually tore off some boards to get into them, and as he was poking around one night up on the third or second floor, he went into a room, and heard a disembodied voice say "Get out of here!" He disregarded it as a figment of his imagination, but moments later he heard it again, loud and clear: "GET OUT NOW!". He did so- and right on his heels, as he left the room, the entire floor collapsed behind him and all went crashing down. right down to the cellar! Had he stayed where he was, he might have been badly hurt or killed and of course NOBODY would have thought to come looking for him there!

  2. Yikes!!! That Japanese one freaks me out. I think I watch too many horror movies, because I very logically in my mind said, "of course, his soul was probably just overtaken by a water ghost."



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