Every neighborhood has that house … a spooky, rambling manse that has long been in a state of decay. It’s that house you walk by posthaste or completely circumvent. Usually that house is completely abandoned but sometimes there’s someone living in it, usually a shadowy, much-gossiped-about-but-never-seen tenant who's as preternatural as the house itself.
For me, that house was a soaring, dilapidated Victorian — complete with turret and wraparound porch — two blocks from my childhood home. It was something out of a B horror movie: the grass out front was knee-high, weird cats prowled the perimeter, and the home itself looked like it was on the verge of collapse. I had also convinced myself that there was a graveyard out back.
The home’s owner, a reclusive woman rumored to be in her mid-100s, had a shock of white hair and rarely came outside. We all thought she was a child-kidnapping witch. (She really was in her 100s but just a fiercely independent, eccentric old-timer who had lived in the house her entire life.)
Imagine entire neighborhoods — entire swaths of a major city — filled with that house. Welcome to Detroit.
The photographs that comprise Detroit native Kevin Bauman’s website, 100abandonedhouses.com, are eerily beautiful records of neighborhoods populated by "concerned citizens, packs of wild dogs, 20-foot high piles of toilets, and houses with the facades torn off, filled with garbage.” Bauman’s starkly composed photographs, shot with an old Hasselblad camera, will haunt you even if you’ve never seen Detroit’s urban blight first-hand.
Bauman is now producing limited edition, 5x5 inkjet prints from the 100 Abandoned Houses series. They’re available for $35; $10 from each sale will be donated to charities like Habitat for Humanity and The Greening of Detroit.
What do you think of Bauman's photos? Are they despairingly beautiful or just despairing? Does the green rehabber in you want to spring to action or do you have scaredy-cat flashbacks to that house of your childhood?
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