Today I bring you a few pictures, including several doorways, one door, a bunch of rubble, and a sad story.
Don’t get me wrong, I take no pleasure in the demolition of a building that could (should) have been saved. But what is revealed in the process of demolition can be remarkable and weirdly beautiful.
It’s a chance to see inside a building that you might otherwise never have seen. And it’s not just the stuff you would have seen if you had gone inside when it was still whole and functional.
If you catch the demolition on the right day, at the right time, you can also see the structure, bits and pieces of how it was put together when it was originally built, as well as subsequent additions and changes.
The foundation is visible, you can look under the floors, you can see inside jagged broken walls, look at plaster and lathe and brick and tile and twisted rebar and everything. (If you don’t get chased away. )
There is also something about these places that appeals to the little kid me, the kid in thin, cheap sneakers and dirty shorts with nothing to do but explore.
This is a kid who is brave enough to climb around in a pile of demolition debris, who can see worlds in the empty spaces and piles of brick and lumber.
She can imagine all kinds of adventures in a place like this, which could be anything because it has stopped being what it was. This kid who loves the disorder and chaos of it all – she will spend the whole day here, if she can.
The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that there is another reason why a building that’s on it’s way to oblivion is so compelling to me. Looking at these spaces, the way they are halfway here and halfway gone, is like looking at something out of a dream, or a fairy tale.
Take, for example, a door, freestanding, almost floating, with nothing around it. It’s slightly surreal, like something magical and maybe a little scary could happen if you go through.
Snapping back to reality, it’s worth noting that the recent history of this particular building – a church, built around the turn of the century – is very sad, and the saddest part is what happened to it over the course of several years.
It was owned by someone who didn’t live in the area and was not up to the task of owning an old church. Neighborhood people and preservationists tried to save it, but it ultimately succumbed to death by a thousand cuts. First was a series of demolitions, intended to save what could be saved (therapeutic demolition, a term I had never heard before) and then they just took down what was deemed beyond saving. Which was everything.
The church bell was saved. Today, it’s a vacant lot.
(Posted in response to last week’s WP Discover Challenge – The Story Behind a Door – this is a variation on something that I posted in 2011, at another blog, in another life.)