Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Abandoned Virginia

The idea of posting on this old ruin has been simmering away on my mental back burner for some time now, so when this week’s Photo Challenge theme came through, it spurred me to Just Write It.

We walk on this old country road. It’s on state-owned property and open to the public. Once in a while somebody on horseback will share the road with us but for the most part, we have it to ourselves.


Up ahead is a grove of trees. Not unusual except one of them is a big old magnolia which had to have been proudly planted years ago. No Virginia country home was without at least one, it seems.


And as we round the bend, the old house emerges:


And if I had a million dollars…..

Over the years we’ve been walking here, we’ve been witness to Nature with a capital “N” taking over. Those are Paulownia trees growing in front of the porch. Destructive vines and wild shrubbery are completely engulfing the structure. Here’s a scary bit: as I walked up to the house to take this picture there was a loud rustle and out of the second floor window flew a giant black bird – a turkey vulture or buzzard or something godawful.  And it perched ominously on the chimney as if to say “Just what are YOU doing here?”


Why am I suddenly thinking of Alfred Hitchcock?

Believe me, that thing was not in the least intimidated by me.  So I took a few more pictures with one eye on him at all times and was channeling some serious Tippi Hedren-esque angst.

Now the romantic in me wonders who the family was that last lived here. Did children romp through these desolate rooms? When did the last kiss happen? Who locked that front door last and walked away? And as custodian of an old house myself, I just hate to see this happening.


Sadly, this old manse is not alone in the abandonment category. We’ve lost countless old houses over the years to neglect, decay, and financial ruin. By the 1930s some prescient persons were alarmed enough to begin documenting what was left of these relics of the Old South. Over 7,000 photographs are now stored in the Library of Congress and the effort was sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York: The Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South. Here are just a couple; the first was in Louisiana, the second in Virginia:



Chatham, Fredericksburg vic., Stafford County, 1927

Two years ago on one of our walks, the gardener in me spied some withering daffodil blades in the front yard of our old ruin. Beloved Husband was dispatched to digging a few bulbs out of the concrete-hard ground to plant at The Barn. Minimal grumbling ensued and the following April, up they came – the most delicate and highly-scented daffodils in my garden. I did some research and they are “Cemetery Ladies.” Kind of apt, don’t you think? And I’m inordinately happy that some small part of that abandoned house is alive and well.


About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
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21 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

  1. Jeanie T. says:

    Very interesting, Barbara.  I love the old ruins of any building, especially homes.  I really like your writing style.Enjoy this beautiful sunshine. Hugs,Jeanie   


    • Barbara says:

      There is a bleak sort of beauty to them, isn’t there? Someday those shutters will be for sale in an antiques mall, I just know it. Thanks for reading, Jeanie, and the sunshine is beautiful…..if not warm. Brrrrrr.


  2. Diane Ahlberg says:

    How cool the old abandoned houses are- imagine the homes full of life with people coming and going and celebrations held in them! Would love to get inside and walk around- but seems that other creatures beat me to it. Like you I can imagine redoing but they look like major $$ and who and why would they be left alone all these years, at some point someone loved them to take the time to plant daffodils. What a find, what a shame.


    • Barbara says:

      Yes, Di. I thought about going inside to check out the status of crown moldings and/or mantels. But the deteriorating floor boards and the thought of a skunk kept me out. And now that bird seems to be living in the second story. I’ll just stick to worrying about my old house and leave this one to Mother Nature!


  3. Madam says:

    Love seeing these old places.


  4. Mary says:

    I have always wondered why families leave a home or ranch to complete ruin. The shutters do make this house seem like at one time it was a beauty…the mascara on the eyes. Can you dig through county records to find out the history on this property? I remember walking there and it is a tad bit scary even in the daytime. Great pictures especially the ominous bird!


    • Barbara says:

      You know, Mary, I think the answer as to why this happens is as varied as the houses themselves. And I love your mascara metaphor! You would not have gone anywhere near that place if that bird flew out near you. He was so much bigger than he appears.


  5. Mary Ellen Yost says:

    Enjoyed Blog and pictures!


  6. Chatham became the first house that the Garden Club of Virginia restored after it began Historic Garden Week in the late ’20s. The buzzard and the Cemetery Ladies are sadly appropriate symbols for your deteriorating neighbor.


    • Barbara says:

      Alison, that absolutely fascinates me. There are many photos of Chatham’s gardens on the Library of Congress site and I wonder if they were after the restoration. I have a few of those garden photos pinned on my “Old Piles in Black and White” board on Pinterest. That is such a great tidbit, thanks.


  7. dorothy says:

    Shutters would make a great addition to the potting shed make over. Think of all the history that would add to your place. Think you should check out inside before warm weather arrives and varmints move in…want to hear more.


  8. srudin123 says:

    I remember walking here with you and the boys. Didn’t we even try to jog a little during that stomp? (back when I foolishly thought that I could run more than a block without passing out). Not sure if you know this but Gary has this love of exploring old abandoned property. He would love this place and next time we visit maybe we should take him here.


  9. Dianna says:

    Oh, my, what a gorgeous old home. I, too, always wonder about families who lived there when I see an abandoned old home. I loved your phrase: the last kiss, who locked the front door the last time…. Poignant!
    Thanks for commenting on my blog. I’m going to spend some time here soon, checking out more of your posts. So glad to meet another Virginia blogger. Drop me an email and let me know what part of Virginia you’re in. I’m in Smithfield!


  10. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Room | Silver in the Barn

  11. Jasmin Chat says:

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    timee here at web, except I know I am getting familiarity all the time by reading such
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