Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Echoes of Ourselves:" An Abandoned Hillside Home


Its been nearly four years since I last looked at these photographs, having made them in 2009 and forgotten about them until this morning. On the hillside of Mt. Auburn, amongst the streets of homes and their impressive cityscape vistas, lies a hollowed out and windowless structure. Constructed 134 years before I even stepped foot in the building, it's incredible to think about the lives and people who passed through here in nearly one and half centuries.


Unlike some other abandoned structures I've explored, this building didn't require as much creativity and ingenuity to find a way in. Instead of climbing a fence or going through an open window, we simply walked in the front door. The few remaining boards "guarding" the structure weren't doing much to keep anyone or anything out.

- Fireplace in the living room.

Even in decay, this home's elegant, original features and detailed construction can still be seen from the fireplace to the banisters. Meanwhile, the impact of later generations and "trends" can be seen in the peeling, pastel wallpaper.


One of the most interesting things about photographing abandoned buildings isn't just the appearance of the environment around you, but the thought of what once was - the events that could've transpired here, the people who passed through - all of whom have a complex life of events and friends as unique and vast as your own experiences.


In 2002, photographer Duane Michals published a collection of images he made while visiting the abandoned remains of his childhood residence. In a poignant reflection on what we leave behind upon vacating a place, he writes:
"I believe we leave echoes of ourselves behind. In those rooms where our lives were first defined. Sometimes there is a moment redux, when the flux of time becomes transparent. It is a reverberation of recall. A subtle sense of recognition, within a shrouded familiarity."

- A kept up, modern home just in the backyard of an abandoned one.

Although people seem to be long gone from this home, it's a wonder why they haven't returned. The hillside is spotted with well-kept homes and what would seem to be prime real estate, featuring a picturesque view of nearby downtown:



Built in 1875, this home has been standing for 134 years. At the time it was constructed...

- The United States Congress passed the first Civil Rights Act.
- The first indoor ice hockey game was played in Montreal, Canada.
- The first game of college football was played between Tufts and Harvard University.
- Boss Tweed escaped from a New York prison and fled to Cuba.
- American President Andrew Johnson died.


Although these photographs are from May of 2009, by all accounts the building still stands much as it appeared in these frames. According to the County Auditor website, the building is owned by some equity firm in Oxford, Ohio.



  1. I wonder the same things as I wander through OTR. What was and what can be. I've been in this area for 15 years and am constantly amazed. I'm amazed by the depth of the history that was made here. The unique social fabric that evolved here and now revives in a new image after being mothballed by poverty for so long.

    1. Couldn't agree more. OTR has such an interesting and compelling story.

    2. Avondale does too, but no one seems to really care... sigh...

  2. Very recently a dumpster was placed in front of this property and filled to the top quickly. The "equity firm" is actually an individual that set up a self directed IRA, which allows one to invest retirement funds into real estate. Won't be long before the building is creating new memories; hopefully it is redone tastefully.

    1. That's great news! Looking forward to seeing new life breathed back into this building!

  3. PLEASE tell me this building is still here sitting like this?!
    You MUST tell me where this is!

  4. Has this been demolished or is it still standing?