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Thursday, April 30, 2009


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Lisa at Greeenbow

Yes, I always wonder why those lovely old houses are taken and loved by someone. It would be interesting to hear their stories.

Here, where I live, I know of an old house with a story. It was purchased by people that own the local radio stations. They renovated the potentially beautiful old house for their business. They did a marvelous job. A person could move right into it.

There is another big old two-story house that sits on a nice sized lot that was derilect and a family bought it. It now has children, toys pool and a nice garden as I am sure it originally had.

Actually both houses have landscaping. Not real original but it is much better than it was of course.

I just love seeing the come back of old houses and seeing what kind of garden pops up around them.

I have seen mentioned quite a bit about Detroits miseries of abandonment lately with the car industry having such a difficult time.


We made a collection of photos of wooden houses in New York State in the sixties.
Even then we were surprised that there were no regulations and no grants to take care of those gems.
Is that still the case?
Here in the UK old houses are ever so strictly regulated and when you are given a 2-star rating, like we were, you can't even alter the colour of the window frame paint. But you can apply for grants to help with upkeep.


Joco — some old houses and even whole neighborhoods are protected. And, as in your case, you can't make any changes — usually just on the outside though. Were the photos you took of derelict houses? Did you live in NY or where you just traveling?

As Lisa notes, this is a different situation with a number of cities having massive numbers of abandoned houses as their industries have been outsourced to places where labor is cheaper. People have no jobs, no money and now no place to live.

Sarah Osborne

One of my favourite David Francey songs is "Torn Screen Door" - although I hope I'm not off-topic for mentioning it, because it's about abandoned farms, not urban homes. But it does include the lyrics, "Had a life that they tried to save/ But the banks took it all away/ On a sign on a torn screen door/ 'Nobody lives here no more'."

It's a very short song - 1 min 38 s, but I can assure you, it follows me around...


Sarah — thanks for that link; the song is wonderful, if a bit of a heartbreaker. David Francey is new to me so I am going to listen further. John Mellencamp's song "Rain on the scarecrow/blood on the plow" is another one about the loss of family farms. I always found abandoned farmhouses sad but the scale of that trauma seemed more individual, especially compared to this mass urban crisis.


Very thought provoking and fascinating photos. Every town has a few, it seems. They are what my kids would call "haunted houses," but it's hard no to fantasize about sprucing one up and moving in.

Joni Webb

What a beautiful collection on images. there is beauty is everything!

and thank you so much for the shout out!! much appreciated, to be sure.


I really enjoyed the link. The pictures were haunting and beautiful at the same time. They reminded me of one of my favorite photographers, William Christenberry. Also, having grown up in Richmond, I appreciated the reference.

Julie Siegel

Thank you for writing about this Linda. And for broadening the definition of "landscape."

My dad's family was from Detroit (via Buffalo, NY) and even in the 1970s, when we last visited, it was painful. Can't imagine it now...


There is an amazing link on the Detroit Free Press website that takes you on a tour of the abandoned train station. It is an iconic Detroit landmark and the commentary is insightful as well. Here's the address (it's quite short but there is a commercial first):

House Designs

It’s sad to see these abandoned houses. Some are really beautifully designed.

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Words & Images

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