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:
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?”
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:
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.