Gosh these pictures are stunning. I have always been fascinated by – well actually in love with – derelict beauty, particularly in the form of abandoned buildings (you may remember I recently gushed over the 100 abandoned houses project). A brief self-examination of my life lead me to believe that said fascination may have originated from one of my favourite childhood books - Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, which I read many, many times as a little one.
A friend was looking through these images of abandoned theatres in the US with me and she commented ‘they are so exquisitely beautiful but so exquisitely sad’. I agreed but then I realised that for me their absolute beauty was actually due to their derelictness. As a perfect, polished theatre each would of course be beautiful but in this slightly dumfounding, enigmatic, haunting state, their beauty becomes even more intense because it is there but it is distorted and therefore mysterious.
The one thing that is undeniably sad though it that they have even come to this: a state of unloved disrepair. The irony is that as theatres built during more buoyant times, as places to gather together to socialise and be entertained and fascinated, many of them carry proud, flamboyant signs with words like ‘main’ and ‘queen’ and ‘grand’. These are words which denote a place of importance; something vital to the community. For Effingham in Illinois a theatre was literally its ‘heart’.
*Images from various sources. See here for credits and original image story.