Posts Tagged ‘Suburban Decay’

Sometime Sunday night, April 13-14th, Allenhurst Allenhurst had caught fire. Just as Lonsdale, only one half of Allenhurst stands, charred and wet.

Backing up to the former Bridgeton Nursing Home, this house was the only house in the Gist-area portion of Northern Carrollton. This area was beginning to clear out while I was in high school, and was emptied well before our final section. Yet, one white bungalow with its bright red door remained rooted to the scene. You could see this home just off Brampton, a major vein through Carrollton. I remember seeing the owners outside quite often as I’d drive past. They spent much time outside, and although I didn’t know them, they seemed, maybe just by the sheer fact that they were still there, rather defiant. There was something firm and stubborn about them- they didn’t seem to move until they were forced out. Their home was occupied well after the grass grew over their neighbors’ land.

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The article today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch puts Lambert International, and with it the fate of Carrollton, into startling perspective.

It is true, and now there is even more evidence- the destruction of our homes was, officially, for no reason. According to the article, the airport has been classified as simply a ‘mid-sized’ airport since 2003. In 2003, the new runway was barely started and many houses on the south still remained. Aside from hardship cases, my mom’s side of Carrollton was not approached for buy-out in 2003. She was not approached until 2006. Nearly all of my friend’s houses were still standing in 2003. All of the destruction could have been stopped when the officials realized that Lambert will NEVER fill the numbers of flights they had in the 1990s. Even those flights were executed without the shiny new runway that now sits uselessly in Bridgeton.

Its a brutal shock to me that they could take everything away, without doing their homework, without doing the research or checking their facts, but take it all for landlust and false pretenses. All that had existed from my childhood has been bulldozed down to dirt and busted roads, all for absolutely nothing.

If this doesn’t make someone question the validity of ’eminent domain,’ nothing will.

You can read the article here.

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Nothing has been destroyed since the recent Lonsdale demos and the fire. This past week’s violent winds and rain has caused major damage to the last house on Woodford Way and another home on Bittick. The roof of both homes has been nearly blown off to the point that the airport has added caution tape around Woodford, which didn’t exactly hold me back from getting close enough to take a few shots.

Tuesday evening, I found three teenage kids stranded with a flat tire. I drove past them once just before dark, wondering what a bunch of kids were doing in the middle of the street. I drove by them some time later and they were still there… they were stranded. Who knows what they were doing. Maybe they were mudding through the empty plots of land, or maybe they were just cruising too fast down the street. Whatever they did, their the rim was bent up badly and the tire was dead flat. Nevertheless, they’re kids doing no more than I did when I was 16, so I stopped and asked if they needed help. Turns out that they didn’t have a phone and were scared shitless; it was just after dark by this time. They were highly thankful for the use of my phone.

“Yo, Greg? Dude, you gotta help us! We busted up a tire in Ghost Town! Get here now! We’re borrowing some chick’s phone…. Hey- where we anyway? What are these streets called?”

“Chartley and Celburne,” I replied. I turned to the speaker’s brother. “Ghost Town? Is that what you call this area?” He gave me a guilty grin.

“Ghost Town. Yup, Its creepy as hell here! How do you know about this place?”

“I used to live here. Its not that creepy to me.”

“Man, I’m scared as hell. About five other cars drove past us and nobody would stop, so we’re stuck here in the dark! Where are the cops when you actually need them?”

Just as on cue, as if it was some kind of lame fiction novel or crappy sitcom, a cop car pulls up, and turns the flashers on. The kids start cheering the second the cop gets out of the car.  The cop opens his mouth, and starts booming. (more…)

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Driving home from the British Sea Power show last night, I had an inexplicable urge to drive through Carrollton. Being that it was one in the morning, I decided it wasn’t the safest thing to do. So I waited until this cold and rainy afternoon to see if there is anything going on… and shocked to see my new favorite home now only half-remains.

I spent some time photographing at 12752 Lonsdale on Friday, March 28. I photographed the interior of this home for the first time about a week or two ago, and I found it to be a beautiful place for pictures… the rooms were spacious, the wallpaper was interesting, and my favorite part was the dancing blinds off a sliding glass door in the back with all the glass broken out… with any breeze, the blinds would pick up and dance rhythmically in the wind, fluttering in opposite movements to one another, spiraling and twisting about. I’ve photographed the exterior many times, but because it sat boarded up for many years, I had no desire to enter. Places that are boarded up obviously do not afford good lighting for pictures. However, the boards started coming down once the weather became slightly warmer… and its visual treasures were finally revealed
Friday was the first time I had seen any sun all this past week and I wanted to get some decent interior shots. The last time I went in this house, it was cloudy and I struggled trying to get good color.  I was looking to capture the patterns of light reflected from the shards of broken glass everywhere in this house. The original pictures of the half door (see flickr) were cool in tone, and I wanted to see if I could get some warmer, more colorful hues. I also loved the pattern of the lattice wall in the foyer and wanted to get some closeups. Now, I am very thankful that I had the little time I did and got the shots I wanted. (more…)

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Early on in my life, I learned the importance of thought. To this day I still try to devote time to simply think and reflect. When I was younger I would lie down and let my mind weave through fleeting thoughts on school, inspirations for art, how to solve all the problems of the world, or simply wonder what the edge of the universe might look like (which I concluded long ago to be a dense, salmon-pink fog). Still, I never complain when I am left with a few moments alone because it gives me time to let my mind drift, all the while physically staring up into the oblivion. There were two places where I did most of my contemplation during my youthful Carrollton years- my bedroom and my backyard pool. Of my room, I could tell you the location of every glow-in-the-dark sticker in the shapes of stars and planets. The pool was also a great place to meditate as I could float around, letting the wind drift me from one edge of the pool to the other, all the while watching low overhead clouds and planes. In the cooler months when our pool was covered, I would simply lie on the deck and admire the real stars on the night’s chilly, velvety ceiling while wondering about the best ways to stop the destruction of the rainforest, what my future husband would look like, or why anyone listens to Michael Bolton.

So I find it rather strange that the two exact places where I spent endless hours of my youth contemplating the meaning of life has now opened up two rather largish sinkholes. My logical head realizes that there are many holes throughout Carrollton owing to the fact that the crews do not compact the ground when they are finished. Still, it is a bit unsettling (forgive the pun) that the two places I spent so much time dreaming up my future now is swallowing large portions of dirt deep into the underground. Maybe its just simply coincidence. Or, maybe there are some thoughts that need to be buried in time.


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The hot-water heater house at 12722 Lonsdale was a favorite of mine long before its front roof collapsed. This house went down on Friday, March 14th.

I wearily drove through the neighborhood after a long three-day conference on Saturday the 15th to find this one down to its driveway. I stood here for a good hour taking pictures of what little remained, waking up in the cold. There was a decorative lamppost in the far corner of the yard which had been used as a bird’s nest in recent years. I never noticed this little detail until the rest of the house was gone. Nicknamed, The Hot-Water Heater House, this place had also given me some of my favorite images, particularly in black and white. Last fall I found a newspaper that had blown into the yard with the headline, “Monuments to the Past.” Although the article was actually about a graveyard, I found the inclusion of the newspaper article into many of my shots here a fitting, final tribute. This place was a gorgeous little house that again would have been a great place to call home. It felt comfortable and well cared for long even long after its front beams were pulled off and the roof finally gave way. This house was full of warm pastel light and the little decorative touches that give a home character. The best part of this house was the hand-painted bedroom with folksy animals frolicking together in an intensely hued grassland. (more…)

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14806 Pont, on the northern side of Bonfils, was destroyed on March 3rd, a day before a massive snow storm left the wrecker sitting on this plot for weeks later.

I explored this house in detail after I saw the yard was dug up from the water tap destroy. From the outside, it was cute yet nothing special. There was a workbench that was moved to the front yard, which sat for years. A faded bandanna clung to the dogwood for an equal spread of time. Inside this home was full of bittersweet beauty. It was a spacious, well cared-for and classy place. It was the type of house that the homeowners took pride in. Despite knowing for years it would all be flattened and crushed, they updated and wallpapered, painted and decorated. A great room with a cozy fireplace flanked with windows was just off the entrance foyer. To the right of the foyer was a handsome library that make me envious of the number of books that was once proudly displayed on the floor-to-ceiling shelves. The bedrooms told me that kids grew up here and possibly left as teenagers or older. The open kitchen and dining area was inviting to walk around in. I am sure the cabinetry would have been quite nice had they not been wrenched off by scavengers. It was the kind of place that you knew once Lambert’s final letter was delivered to them, the family’s heartache sunk in deep. There was a feeling that something was not quite right; not in an eerie, creepy way but in a sad and melancholy way. Standing inside this empty and ravaged house, I could almost hear the scornful tears of the family who probably will never feel at home like they did on Pont. Wherever they are, whatever place they now try to call home, I am sure this family can still feel it. Everyone I have talked with all tell me they still do. (more…)

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The little yellow house on Pont was destroyed on February 28th.

I tried and tried to find out where the red wrecker went next. I drove around the subdivision four times until on 2/25 I decided to give it a go and check out Pont, on the southern side of Bonfils. Surprisingly, I saw the wrecker parked in the yard next to this yellow, numberless house. This cluster of remaining homes have been long tied up in court and sat vacant well before mine. They should have been taken years ago… they are the closest remaining homes next to the runway and could clearly be seen from Natural Bridge Road. Now, it seems, all loose ends are slowly being cleaned up and the houses cleared away. Graffiti strewn and boarded up for years, this particular house was frequently targeted by vandals who wanted their name seen from the street, for you could see the entire backside of this place when driving down Natural Bridge. This house was ready to come down, much like its now awaiting four brothers. (more…)

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3097 Celburne- Destroyed February 22, 2008

The last house left on Celburne was, literally, the last house on the street. It was a tan house on the corner of Brumley and Celburne with a triangular, sloping lot. The house itself was pretty non-descript but the yard was interesting. Poplar trees in the backyard hid the entire back side of the house from view, but the tall yard away from the tree blind was always kept neat and green. I never so much as glimpsed the occupants of this house despite the close proximity. It was their yard, not their house, that behold memories. I spent 15 minutes standing in the very corner of their yard every morning for every year in school. The signpost at the intersection was the bus stop for Brian, Joe and I. One cold, brave morning in my middle-school years, I worked up the courage to ask Brian to give me skateboarding lessons whilst trying my best to hide my girlie crush on him. (more…)

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12719 Grandin, was discovered in rubble on the evening of February 19, 2008. It was one of my absolute favorites.

This house was one of my top five for photographing… I’m even working on a painting of the light coming in so perfectly through the broken white-framed windows. It was such a beautiful house… one I would have liked to live in. It was ornate, but not overdone. It had a wonderful chandalier in the dining room that was hanging at an angle which I took an innumerable number of shots of just to get that one, perfect photo. The best part of the house was the light and how much light came in through the living room windows glowing bright on the floor. The broken glass on the ground cast sparkling illuminations  across the opposite walls and ceiling. It was one of the very few houses that I felt absolutely comfortable inside.


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