Around here we always think it is neat when we dig through an old drawer or closet and find something unexpected that takes our thoughts back to previous stages of our lives. It is like when you are looking for a beach chair, and you find a photo album from your childhood.
Some folks at a college in England were doing some restoration work on campus and uncovered a treasure trove of ephemera from a bygone era. What they found is amazing.
A maintenance crew working at Cambridge University’s Selwyn College were performing routine remodeling work on one of the buildings on campus recently, and when they started to knock down a wall, they made a fantastic find, worthy of the archaeology department.
When they removed a wall from one room, they uncovered an alcove, referred to in the UK as a “Gyp.” this small room was used by staff who would prepare toast and tea for the students every morning. In this room, the maintenance crew found a victorian era cast iron stove, and more importantly, a stash of postcards and letters belonging to workers from a bygone era.
Based on the stamps, the letters date between 1912 and 1916, according to Selwyn College’s Archivist, and they provide a fascinating glimpse into life on campus from over a century ago.
The school plans to display the stove, letters and a photograph of the campus chapel to help contemporary students understand the history of their school. Meanwhile, the archivist is in the process of trying to identify the persons to whom the ephemera belonged. She hopes then, to be able to track down descendants and share the find with them as well.
This reminds us of a Mississippi house that was abandoned thirty years ago. A photographer recently investigated it. As he explored the house and documented each room in pictures, a sad narrative to came into focus. But even with the eerie atmosphere, there is a mysterious beauty to the home as you will see in these pictures.
The house is not remarkably cluttered. It has certainly seen better days, with the paint peeling inside and out, and the roof collapsing in some upstairs rooms. What makes it so spooky is the house’s sense of “lived in-ness”. It is fully furnished and family photos are everywhere. As you travel from room to room, you see a slice of daily life, as if the homeowner stepped out to retrieve the morning paper and never came back.
While rummaging through the various rooms, the photographer stumbled upon documents and letters that may offer to shed some light on the fate of its former occupants. Included in the papers were a divorce agreement and letters of solicitation from the owner to various celebrities, asking them to come and rent rooms to help the owner make ends meet.
The photographer, identified as “Bullet” went on to say “’It’s hard to tell what happened, but you can piece together a story by the various documents throughout the home.There are letters dealing with divorce, her marriage, letters to famous actors asking them to come live with her. It looks like the owner just got up and left.”
In another room, he found a collection of dolls to whom time has not been kind, and pictures of children, suggesting that, at one time, the halls were resounding with laughter and play.
Bullet’s work is what is known in artistic terms as “ruin porn,” and has taken to some very sketchy locales for inspiration, however this home even set the experienced explorer of the derelict on edge, saying “I was scared at one point because the ceiling above us shifted around and I thought it was going to collapse on us.”
There is an undeniable beauty in the decomposing hulk that once housed a presumably happy family.
Do you have a home like this in your town? Is there a place so full of mystery that neighbors concoct stories to explain the inexplicable, where you live? Please share your thoughts with us here.