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Spooky Ruins

This Halloween, the best buildings on view are the ones that haven't been renovated or maintained—for a long, long time All photos from the American Ruins film project

Exodus

Photo by Courtesy <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

This 19th-century mining village that once thrived in Utah was abandoned after a horrific explosion killed over 200 men. This structure—the remains of a company store built by Italian masons—is all that remains of the village.

Victorian Sanatorium

Photo by <a href="http://www.arssubterranea.org/" target="_blank">Julia Solis</a>

This remote Romanesque-style sanatorium, with its conical turret, once housed tuberculosis patients. Though picturesque, old institutions are increasingly being converted for residential use, no one has bothered to save this particular structure deep in the Midwestern woods.

Talking Walls

Photo by <a href="http://www.arssubterranea.org/" target="_blank">Julia Solis</a>

It's easy to picture someone reclining in the bed of this New England cottage for the mentally ill. The bright snowscape and generous space evoke a sense of peace and harmony—until one looks closer to discover frantic scratch marks still left on the walls.

Last Dance

Photo by <a href="http://christopherbeauchamp.com/" target="_blank">Christopher Beauchamp</a>

A chair is all that remains in this former dance hall in Connecticut. The wooden floor is now soggy and overgrown with moss. The foundation slowly sinks into the earth.

Derailed

Photo by Courtesy of <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

This gingerbread-trimmed train station once served summer tourists in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Since the decline of the railroad, the station sits covered in ferns with only occasional birds and insects passing through its halls.

Phantom of the...Cafeteria?

Photo by Courtesy of <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

This New England asylum cafeteria, with its graffiti-covered walls and fallen chandelier, withstood numerous assaults by vandals—only to be felled by a wrecking ball in 2006.

Ghost Town

Courtesy of Handcranked Productions

Even in this age of urban sprawl, there are numerous ghost towns left scattered across America. This former log-home settlement in Wyoming was deserted after a local railroad discontinued its freight line through the town.

Tuned Out

Photo by <a href="http://christopherbeauchamp.com/" target="_blank">Christopher Beauchamp</a>

The former owners of this empty residence in the South left behind many possessions, including this vintage television set. Unfortunately, no electricity remains to test how well it's survived its many years of solitude.

Forest Mansion

Photo by <a href="http://christopherbeauchamp.com/" target="_blank">Christopher Beauchamp</a>

Dwarfed by nature, this once-stately Georgian mansion deep in the forest surrounding an industrial town now sits exposed to the elements, waiting out its inevitable demise.

Mold & Peeling Paint

Photo by <a href="http://www.arssubterranea.org/" target="_blank">Julia Solis</a>

A mixture of mold and peeling paint gives this 19th-century institutional ward (in the humid Southeast) a decidedly aquatic flourish. This room was once used to seclude mentally ill patients in a complex that is still partially in use. Patients held here were observed through the square opening in the door.

Don't Forget Your Manors

Photo by Courtesy of <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

This 19th-century clapboard mansion in the Northeast is a rambling composite of several old houses and a school. It was moved in parts from the town below up to a high hill overlooking a picturesque mountain range. Several other architectural 'follies' are scattered around the property, including a fake windmill and small gingerbread play cottage.

Sugar Shack

Photo by Courtesy of <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

Maple syrup was boiled down to make sugar as a part of this rural refinery in Vermont. This tin-roofed, shingle-sided shack still contains rusted machinery. Utensils and moth-eaten aprons litter the floor.

Desertion

Photo by Courtesy of <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

These vacant officers' houses straddle a fort that served as harbor defense for a Northeastern city during World War I and World War II. These military structures also served as Italian POW camps—a chapter of a wartime history that undermines the idyllic autumnal setting.

The Coffin Farm

Photo by Courtesy of <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

This New Hampshire farmhouse dates back to the 1700s, but its eerie moniker—the Coffin Farm—finally fits. Three elderly siblings lived here until the death of the last one in the mid-1990s, but they never bothered to install electricity or running water.

Mystery Shoes

Photo by Courtesy of <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

An old mansion in an historic New England town harbors a few surprises. While it is true that a whole cast of eccentric characters has lived here throughout the years, there is simply no accounting for the many crates of old dress shoes strewn across the dusty floor.

Tangled Web

Photo by Courtesy of <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

This is what happens when you leave your windows open too long. This former bedroom in an abandoned family home near the Mississippi River has been infiltrated by vines that nearly reach the opposite wall.

Heads Will Roll

Photo by Courtesy <a href="http://handcrankedproductions.com/" target="_blank">Handcranked Productions</a>

In the abandoned attic of a 19th-century New York manor house, a ghostly garden statue has evidently lost its way—while searching for its head.

Coming Soon

Photo by <a href="http://christopherbeauchamp.com/" target="_blank">C. Beauchamp</a>

A magnificent auditorium in Connecticut only grows more beautiful with each flaking paint chip. It would make a grand space for an unusual theater performance, or perhaps the premiere of our film, American Ruins.