One look at this house and you know it is something you don’t come across everyday. An utter lack of modern amenities, including electricity,running water or any trace of modern appliances testify to the age of this house. The only remaining access to the upper floors, a rusting ladder attached to the outside of the house, only adds to the strange quality of this house.
Even without the modern amenities that have come to characterize our idea of a house, there are numerous personal effects in each of the two first floor rooms. Debris litters the floor and hides the wood plank floor. A bookcase filled with dust covered bottles, an old fashioned desk with a painted dollhouse, and a partially collapsed dining room table all support the fact that this was indeed once a home to someone.
This house raises so many questions that have no answers. When was this house originally build and how long has it been sitting alone in rural Iowa?
April of last year was a time of remarkable changes for me. To say I was fortunate to have many people in my life willing to help me through my grief is an understatement. While trying to find myself again, I spent a lot of time behind my camera, trying to find some semblance of beauty in a world made dark.
It was during a rehabilitative trip to rural Iowa, in which we spent two rain filled days getting stuck in the mud, that we stumbled upon this unforgettable house.
Standing completely bare in the middle of a muddy field, it has been left to rot and fade away. Just a glimpse of the outside is enough to make you wonder how someone could even contemplate leaving it behind. Even with the faded whitewash and rotting wood pillars, this house has a powerful and undeniable presence.
From the beautiful stained glass windows facing the front porch to the mahogany pocket doors and built in cabinets, everything about this house was obviously done with love and attention to detail. Even the dining room and kitchen ceilings were crafted with great care.
Even in it’s advanced stage of decay, you can see what this house once was. While standing among the rotting furniture and garbage littered rooms, I closed my eyes and could just imagine the room filled with warm light and laughter. It is truly the epitome of beautiful decay, in every sense.
Even though I could photograph just about anything, I believe it is a privilege to capture the underlying beauty of places like this home. Behind the peeling wallpaper, rotting floors and broken furniture is someone’s story, someone’s mark on the world. The opportunity to capture it is simultaneously heartbreaking and irreplaceable in beauty.
Since February of 1989, this little farmhouse nestled in the heart of Wisconsin has been left in complete solitude to crumble and decay away. Without a single town in miles and few neighbors in sight, the farmhouse has truly managed to remain a time capsule of belongings and memories.
A house with so much visible history makes it hard to understand how so many personal artifacts can be left to nothing more than the cold hands of time. Is it possible to love something so much, we would rather see it rot than belong to someone else? Or do we simply see so much value in the things we love that we forget how meaningless they can be when left in the hands of a stranger.
On the other side, maybe I am being too romantic. While I like to think of love and laughter once filling these walls, I know that some places deserve nothing more than to be forgotten and left to rot. Not every piece of the past deserves to be remembered in the future. There are some parts of my own life that I have pushed into the dark recesses of my mind, hoping they will slowly rot away until they are nothing more than a dark whisper.
We will probably never know what this house truly was or what it meant to the people that once inhabited it, but it doesn’t really matter anyway. The fact is, it is there. Whether it left a beautiful or dark mark on the world, it has simply refused to be forgotten by a world that is trying to fade it away.
Maybe it is the fact that it has felt like a long winter, more so emotionally than anything, but it has been so difficult to find the motivation to go out and take pictures. I keep looking at my camera sitting in the corner and I swear I can see it collecting dust. There is no doubt that photography is my saving grace when depression is creeping at my door. Unfortunately though, they have yet to invent a camera that also pulls you away from your comfy couch and warm blanket.
This last weekend, I finally found a friend nearby that motivated me to go on an adventure in neighboring Wisconsin. Initially it seemed like a wonderful idea, especially considering the lack of snow and fairly reasonable winter temperatures. What we didn’t know is that we would be wading through knee deep snow for the entire day! I guess it wouldn’t be a true adventure without a few things failing to go according to plan right?
Our first find of the day turned out to be a gorgeous shell of a house. Nestled on the intersection of a fairly rural road, it was buried in a mess of trees and what I am certain is a lot of incredibly tall, tick infested grass.
One of the more interesting aspects of this house is the complete removal of all the original woodwork. Is it possible that someone cared enough to preserve each piece of trim and flooring, or was it left to rot and eventually stolen after years of decay? Certainly only one of dozens of mysteries lying within this charming farmhouses past.
It is also hard to deny the beauty in peeling wallpaper. I have yet to come across a room like this without it stopping me in my tracks. Something about it is so devastating, yet it almost provides a special glimpse into the secrets of a house. Like peeling back the layers of the houses life, you are slowly being allowed to see into the depth of its soul.
Maybe this is what makes these houses so beautiful to only certain people. Maybe you have to be damaged in some way to see the beauty behind something so decayed and to some, useless.