Two years ago I was out and about in a small Central Texan town researching and interviewing locals regarding the history of a few other abandoned houses that I would frequently visit, when I came to learn the tragic background of this small and unassuming little green house near Highway 84. For several years I had driven by and always noticed this little green house, but never took the opportunity to actually check it out in person; that was until I had learned of its story and felt compelled to connect with it.
The house sits on unevenly stacked piles of cement blocks and is located in the corner of a large plot of dry grassy land that I originally assumed was completely fenced off for cattle grazing – though I can not recall ever actually seeing cattle graze there. When I first saw the house I wasn’t positive if it was in fact legitimately abandoned, though it did look rather sad. It was obvious that the little green house didn’t belong on those cement blocks and there were many unfinished elements that were visible from the main highway, I simply assumed that it belonged to someone local and that they had uncertain plans for it so I never checked it out.
Then I met a couple nearby who had graciously welcomed me into their home and while they were eagerly making a map of nearby houses and buildings of interest that I should consider for my series they told me the story of the little green house.
About twenty some years ago an older out-of-town couple, on the verge of retiring, decided that they had wanted to relocate and spend their golden years together in Central Texas. They had bought this little green house, a common squared shaped building with a pyramidal roof – not much different from many other mid-century rural homes seen all over Texas and beyond, from an undisclosed location and had it transported to the plot of land where it currently sits. Unfinished.
While the little green house was in the process of becoming a finished home, the couple tragically met their untimely death. They were crossing the train tracks not too far from their new hopeful home when an unnoticed train had slammed into their vehicle.
Presently the little green house quietly sits where it was originally left as a silent homage to the couple’s dream. No one had since bothered to finish, sell, or tear it down.
Sometime in February of 2010 I came across a small unincorporated town in central Kansas with a highschool building dating back to 1925.
I remember it being a bone chilly day when I came into town.The sky was bleak and uninteresting; and not a single person but myself seemed to be outside or maybe even in town itself. I had knocked on the doors of a few houses with the hopes of learning something about the history of this school, but no one answered. I sort of suspect that a few had ignored me and watched me from behind the curtains.
The architecture of the school was the standard for this era of American high schools and my guess is that this little village was probably the largest of little unincorporated villages within several miles and therefore became the logical choice for a more central school that could educate a growing population. My other guess is that eventually, like many other rural communities across the country, the school most likely was closed sometime between the 1960’s and 1970’s for consolidation with an even larger school in a larger nearby town. As modes of public transportation improved and the American population both swelled and shifted from rural isolation toward more city centered locations – due in part to economic and cultural changes – it became financially necessary for midsize rural towns to once again combine their resources with an even larger and more modern school buildings in larger towns that had the ability to serve to a wider territory.
I wanted to and it was possible, though unsafe, but I didn’t climb into the school at this time; nor have I had the chance or luck of returning to reshoot and explore the area further.
Peering into the interior through a broken window I could see inside was loaded with what appeared to be several decades worth of unwanted and broken property from possibly the entire town. Dusty tables, broken lamps, rusty bicycles, deflated basketballs and much more were all in view. There was barely any space to comfortably stand let alone walk around and I suspect that my presence in the little village was seen as intrusive; I don’t know if this was an accurate vibe or just my imagination. From what I could see, beyond the junk, was a large open space that was very likely a gymnasium and/or multipurpose room serving also as the cafeteria and assembly hall. I remember my old elementary school, that was also once a the high school with separate entrances labeled for boys and girls, having a similar layout and the room functioning as several rooms throughout the day.
I am still devising a plan to return and take better photographs of this high school – please don’t judge me on these two – and of several other nearby buildings on my list; and spending more time in the region talking with locals, hopefully a less chilly atmosphere. I currently have a couple of regional contacts and hopefully more will come.