Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The "Research Division."

It was the holiday break of 2008 when Venkman and I struggled through a maze of dead plant life and stoic tree branches covering the asphalt path that had once been a driveway. Walking right past the empty, crumbling guard shack and into the complex's courtyard, the rare Midwest winter sunlight glimmered off the eerie, metallic lettering on the front of the building which read: Research Division.

What research had been done here, we didn't know, we had discovered someplace new. We had no idea of the building's past and wouldn't have noticed it concealed behind all the overgrown plant life near the road had it not been for a quick glance in the right direction while cruising by. Venkman set up his tripod as I rounded the building's corner to get an idea for how big the facility was, that's when I noticed we were not alone.

Who was that guy? Was he supposed to be there? Was he a scrap thief? I didn't care to make friends or exchange pleasantries as I saw the man carrying boxes to and from a beat up Chevy Astro. Not sure of whether he had seen me or not, I uttered "time to go" to Venkman as we politely exited down the road from whence we came.

A year later, Venkman would be out of town, but Jeffrey would be up for an adventure as we entered the outskirts of the "Research Division." The surrounding junked cars, broken windows and decaying buildings made it seem as if we had stepped directly into a level from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (the first one). Climbing a network of stairs in the first building, we were anxious to make sure there was no unexpected company; whether they be scrappers or virtual communist soldiers.

I mulled over what little information the internet had revealed about this building's past while Jeffrey and I gazed out the windows of the building's top floor, keeping an eye out for any "tangos," or unexpected guests. The complex of buildings had once been offices and laboratories for the U.S.I. division of Quantum Chemicals. Quantum had purchased the facility in 1988, a few years before they moved their headquarters to the Cincinnati area. Eventually Quantum Chemical's presence in the area diminished and sometime around 2003 they sold the property. Signage on some of the building walls indicated that the facilities may have been used by the University of Cincinnati at one point, but today the property is pretty much barren and used as storage for tractor trailers and other junk, mostly automobiles that have been gutted for parts.

Jeffrey and I weren't the first visitors though, everywhere the walls and ceilings were torn up with pipes and metal left exposed by scrap thieves that had ravaged the place. As we put together our cameras we noticed polaroids that had been left on the ground by a photographer before us. "Looks like we're clear, no one else is here" I muttered as we began having a look around.

Most of the labs were empty, void of any remnants of their past life. Car parts and junk littered the floors while signage and telephones on the walls remained as clues to the building's past purpose.

We started from the top and worked our way down, gazing out the windows and keeping an eye on how much daylight was left. Many of the rooms were repetitive and just filled with trash and moldy carpet.

Before moving on to the next set of buildings we came across two old vehicles. An old Cadillac with the words "JFK Limo" written into the dust on the windshield...

...and a hearse devoid of a windshield and air for its tires.

Again with the next building we started from the top and worked our way down. On the top floor of building #2 we found boxes of old records in the elevator's mechanical room.

As we continued our downward exploration, we came upon more offices and the building's lobby, where a broken glass display case featured only one award:

Simultaneous Self Portraits:

The lobby lead to long hallways followed by more laboratories.

Eventually we reached a series of rooms with maroon carpet and 70's style wood paneled walls. Stepping into a section with a large table and a collection of chalkboards and empty chairs surrounding it, we agreed that it must have been a "board room" of sorts. 8 track tapes and an old television reflected the same era of the room's decor.

On a nearby shelf was by far the most eye catching historical remnant, a December 1972 issue of Playboy magazine:

Despite the magazine's brittle and water damaged condition, you know that we couldn't help but take a look inside...

- "Bunny-Playmate MERCY ROONEY -- A neophyte rodeo fan -- has her hopes for the future riding on an acting career." [Playboy Magazine, December 1972]

"Jeffrey, real or fake?" I jokingly asked as we gazed at the centerfold who is now 59 years old, but was 22 when the photo was taken. "Definitely real." he replied. "They didn't have a surgery for fake ones back then." Actually Jeffrey, they did.

A collection of vintage items like those in your grandparent's or parent's closet (maybe even your own) continued to be found in the form of an Electrolux vacuum, Husman's potato chip can and an Underwood typewriter.

Not to mention, the old school skateboard:

The temperature dropped and the daylight began to disappear. Checking one last time to make sure we weren't going to come upon any "tangos" like last year, we departed the Research Division.


  1. LULZ on the skateboard picture.
    Another great post, one day I'm gonna trail you guys all "Herc" style.

  2. Hey cool, my friend's stepdad owns that complex and I was allowed to go there for a DAAP project.

    I was the person who put the typewriter on the couch!!

    These are the other photos I liked best while I was there:



  3. I like Husman's Potato Chips specifically because they're easy to digest.

  4. They're still real...
    Good write up sir.
    Great Job.

  5. I've been looking at this place for years wondering if i could go up there. But all the cars made me think people were there, now I want to go up and look at them all.

  6. @5chw4r7z:
    - Now that you got that new camera we're definitely going to work something out. I think I have a location in mind, something new.

    - Cool photos, I guess those were your polaroids we found everywhere. What kind of project were you doing?

    - I was unlikely to ever buy Husman's Potato Chips (you know I love Grippo's BBQ combined with Hudy 14k), but now that I see that they're easy to digest I may have to reconsider.

    - You're the #1 Roller Rager, my friend.

    @Goofy Robo:
    - We didn't see it all and it's a cool place, but just remember what happened to us a year ago, others visit too and you may not want to encounter them.

  7. Yep, I think I left all the polaroids I didn't like/were too blurry/were too dark just strewn around every building. I figure with all the trash, it would matter, and then maybe some later explorer could possibly want them :)

    I was filming footage for my senior thesis in digital design. I was doing 3 title sequences of different styles for the same movie/theme. And then took a lot of pictures on the side.

    My boyfriend also took a lot on the side of being my prop guy, extremely detailed digital photos more like you:

    It's cool to see other people have found this. But I do know that the owners stop by there at least once a month, so beware. They have keys to the fences, so if you see those open, then you know who is there for sure. People selling scrap metal go there a bit, too, but they have to climb through the fence hole like normal explorers.

  8. Can someone PLEASE tell me where this place is. I live just 2 miles from Cincinnati, I've tried to find it on google, but theres not much information on it at all. PLEASE HELP ME OUT! thank you


  9. where is this?!

  10. awesome.. cool photography.. really liked it..

  11. I've been mystified by this place too, now apparently used as a car junkyard. Apparently this was Quantum Chemical up until the 1980's. Address is 1265 section. County Auditor site has some docs on it being evaluated for rehab and resale, etc...