This is why I keep locations secret.

Sometimes people wonder why I don’t share locations with the exception of face-to-face explores with people I trust. It’s not because I don’t want others to discover what I’ve discovered – in fact, nothing pleases me more than seeing what another photographer shoots in a place I’ve visited. I keep these places secret because almost every time a lesser-known location is made public, it’s trashed in mere months.

In this post, you’ll see before and after shots of a school that I first visited in 2008. The “new” photos are from last weekend.

I didn’t really remember what I’d shot my first time around, so the “after” shots were pretty much approximations of my originals. Some are moved a bit or at different focal lengths, but they get the point across.

The most crushing example of the damage that a few years of being a well known abandoned building struck me in the theater. What was once a comparably beautiful room complete with chandeliers was now a complete wreck – riddled with graffiti and completely devoid of light fixtures (They had been torn down).

Theater Seats Before
2008 – Auditorium from the theater floor. Notice the chandeliers up top and the mostly pristine seats.
Theater Seats After
2014 – chandeliers are gone, seats are trashed. The lens flare is an artifact of my hastiness. I wasn’t super happy about the changes, so I didn’t want to take a lot of time on the photo.

The same went for the stage. Not pristine by any means, but the decay was clearly from nature and not from intentional vandalism. The piano to the left of my friend is now completely destroyed – smashed and broken by vandals. The screen is now ripped down and covered in graffiti.

Theater before
From the seats 2008.
Theater After
From the seats, slightly higher, 2014. Piano on the left is trashed.

The metamorphosis of the chemistry and biology labs were incredibly unfortunate. The first time my friend had visited, there were science projects set up on desks, dioramas up, a whole cabinet full of microscopes, and a beautiful wooden case with glass panes that held all sorts of chemicals and science experiments. All of that was gone and broken when we went back.

Cabinet Before
2008 – Cabinets
Cabinet After
2014 – Cabinets trashed

The hallways were all the same. Where once there were lit fluorescent lights, graffitiless walls, and artifacts of the time that the building was a school, now there was only destruction. The only saving grace is the fact that nobody has vandalized the painting to the right of both photos yet. I’m contemplating calling a historical society or something to salvage it before the vandals get to it.

2008 Hallway
2014 Hallway

Nearly everything that wasn’t bolted down has been trashed, moved, or stolen. A couple of old Apple computers that I had taken photos of on my first trip through were now destroyed and strewn about the school’s hallways. Since I couldn’t find them in the original room, I took photos of some of the remaining computers, which were in awful shape.

Computers Before
2008 – Dusty Apples
Computers After
2014 – Smashed PCs

As much as things change, some stuff stays nearly the same. The only changes between two photos of a poster of Michael Jackson – one before he died and one after – are a missing water fountain and a spraypainted “RIP”.

Jackson Before
2008 – Michael Jackson poster
Jackson After
2014 – RIP Michael Jackson Poster

10 thoughts on “This is why I keep locations secret.

    1. Pointless, barbaric destruction is not a right, and it doesn’t “belong” to criminals, any more than it “belongs” to photographers that leave no mark of their passing.

    2. They don’t belong to either one of those, jackass. That property is owned by someone, even if it is abandoned. Anytime you go into an abandoned building without permission you are in effect, trespassing.

    3. It doesn’t belong to either of us. It belongs to the city or whoever owns the property. That’s why I make a habit of not breaking stuff or splashing my name all over the place like a neanderthal.

    4. Fuck you dude. Take only photos, leave only footprints. I don’t recall a “smash shit up like the animal pieces of trash we are” suggestion in the Urban Explorers Handbook.

    1. Agree. It’s something I have to get used to, but it really is sad watching places that have survived in the years suddenly get hit by massive waves of vandalism.

    1. Nah, it’s due to a quick burst of vandalism. I haven’t updated my main post yet, but I saw a photo someone took as recently as 2013 in which the chandeliers were intact, there was very little to no blatant vandalism in the auditorium, and there were far fewer tags.

      Not to mention the fact that the school had been closed for three or four years before my first visit.

      Much of what happened, happened between late 2013 and mid 2014.

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