It was sometime during the Winter of 2007-08 when I came across my first abandoned house in rural America. It was this particular house that sparked my growing obsession for photographing abandoned rural buildings. I had seen plenty of empty discarded houses before on the road, in passing, but this was the first time that I was able to walk up to one and see it up close.
This classic farmhouse was located on a dirt road behind a thin barrier of trees and shrubs. The yard was littered with bits of rusting farm equipment, some of which was hidden under the grassy overgrowth and made walking across the yard a bit of a safety challenge.
When I walked onto the property I felt like I crossed into another dimension. The air grew stale, sounds were muffled and time seemed to slow. The front door was wide open and almost beckoned me to come closer; but, mostly because of my over-active imagination, there was no way that I was going to walk inside and explore the interior.
Every horror movie I have ever seen was flashing before my eyes. They all seemed to start with an innocent looking home, like this one, and carefree characters, such as myself, going about their day like it was any other day with nothing to fear. That is, of course, until IT happens. I knew that by going inside I would become THAT girl who should be running away at the first sign that something was even remotely wrong, but instead naively walks upstairs alone to become the next victim of a serial killing blood thirsty werewolf zombie who freshly escaped from an intergalactic mental institution with an ax and a vendetta against Jersey girls. No, I could not and will not be THAT girl. Not this time at least.
I tried to push the thought of being gruesomely slaughtered in North Dakota out of my head – I knew at that point that I was really just a victim of my own saturated imagination – with the hopes of maybe building up some courage to take a peek through the window. That too was not going to happen. I was pretty sure the house was alive and would eat me – see, that crazy imagination strikes again.
What I did do was sit and stare with wonderment at why this place was left to rot away. Looking at it anyone could see that it was really once a decent farmhouse. From the outside the structure appeared to be sound and functional. The design was the modest no frills practical architecture that is popular among many American farming communities. There was plenty of used equipment to be found along with a barn and several sheds; all painted red in typical fashion. It was obvious that this was once a bustling farmstead but something had happened to make the last occupants leave.
It was the mystery behind the house that stirred my curiosity and desire to see more similar places. I wanted to discover the stories behind these empty places and document what clues were left behind. I was fascinated by the isolation and melancholic beauty of their deterioration. Like any new obsession, I wanted more.
When I left the North Dakota farmhouse I felt regretful that I did not muster up the courage to walk inside with my camera in tow, but ever since that day I have enjoyed the thrill of getting closer and braver with each newly discovered abandoned building; and preserving the existence of each one through photography. Now I find myself walking freely upstairs – when there is an existing upstairs safe enough to walk around in – and feeling confident, most of the time, that I can handle a werewolf zombie hiding behind the door because I am a kick-ass Jersey girl.