Willson Elementary School. Cleveland, Ohio.

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Welcome to this weeks post regarding our friendly neighborhood elementary school, Willson.

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Built in 1903 by architect Frank S. Barnum, this K-8 Cleveland historic landmark got it’s name due to the street it faced (Willson) before the street itself was renamed in 1905.

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May 5th 2010, Cleveland Metropolitan School District announces that 25 schools will be closed, 5 will be rebuilt and the remaining 20 will be sold, with the exception of Woodhill Quincy Admin Building. Being a resident of Cleveland, Ohio my entire life… it was hard to watch these buildings go. I lived on W. 41st since birth, and watched Orchard Elementary come, go, and come back once more.

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Although I live a little far from Willson, I am writing this post solely for the fact of accomplishment and slight bitter feelings. How you ask? I went to the school 4 days ago to take more photos and look for USA maps, only to find that Willson has been boarded up and sealed shut as of yesterday. I cant say this is the first building I’ve cursed with getting sealed, but I know it wont be the last. I am just happy to have had one last hurrah in these lonesome hallways.

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Five years of neglect has taken its toll on these withered floorboards and empty rooms, but we will forever remember this building in its entirety.

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I suppose it is best for the building and neighbors that it be sealed, seeing as how this has become a common ground for vandals and graffiti artists and has recently been destroyed in separate rooms.

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The neighbors may now sleep in peace without the constant sound of breaking glass and bowling pins being smashed around.

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During my most recent trip to Willson, bowling pins were smashed against the walls, broken into pieces. Maps and chalkboards were ripped apart and smashed off of the walls. It is really saddening that vandals have to destroy things to have “fun.”

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I think the saddest part about this closure is the fact that our old Cleveland friend who painted “Perch” will forever be locked behind these boards until the building comes down. Our graffiti friend, “Perch” lost his life a few years ago, and whenever a piece of his is found we have a habit of posting them to show our respect.

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This is a closure that truly hits close to home.

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Between the hundreds of photos people have to share and the handful of music videos filmed in this auditorium, it will be hard to stay away.

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Here is to hoping Cleveland does it’s part to help rebuild and revitalize this structure into something the community can be apart of once more.

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As with any explore, I add caution. Aside from being boarded recently (if you are not phased by this) the ceilings are crumbling very rapidly on the upper floors. The roof is actually really well preserved given the circumstances, but the drop ceilings have had their fun. Hallways are littered with rain water/ice depending the weather, and broken glass. There is mold and beginning stages of asbestos as well.

Goodbye Willson and Perch.
You both will forever be remembered.

Knox County Infirmary (Poor House)

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Atop a hill in Mt. Vernon Ohio, sits a structure so eerie, so massive, so mesmerizing. 132 acres of land occupied by a 400,000 square foot gothic style structure that still sits today, crumbling piece by piece.

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Back in 1816, a legislative act was passed to aid in purchasing land to build houses and shelter for the destitute. A poor house if you will. With a little under 100 rooms and 4 floors, these once jam-packed halls peel away from themselves and the floors sink further and further with each passing day.

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Originally built in 1875, the Knox County Poor House gave aid to those whom couldn’t help themselves. Majority of this building accommodated the elderly and with a few years passing, homelessness was at an astounding rate that lead to the expansion of the housing facilities.

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Too many homeless in the poor house, not enough staff to go around, do you see where this becomes problematic? Although no more room was available to house the needy, talk of expansion finally came to light and was stopped abruptly in Sept. 1877 during construction.

The floors that sank kept on sinking, inevitably leading to collapse of many main floors. Not pictured is a collapsed floor with a lonely dresser still clinging on for dear life, needless to say we have been asked to push it down so it will not cause injury to anyone on the site.

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Shortly after the poor house mission, the building was converted into an infirmary which was later closed in 1958 due to structural damage.

Opening any door will lead you to your death. One-step death fall.

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After the infirmary closing, Mount Vernon Bible College was opened on the property and quickly shut down. Its as if nothing was meant to last on these grounds.

Every staircase you encounter leaves your chest heavy. They rust, they crack, they break. So brittle and thin, and the absence of railings doesn’t help that slight nauseous feeling you get mid climb.

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For one last hurrah, a haunted house called “The House of Nightmares” opened in the late 1990’s and lasted until 2007 when structural damage became too dangerous and apparent.

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Haunted house flyers and creepy props still litter the hallways, and have even settled among the debris in the death pit.

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Its a special feeling you get when you see the paint peeling off of walls, floors sinking and stairs collapsing that leaves you truly speechless. A feeling that leaves your mind to put back the dilapidated pieces to picture the structure in its glory days. Is it the beauty in the wonder of what once was? Or the beauty in the view of what is? I guess you would say beauty is in the eye of the viewer.

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The Knox County Infirmary is a magnificent structure that will forever glow in the sunlight. Whether the building is active, or the floors collapse and the trees grow through the door frames, this is one structure that will truly leave you in awe.

As with any post I must add the dangers..

The floors sink more and more each day, bricks fall from every angle, the stairs shake and crumble under your feet, and god only knows what may happen next.

The Broadway (aka Sattler) Theater

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Location, location, location. Had this been followed in the making, the Sattler could be alive and flourishing today.

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In the early 1900’s Mr. John Sattler, a local business man in Buffalo, decided to further his professional career by opening a theater during the movie theater boom of 1910. Prior to doing so, Sattler had founded one of the first known department stores in the country.

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So what was the reason for the downfall of the Sattler? Was it because it was situated in a bad neighborhood? No, it all comes down to the competition between theaters throughout the boom that left this one in the dust. Being on the outskirts of the nightlife has its downfalls.

The above photo shows the original theater seats after the debut in 1914, all other seats were installed shortly before the closing.

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When Sattler had decided to open this building, he had hired Henry and William Spann to build on the site of the old Casino Theater. The layout of the building was different from competitors, seeing as how the Sattler had no stage. Once able to seat 1200 people, now falls apart and stands alone.

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The year is now 1920 and John Sattler had given up his theater life and the building then became the Broadway Theater. There is little information to go by after the closure of Sattler, except for the fact that a pipe organ was installed in the time of vacancy.

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The building sat empty for a handful of decades, until the wave of church movements that passed the area. Muhammed’s Mosque 23 opened their doors in the building in 1960 and stayed until 1970 when God’s Holy Temple took over in ’70 and stayed for the next decade, lastly welcoming the Joy Temple from 1980 until the buildings closure in 1996. In the twelve years following, the building is left to collect dust and rot away. Sattler was bought in 2008, and sat until 2011 without any plans of reconstructing until recent owners head on determination.

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My group was lucky enough to have scored an appointment with the new owners, paying but a small donation fee. Owners are currently accepting donations toward the rebuild of the new theater, which you can add to at www.thebroadwaytheatre.net, every bit helps. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible.

Austintown Fitch High School

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After first being inhabited by Native Americans, the year 1788 sweeps in a man named Calvin Austin, a land agent for the Connecticut Land Company. Under new occupancy, the township was given the name “Austintown” which still stands today.

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The towns first settler, John McCollum arrived and by 1820, the towns population grew to 718. Coal miners and their families help increase the population to 2,502 by 1880, but a sky rocket in population took place after World War II. With all of these new families, a concern about adequate schooling came to light bringing forth consolidation from 12 one-room school houses into one large school and then eventually into 8 individual school buildings.

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These 8 buildings still stand part in Austintown’s historical identity.

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Austintown’s earliest schools were subscription schools, requiring $1.50 per child each term, but later in 1852, Ohio introduced tax-payer supported public schools for each township. 1916 is the year that the 8 school houses consolidate into one building once more, serving grades 1-9, becoming the Austintown Centralized School.

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6 years after consolidation, the school added grades 10-12 and by March 17th, 1924 Austintown Centralized School was renamed to Austintown Fitch School. John H. Fitch, born in 1843 west of Austintown Center, donated 8 of his 400 acre land on Mahoning Avenue for a new school.

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On a gloomy night, we made our way to Austintown only to stumble upon this beauty, abandoned schools are my favorite.

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Its almost unreal how all windows to this building are still intact, no breeze throughout the hallways leaves a very wholesome feeling in the soul. Circling these corridors endlessly while hearing pouring water down each stair well gives off a slight eerie ambiance.

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From the outside, you wouldn’t even believe this school is abandoned. The outside is so beautifully kept up, the grass trimmed neatly, the windows all in tact, on a quaint little street in the heart of Austintown.

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Desks and chairs stacked throughout the hallways, books and rooms fashioned so neatly as if the doors shut one day… and never opened again.

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The football field behind the school stands lonesome, yet well kept. Bleachers have overgrown and rusted, yet the scoreboard was reset when the doors closed. Old bus garages are still present, but sealed up tight. I have no doubt in my mind that this was a beautifully crafted school when it was open.

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As always, I will end this with warning. I do not recommend going to this school, as enticing as it may seem. This place is no joke to visit. Aside from regular dangers, such as scrapper activity, police activity, loose ceilings, floorboards and water damage, this building comes equipped with its own scare tactics. The top floor has a few rooms with open windows, and that breeze helps make the most horrifying noise you would never want to hear. I will be working harder than ever to get my old stories back on this page, but until then i will be posting accordingly. There are many more explores on the horizon and not to mention the Planet Perish // The Ancient Future art festival meet and greet in June. Thank you to all of my fans and supporters. You make this site run.

Big news from Planet Perish & The Ancient Future!

First things first, welcome to the OFFICIAL Planet Perish website courtesy of Bill Finan! Planetperish.blog.com has recently went down and was not able to be salvaged. I will be working harder than ever to get the rest of my older stories back up but until then, I come prepared with great news. Planet Perish and Ryan of The Ancient Future have been invited to partake in the fifth annual Festival at the Falls-three day weekend in New York in June! We will have our own booth set up for meet and greets along with art for sale. When I have more information on where we will be situated, I will post accordingly. We are soooooo incredibly excited for this opportunity, seeing as how 25-30,000 people will be attending.

I also have a few items up for sale on my online store at the top right hand corner of my page, if anyone is interested.

Thank you to everyone who has shown interest in my work, along with my group’s work over the past year, and I am so humbled to find people have been paying attention to my blog and now website.

xoxo – Chellsea of Planet Perish.

St. Mary’s Manor, Niagara Gazette Interview

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After I had posted my entry pertaining to the St. Mary’s Manor in Niagara Falls, NY, i was contacted by the Niagara Gazette to conduct an interview about our experience in the building. Here are the official pages from the paper! I hope everyone has enjoyed the posts and I am willing to accept suggestions for explores near you!

xoxo
Planet Perish – Chellsea Ward

St. Mary’s Manor – Nursing Home

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It began as an 119 bed nursing home in the heart of Niagara Falls, New York, and ended as an empty shell in 2004. 114,000 square feet of breathtaking architecture, forgotten beds and medical equipment, such an honor to have had the chance to explore before renovations. Not much information has been shed on the building, but here are some of the first looks of the inside of the building.

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Six stories, with a view of Canada’s skyline, the falls and Niagara’s Casino. A massive brick eye-sore to the community, but a massive brick play ground for die-hard explorers like myself.

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Upon our arrival, previously scouted the night before, we aimlessly explore this beauty’s never ending hallways and units for hours. Time is irrelevant when you’re busy having fun. It was about 30 degrees in New York at this time, therefore making it about 15 degrees in this building. A freezing group of explorers stumble across this hidden chapel in the building, all I hear from the end of the hallway is “Oh my god, this room!”, I was not disappointed.

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The sunlight beamed through the circular windows at the top of the chapel, and lit up old bibles and church songs scattered across the floor.

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Water damage from the roof inevitably led to black ice that took me out, waterfalls throughout the hallways and icicles hanging from anything it got ahold of. Paint falls off of the abandoned walls, these are some of my favorite things to see.

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Tubs that once bathed the elderly still stand well preserved, the doors still open up and I believe they should not be destroyed.

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Its crazy to see what is still left behind in these vacant walls. Being outside of this building sparks curiosity, being inside sparks wonder and excitement.

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Excessive damage to the building eats away at the structure, heres to hoping this renovation does not take away from the history or the beauty.

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Be grateful for your youth, seeing the extent of what the elderly have to go to makes you want to stay young forever. Props to them for being so strong in their later days.

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Open floors with windows looking out to Canada’s skyline.

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Yes, thats the Canadian Needle you see way back there. WE WERE SO CLOSE!

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Literal “wheel-chair’s” litter the hallways while beds and desks reside where they were left, fully untouched.

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You can never really get enough of staircases.

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The elevator is sealed up for good, while everything falls apart around it.

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Where the patients used to relax and look out into the distance, now sits to endure the weather.

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Beautiful french doors separate the rooms, while curtains wait to be closed once more.

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Now I know this post hasn’t really taught you anything about St. Mary’s, but I want to take a minute to now recognize something much bigger than this building. There is no way I would have even been in New York this weekend if it weren’t for a sponsor who picked us up off of the internet and gave us this opportunity. Huge thank you to Emily Christensen for recognizing our passion and supporting us through our art, and for putting us up in a hotel so we can explore something closer to her heart and home. Never have I been graced with so much hospitality from someone I didn’t know. Emily avidly supports artists to flourish and I am very blessed to have been a part of her plan. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this trip, and thank you to everyone who views this post and supports what we do on the daily. This is not a hobby, this is a lifestyle and our livelihood.

Last but not least, I do not recommend trying to enter this building. It is heavily sealed, and located on a semi-busy street. We happened upon this building with such luck that we only had one way in and out. Trespassers will be prosecuted if caught and inexperienced explorers will have a hard time getting in. Enter at your own risk.

Western State Lunatic Asylum

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July 24th 1828, an evil place is born.

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Around 1825, dramatic changes to Virginia roads and transportation occur making it easier to transport patients to this 22 building complex. In the early times, this resort like asylum was equipped with terraced gardens where it was believed patients could find peace to help aid their illnesses, but soon after.. this peaceful environment began to introduce straight jackets and wrist and ankle chains.

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By 1905 Joseph DeJarnette, a well known eugenicist, became hospital director and introduced electroshock therapy and lobotomies. After the Eugenical Sterilization Act of 1924 was implemented, the “one drop” rule was in full effect until the 70′s, forcing all colored people including native americans to be sterilized, even criminalizing interracial marriages.

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1970 marks the last year of the asylums operation after moving to their present location near Interstate 81, the sight then became the Staunton Correctional Center. The prison was then shut down in 2003 and in 2005 handed over to Staunton Industrial Authority to begin the construction of high-dollar condominiums called “The Villages at Staunton.”

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At first when we learned we were heading to Virginia to see a staircase in an asylum, we all questioned why we would care… but boy were we blown away. In the heart of this vacant asylum lies a massive structure, a staircase that led to an eagles nest and awesome look-out of Staunton. Making our way down these long corridors only to see this beauty, it truly took us all by storm, then after realizing that this was the last staircase left, your heart sinks. All of the other buildings have been gutted for remodel, bye bye beautiful. The way the light shined upon the stairs during the sunrise, the colors projecting on the walls in this building, it weighed heavy on the soul. This was something I will never forget.

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Off to the side of the staircase were rooms with big bay windows and fireplaces that reflected the Virginia sunrise off the bright blue walls. I guess these were the desired rooms to be in, seeing as how the rest have locked panels on them for patient contact.

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In the hallways, stray bathtubs sit waiting to be destroyed. Weird to think that 50 or so years ago, patients were being supervised in these very tubs, making sure not to drown themselves to escape this prison they called a hospital.

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Bathrooms left untouched with pipes stemming from the ground.

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The hallways never end. Every which way you look leads to more hallways, and more patient rooms with even more padlocks and room numbers. The paint peels away from the walls, trying to get away from the horrors its seen.

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The doors that would slam behind you come with complimentary windows so you could be monitored without the luxury of freedom. Each room identical in size and amenities without the exception of room numbers.

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The architecture in this place is beyond amazing. The way the staircases curl around themselves, or the way the ceilings loom over you so high up, the never ending hallways and the pillars that hold the structure together. Its truly a work of art.

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A long red carpet extends through the heart of the asylum, shockingly enough leading to the hallway of horrors. Each room on this floor locked off with fiberglass windows and heavy metal doors with padlocks. As if these were the star patients, perhaps the most ill.

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The natural light illuminates the entire building although the light fixtures and chandeliers are still perfectly preserved, the breaker box was disconnected for renovations.

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After seeing this building in this condition, and how eerily set up it is, I can only imagine how beautiful the condominiums will be.

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Like previously stated, some of the complex had been renovated into a prison where you can still see the cages around the levels today. Razor wire and bulletproof glass surround the entire perimeter, making it very enticing for explorers, however there is no suitable entry way into the building.

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What was once a beautiful and peaceful hospital, turned asylum, then prison now lies alone caged off from the world.

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On the outer ends of the property, an old guard tower stands watch over the land and faces the hill with over 3000 unmarked patient graves. Amongst the uniform headstones are a few marked graves from the burials of doctors whom wanted to be buried with their patients. Not everyone was as evil as Dr. DeJarnette. All in all, this was one of the most unforgettable explores to date. As far as visiting goes, I say if you know how to get in, see it before its too late. These buildings will be under construction within the next few months, and I do know that the current condo residents do not appreciate outsiders. Be careful and enjoy.

Fredericksburg Renaissance Faire

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Roughly 60 miles away from our nations capitol, a mysterious sight is left to face the weather and the wild that has marked its territory. Amidst the “Sherwood Forest” as locals like to refer it as, lies the property once owned by the mother of our long departed leader, Mr. George Washington. Originally bought by the Renaissance Entertainment Corporation, the land was constructed to resemble that of a medieval fair ground, and after a short 3 years (1996-1999) about $5 million dollars were poured into this project and left for the earth to reclaim. Not only did the ticket sales suck, but as did the location for the park. The last known owners of the park had purchased the land for approximately $1.3 million dollars, and it is currently for sale after owners filed bankruptcy.

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After a long morning making our way into some of Virginia’s finest abandonment, we figured we’d make our way to the Faire since we had already come this far… being from Ohio and all. Parking our car in the middle of the woods, praying to everything we wouldn’t get stuck or shot at, I say this because the park is so conveniently located on the outskirts of a VERY active hunting ground. Our entry consisted of a blanket of burrs, thorny branches being smacked in all of our faces, and very apparent gun shots in the distance. I guess you deserve these things when you break the rules, BUT WE DID IT FOR THE ART!

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After our encounter with the elements, we find ourselves casually and quietly strolling down an open path leading to the side of the park where OF COURSE theres a car sitting next to one of the dilapidated structures, facing away from us, waiting for something cool to happen. We seem to always find ourselves in the presence of security guards who never notice we’re there until we’re gone. While keeping our voices low, and our footsteps quiet, we stumble across the heart of the land. More than a dozen buildings still sit, rotting away and being swallowed by the forest.

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The castle like structures are very apparent in the bigger buildings, making you feel like you truly took a step back into time. This medieval-like set of structures give off a very calm aura, a very peaceful place to spend an afternoon for sure.

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Although the park was structured to resemble that of the renaissance era, you can really get a sense of authenticity from the accuracy from the construction of each building. By using stones as outer decor, alongside tall towers, pyramid caps for roofing and criss-cross reinforcement, you begin to feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale.

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Along the backside of the park, a massive building stands which was once used as a concession stand / restroom / recreation center. Tables and benches still remain inside, although the rest of the building was gutted and the top floor had collapsed.

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Vines wrap around many of the buildings, subtly disguising them in the forrest. I guess if no one wants to spend the money to buy the land, then mother nature will reclaim it for free. How ’bout them apples.

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By far my favorite sight of this visit has to be the docked pirate ship. Its not everyday you find a ship in the middle of the forest but ther’es a first for everything! The land side of the ship is actually attached to the grounds and was constructed to be something like a stage for performances during the parks glory days.

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We were very lucky to have successfully made this trip possible, but you know I have to give out fair warnings! If you so plan to visit this park, like I previously stated… it is on active hunting grounds and they are more than allowed to shoot on their property. Along with being sketchy already, there are multitudes of no trespassing signs that will make it VERY hard to get yourself out of trouble. Finally, to top off this sketch fest, as also previously stated, the land is riddled with brutal thorn bushes, burrs as far as the eye can see, and hostile creatures such as ticks, mosquitoes, WILD TURKEY, and god only knows what else. If you are brave enough, I wish you the best of luck and suggest you wear a bright color, bugspray, long pants and boots and have fun!

Planet Perish: Virginia Madness

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Planet Perish: Virginia Madness

A weekend in Virginia packed full with adventures from Western State Asylum/ Prison, Abandoned Fredricksburg Renaissance Faire, and Virginia Torture House. More information on these stories will be posted throughout the week and you can also read about them at architecturalafterlife.com. More photos at IG: planetperish, facebook: Danny Ohh Photo, IG: the_ancient_future. Stay tuned for more explores, if you’ve got local abandonment, let us know!

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About Planet Perish

Ohio urban explorers documenting forgotten structures. Tell us about your local abandonment at planetperish@yahoo.com
 
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