Tag Archives: Texas

The Little Green House That Waits…

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.

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Bunny Acres Ranch

Texas is loaded with hidden gems for those who are adventurous enough to turn off the main highways and explore the endless number of county dirt roads beckoning for your attention. These largely ignored roads are bumpy, narrow, twisting, dust kicking scenic joys for the wanderlust at heart. You will find yourself thrown into the heart of real Texan life, unknown communities peacefully hidden behind the subtle changes in the landscape and scrub brush. It can, at times, feel like wonderland.

I came across Bunny Acres on one such county road adventure sometime in February of 2011; thanks to a wonderful couple who were kind enough to point me in the direction of some interesting buildings they knew of. I met them through a local historian in Coleman, TX who knew that they could answer some questions I had in regards to another house in the area that I had my eyes on. The couple was more than helpful and through them I have gained an even greater appreciation and love for the homes that I found.

The little ranch house of Bunny Acres was not completely abandoned; both the property and the house were still actively in use by a local rancher as a place for storage. The house was filled with bales of hay and around the property were some loose bits of equipment, a tractor and evidence of recent tire tracks. There was no easy way into the house without causing damage, and the doors and windows were locked. Because the house was still in use I wouldn’t want to mess around inside in case the rancher should come by.

The house looked like it could be a hundred years old; perhaps a little less, but not by much. It is definitely prewar. The small size of the house combined with the oversized and oddly attached porch roof gives the home a strange whimsical wonderland like vibe, though I don’t think that was the intention of the original builder. The entire house was gently resting on several stacks of cinderblocks, a common sight found in parts of the South. I assumed at first that maybe the current homeowners had the building relocated from another location – something that I have already encountered a few times within the area. See: Dance Hall. But recently I had also learned that, due to issues with the clay soil, many people in the area would choose to rest their homes on cinderblocks as a simple solution to avoid the expensive problems that the shifting soil would have on a foundation. Because of the soil, you will rarely find older houses in the area built with a basement.

 

I didn’t spend too much time at the Bunny Acres, but the little ranch did leave its mark on my imagination. I almost would have passed by it if I were not so lucky to be looking in another direction.

Lucky me and Lucky you!


Unknown, Texas

It was a beautiful early Spring day when I found this muted little house. I was originally en route toward another abandoned home known as The Green Roof House located a short distance away; when I noticed the Unknown House quietly existing amongst its naked shrubs and dry golden grass.  The setting was like any other rural Texan home left abandoned for reasons unknown; it was isolated from its neighbors, simple in structure and – despite its close proximity to the highway –  it was barely noticeable by most who would drive by.

What I remember most about the Unknown House was the masculine vibe that seemed to silently ooze through the broken boards and missing windows. When poking my head through one of the glass less window frames for a better view of the interior, I could almost faintly detect the rustic scent of cologne mixed with sweat and dirt. It is not very often that a house comes across to me as being so decidedly masculine. Normally it is the feminine presence that I would sense in these old homes. It is usually the stentorian remains of  someone’s “feminine touch” such as the revealing layers of decorative wallpapers that would linger behind long enough for me to find and photograph.

I have wondered a few times if this building might have been used to house the unmarried men who may have worked the ranch belonging to the earlier mentioned  The Green Roof House; though nothing inside or on the property was found that could prove my theory right or wrong.

I don’t remember why at the time I chose not enter the house.  I can’t recall a feeling of unwelcome as I walked around the building and I cannot see anything in the photos that showed any real danger in entering. There was no basement to fall into nor any wasp swarms to avoid.

I left the house, undisturbed, and continued to the Green Roof House.

NOTE: The Green Roof House’s story has not been publish as of yet. 


The Perryton House

I came upon this Texan house at the end of a long quirky adventure involving two other abandoned houses in Oklahoma and picking up along the way an amiable migrating homeless man from Florida.

Located in the Texan Panhandle, just a few miles North of Perryton. This house was a simple no thrills white Ranch style building with red trim around the windows and an oversize front porch that could make any Southern grandmother with a pitcher of sweet tea envious. The most impressive feature, for me, were these colossal trees firmly planted at each corner and creating a surreal mellow oasis in the barren panhandle. I stood beneath one of the tees and was in awe that they had grown rather straight and large in an area well known for its consistent strong winds. Most of the trees in this region tend to look like they could use a V8 juice, but not these Perryton trees!

I found the front door left ajar, almost like the house was patiently waiting for me, and displaying an amusing little sticker warning that I may be carried out if I break in…  HA!

Inside I found the air to be almost too musty and stale to breathe. None of the floor was visible beneath the piles of damp moldy ceiling panels and what looked like dirt, but could also have been decomposing building materials. Walking across this room was like walking on living sponge. Each step would slowly spring back up as I moved forward.

Seconds after entering the house I turned to my left and beheld what was the most perfect photo opportunity! An ugly faded floral reclining chair juxtaposed against a damage mural of a classic Western landscape. I was not expecting to find such a great image. Immediately I leaped over the filth and crouched low to get some decent shoots. The whole scene looked like it was frozen in time, as if the owner had meant to step out for just a moment with intentions of returning to her seat for an evening of jeopardy.

This was the first interior mural that I have come across in my decay adventure. Usually I find odd paint colors or peeling layers of outdated wallpaper patterns. I imagined that someone related to the previous occupants had painted this. It felt intimate.

From the living space I eagerly walked down the hallway, trying not to trip on the ceiling panels, to see what goodies might exist in the bedrooms. Sadly there wasn’t much of anything else to see and a few doors were jammed shut.

From the window of one room I noticed a police officer had pulled over and was outside looking at my car. For a brief moment I froze and could feel my heart thumping wildly against my chest in hopes of escaping out the back while leaving me behind to be carted off to the local jail.

At first I didn’t know what to do. I have been in and out of countless abandoned houses and NEVER once been caught by the authorities. I knew I couldn’t hide inside the house and quickly decided that the best action to take was to be proactive.

I walked outside and without hesitation I put my hand out to the Officer, introduce myself and gave him a quick explanation of what I was doing before he could even speak. I figured that if I was blatantly honest and showed all my cards he would see that I was not a threat or causing any harm.

To my relief the Officer turned out to be really cool and even seemed interested in my photo series. He didn’t seem to mind that I was there but did give me a warning to be careful because the locals are not the type that would react kindly to intruders.

I asked if he knew anything about the house or who owned it, but sadly he couldn’t recall a time when there were people living here. Apparently the place has been in poor condition for many years because the owners chose to let the place fall apart rather than sell or rent.

I did not stay to  much longer after the Officer drove off, but based on his account and a Ghost Buster sticker that I had found on a  back window I am estimating that the house was abandoned at least 20-25 years ago.

About 6 months after my photo adventure, I passed by and saw that the Perryton house had been completely demolished. Nothing is left except a few of the trees along the edge of the property. Seeing this empty space was unfortunate, I had hoped to return to retake a few photos.


The Dance Hall

I would have never known the existence of this old “Dance Hall” if it were not for a few acquaintances I made with some kind Texan folk when researching histories of other local abandoned buildings.

The “Dance Hall” is about 100 years old and according to the owners it has been relocated at least three times in the past century over the distance of several miles. It was originally built near  Rock Quarry by the railroad tracks and over the years it has been used as a place of residence, a Dance Hall for the local community and currently used to store hay and other farm related materials.

The original structure is simple in design and stubbornly holding together. When I asked if I could go inside I was told to be careful, not because of weak floorboards but of possible snakes. It wouldn’t be the first time I came across snakes while exploring rural decay and thankfully this time was not one of them. It was creepy inside with the wind blowing across the metal roof and through the gaps in the wall. My imagination was stirring as I stepped inside and saw the walls buckling out. I tried to envision rowdy dances, like the ones you see in old Western films, held inside; but it was a stretch. I am pretty sure by now any wild dancing would cause the floor to give out.


The Whimsical House of Avenue P

Avenue P is a narrow residential dirt road on the edge of Anson, a small central Texan town famous for being the inspiration for the Kevin Bacon film Foot Loose.

Not the place one would expect to find such playful and quirky architecture, but it was on this unsuspecting road where I found what felt to me to be the most whimsical rural house I have ever seen.

From the main road I could see the broken windows and bare wooden walls peeking through evergreens and winter trees. It beckoned to my curious nature and an immediate U-turn was performed.

From the front of the house you see a foundation for typical Texan house with a low roofline and a small porch entrance, similar to every other family home on the road; however, even from this vantage point you see elements of the creative spirit who once dwelled here. It was these creative visual elements along with the over growth of trees that set this house apart from the rest of the houses on the road and gives it its whimsical almost fairytale like quality.

The small porch reflected a Neo Classical inspiration with its squared columns and a simple pediment with arch opening over the doorway. The door was boarded up and windows were covered thoroughly with large sheets of corrugated metal. Looking closer you can notice more simple decorative details under the concealment of the wood and metal.

Walking around the house and passed the trees into the parking lot next door I was able to get a full view of the back. An addition was added to the original simple Texan home and it revealed even more whimsy than the elements added to the front. Most of the windows were still covered, but I could see and admire small Mondrian styled stain glass accent windows. I was pleased that these windows were not damaged like many other windows from the numerous other abandoned houses I have come across. My hope is that others didn’t have the heart to break a beautiful decorative element like these.  They are simple in pattern and color, but they offer a visual texture that completes the house.

Even more noticeable than the small stain glass windows, was the odd structure of what I assume is a semi enclosed balcony.  While standing directly behind the house and looking at the design of the balcony with the lines and form of the house you can see this odd plural marriage of Mondrian patterns, classical elements and modern architecture.

I never found a way inside because the house was well boarded up and there was a large colony of wasps swarming out of a crack where the original and newer addition meets.  When winter comes back, and the wasps are mellow, I hope to be able to find the current owner and gain access for interior photographs. I also hope to learn more about this Texan Gem. Why anyone would leave abandoned this creative oasis is a tragic mystery to me.


Coleman Decay

In the past four years I have spent many uneventful days in this small Texan town, rarely ever taking the time to see it. It wasn’t until one late warm Summer day last year that I decided to explore the unknown streets and remote corners that lay hidden away from the eyes of Main St.

 

 

My little adventure on these desolated bucolic backstreets lead me to some interesting nooks and crannies along with some perfect examples of Rural Decay. I even learned to appreciate a little town that I had, up until this day, pretty much ignored for its possibilities.

 

Photography has taught me to be more observant of my surroundings and to break out of my own comfort zones to explore what is unseen and what has been easily forgotten. In the past I have stuck to the main roads, but with my camera I find myself sneaking down the side streets and often stepping off the road completely. Without it I would have seen and experience so little.

 

 

 


Left for the Cows

 

Driving South along Hwy 70 through the Texan Panhandle  and I came across this farm house with what appeared to be a decaying motel building next door. Currently the property was being used for cattle and they had made a real mess of everything.  Cow chips was all over the place inside and outside. I must have spent nearly as much time trying to avoid stepping in anything messy as I was trying to capture interesting perspectives of what was left of this old house.


The interior of the main house was fragile. The walls were bare of plaster and wall papers; and wooden beams were exposed. Looking up one would see that the roof was practically swiss cheese and the floor had better days. The house was simply a shell slowly closing in on itself. The presence of cattle and several other animals had helped accelerate the damage.

 


Next to the main house was an interesting looking ‘L’ shaped building with may doors and windows. I had thought at first that maybe it was a small motel. This idea would made sense because the building was located about a 1/2 mile away from Interstate 40. Not too much else exists before or after the exit, thus making it a good place for late night travelers to stop and rest. But, upon further inspection, I think the building could also have been apartments for those working on the farm. Some of the rooms were small and separate while other rooms were a bit larger and connected  to other room through a series of doorways. Also there was one bathroom and one kitchen on the end for the entire building. The limited utilities and small living spaces paints the image of a few farm hands living together in a fashion that imitates college dorm life.

Most of the rooms were empty with the exception of cow chips and random bits of debris. Some rooms did contain more interesting stuff like an old TV screen, a pile of rotting beds and several unknown wooden objects..

 

Outside were several random items of interest, specifically the rusted remains of an old Buick. Other items included bits of farm equipment and old cans.

 

 




The Discarded Life in Texas

 

I found this little house in the middle of a Texan cotton field! I walked inside expecting very little and found that the previous occupants just left everything behind. They were in the middle of packing their life into several boxes and in the middle of everything they just stopped and walked out; discarding their belongings and starting new.