The remains of a South Jersey Farm
I noticed this old abandoned farm house by accident while driving. I just happened to glance at the side of the road and saw it at the end of a long and very overgrown driveway.
The house is a typical early to mid 19th century South Jersey farm house. The right-hand side (top photo) was probably the original house and the left side was most likely added years later. Parts of that addition might actually be an older 18th century house, but that would be difficult to tell without going through it in detail.
I went back to this house before dawn to photograph it and caught some beautiful early light at sunrise. It seems a little surreal to see this kind of elegant light falling on such a dilapidated structure.
As bad as the house was, the condition of the rest of the farm was worse. A foundation was the only thing left of a large barn. Nature was doing a good job of demolishing the other outbuildings.
The interior of the farm house was in really bad shape. I had to be careful of my footing and decided not to go upstairs. I may work up my courage to do that on a future trip if I find myself out that way again.
The preservationist in me dreads seeing three siding types on this old home, especially the ugly red asphalt siding that seemed to be popular at one point in the New Jersey Pinelands. My artist side could not help falling in love with the color scheme and textures that this re-muddling has created.
I was in the middle of a long one-minute exposure in another room when I noticed the golden dawn light filtering in through the front door. I had to stop what I was doing to shoot this instead. The warm red light falling on this ruined home highlighted its desolation.
Stepping outside during the sunrise brought even more feelings of desolation.
While there is a strange beauty to capture in abandoned buildings, I also want to find their personal history, or the ghosts, as I called it in my post about the Pennhurst Asylum. These next photographs shows remnants of the people who lived here. What was it like cooking in this simple kitchen? Why is there a mirror by the sink? Who picked the paint scheme for the front hallway? Just how comfortable was that plush furniture in the parlor?
Old and abandoned farms like this one are evidence of a changing landscape. I’m a landscape photographer by passion and, until recently, passed by many old buildings while seeking the more natural subjects like forests, streams and mountains. Now those abandoned structures are grabbing my attention. They are also part of the landscape and in some cases, the people living in and using those buildings caused the landscape to become what it was through farming or industry. I’m finding myself driven to record them with my camera and hopefully do justice to their history, good or bad.
This is an interesting post. I’ve seen these old farm houses around South Jersey and always wondered how they look on the inside.
I did too. So it was great to have the opportunity to explore and share the inside of this one. I plan to go back sometime in the near future.
Must have been a large family there once; all those chairs? big spaces? If walls could talk….great eye for telling details, as always. DO be careful please when exploring – no need to damage yourself in the pursuit of art. Thanks for sharing this experience with us…the impermanence of a ‘solid structure’…the only things that last are memories!
Thanks Susan. I appreciate your comment. Oh if walls could talk. It would be nice to know more about the last people to live here. Thanks also for your concern. I try to be very careful in this work. I am always watching where I step and will even wear a hard hat if the ceilings look a little sketchy.
Love the kitchen image. Curtains- chairs-table-still manages to have that homey feel. The plaid and striped furniture in the parlor really add to all the neat textures you captured here.
Thanks Buck, this place was nothing but texture.
Superb post – and those photos are excellent. You really have caught the character of the place – very sad and neglected. No way would I spend a night there – and I once spent a night in a ‘genuine haunted house’ (nothing happened).
Thank you James. This house is quite sad knowing that families over a century called this place home. I wouldn’t spend a night there either. Being their in the early morning was spooky enough. A real haunted house huh? A friend of mine is headmaster of a private school that dates back to the early 19th century and they have a ghost that rattles the pots around in the kitchen. So I’m told anyway. I’ve not seen it happen.
The one I stayed in happened when I was a teenager – I said I would do it to impress a girl – and immediately regretted it! It was a half ruined 17th Century rectory called ‘Glebe Cottage’. I smuggled in some strong booze and some of my mothers sleeping pills in the hope that they would knock me out – they did! I felt rough in the morning, but honour was satisfied! I (sadly) didn’t win the girl though 🙁
Why are all the dumb things we do as kids always involve a girl that we don’t get in the end? It’s no different here. Your idea of booze and sleeping pills was probably a great one. I don’t think you not would have slept otherwise and may have been scared for life from the experience.
As always your work is much enjoyed. Abandoned old homes in Urban areas are sadly no go zones here and even some in Rural areas as its a haven for crime. So these often cannot be entered without fearing for safety and if you do find it empty, then of course the filth is unspeakable. Great images
Thanks for the compliment Rudi. It really isn’t different here either. Abandoned urban buildings are also places you don’t want to go into alone at the wrong time. Rural places are better as the bad element tends to be teenagers and only show up at these places at night. I’ve occasionally seen evidence of homeless people living in some of these old homes. The filth is also the same. Sometimes it is overwhelming and forces me to move on.
Interesting Post, Rich. Around my area here in Reading, PA there are a number of abandoned farms and barns left over from years ago. All of them are just crumbling away into History. When I see these, I always wonder why the people that once lived there left. Why? Something happened to cause it. The ones that I do see, have Private Property signs posted around, so I don’t venture into these places. Don’t want a nasty fine! There is also what Rudi say’s above. Venturing into these old places can turn into a safety hazard. Falling into rotton wood, crumbling walls, and critters that now use it as a shelter make for a bad day, if your not careful. As you may know, I just love to snoop around in old Historic places. I’ve gotten in trouble once!
Thanks for your comment Les. You touch on a couple of great points. First, it is interesting what happens to these places, especially the farms. The ones where I’ve tracked down the owners to get permission to enter are usually a story of older parents passing away and the children not wanting to farm. Often times there are family or financial disputes that prevent the property from being sold. It’s kind of sad that long traditions of farming can end that way.
Safety is a big issue in these places. You learn quickly what is relatively safe and where to walk that can hold your weight. I also have a hard hat as part of my photo gear.
The police show up from time to time, but I usually have permission to be there. The one time I didn’t, I only got a warning. Having a camera instead of spray paint or a weapon must have convinced the officer I was not intending any harm and only recording history. That building was demolished about a year later.
Yes, it probably is the case that you have stated. The Farm or home might have been passed down to others in the Family, but they didn’t want the hassel of keeping up another home. It is a shame, like you said. It probably happens more than we know.
There is a place not far from me, called Dreamland Park. I had made of Post about it awhile back. It used to be a small amusement park back in the 60’s, but when 2 teenagers were murdered there, the place went down hill fast. I “snooped around” there and found it real strange. All that remains are buildings falling apart, and something that I can’t explain. I was told that it was haunted by the Spirits of those who were murdered there. I tend to believe this. While there I had this strange feeling that I was being watched by something that I could not see! If you want more info on this go on YouTube and type in “Dark in The Park.”
I think I have heard of Dreamland Park. It’s a place I wouldn’t mind photographing because it has a story that I find interesting. Sometimes businesses suddenly fail for unexpected reasons and I find the fallout and physical remains of this fascinating for some reason. I once photographed an old lab that was built as a state of the art research facility to develop compounds for lead paint. It opened in 1963 which was only a year or two before latex paints came on the market. The lab closed and remained abandoned for a long time. I’m happy to have gotten in there several times because it is now being demolished.
Dreamland Park is about a 1/2 hr. drive for me here. If you have any thoughts of going there, I would highly not recommend it! There are now Private Property signs all over the area. At the time I was there, signs did not exist! They do now. While shooting this area, I was approached by the Owner of the property and told in stern words, to leave or he will call the Police! I still have Images of the place that I shot. Problem is how to let you see them.
Thanks for the warning. I’d try to get permission before passing a Private Property sign. I’d love to see your images. If you want, I can set up a way for you to do that. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to do that.
I’ll see what I can do about this.
As always, beautiful shots.
Thanks for the compliment and comment. I really appreciate it.
Excellent find and images that speak to me! I love how the kitchen chairs are still so neatly placed around the table, as if waiting for the next meal.
Thanks, as always, Denise for your comment. That kitchen was very interesting. Between the chairs, the mirror on the sink, it looks quite eerily occupied.
Thank you Laura for your comment, and for noticing those verticals.
You’re welcome Rich. 🙂 I’ve learned also to not zoom so tightly into architecture so I have room to adjust. learned the hard way.
I think we all have learned that the hard way.
The photo of the kitchen makes me feel funny. If it were cleaned up, I could see a family gathered at the table and mom standing at the sink doing dishes. It makes me wonder about the people who lived there and called it home.
Many times when I’m in an abandoned place, especially a house I feel the presence of the family who last lived there. Sometimes it is a physical artifact like a photo or book, sometimes it is just a feeling. When I was taking the photograph you mentioned, I had the same reaction as you did.
This is beautiful, what a great discovery!! Thank you for sharing, you captured this so well, I’m so glad I stumbled across your site
Thanks I appreciate the comment. It’s my pleasure to share these finds and am glad you enjoyed it.
Wow, you have a great eye! I love these pics, especially the one with the light falling across the doorway. Haunting and beautiful.
Thank you for this amazing compliment. I really appreciate it. When the the light hit the doorway in the image you mentioned, it was really amazing. It’s rare to get that kind of light mixing with this kind of subject.
You’re so welcome. There’s so much feeling conveyed throughout the whole set but that one is really special. Can’t wait to see more of your work!
WOW, I shot that farm house several times, great images I like your comps.