There is something romantically haunting about the South. Large, twisty ancient oaks arc over roadways. Wispy Spanish moss creeps down from their branches, swaying like ghosts in the breeze. The region's tumultuous past only lengthens the shadow cast upon its landscape. Harmonious romantic notions stem from books and films that retell tales of gallant gentlemen and their ladies fair (yes, I'm referencing Gone with the Wind). An abundance of abandoned buildings littered throughout the Lowcountry emphasizes these themes. Perhaps they are part of rural America's culture. Though, in the cornfields of Illinois, I do not remember seeing such structures. Nevertheless they are part of Southern life.
Somehow, their presence never seems frightening or eerie. When I stumble upon these forgotten fortresses, I feel the same sense of calm and mystery that tends to overcome me at cemeteries. More than anything, abandoned buildings pique my curiosity. I wonder what led them to such a fate. Some have logical explanations, like the boat below which was transplanted when land became sea during Hurricane Hugo. Once the water receded, the Lil Bounty, and many other vessels, remained permanently beached.
Other buildings have likely been left behind due to economic hardships or deaths. I find irony in how quickly nature begins to take over abandoned structures. I imagine what the parcel looked like prior to man deciding to construct a building upon it. Perhaps it was a meadow with wildflowers and grasses growing tall. Or it had a widespread tree shading the earth below. A looming, dark forest full of fragrant pines might have been ferociously cleared to make room for a house or gas station. And now, after man has finished his need for the space, nature returns to reclaim its stake. Weeds and tree branches slowly creep up camouflaging bricks, siding, and window panes.
The structures above were all photographed from the road. While I noticed this church from the same vantage point, I felt compelled to take a closer look. I can explain away the states of the various buildings above. However, the church still puzzles me. Due to the instability of the structure, I didn't dare go inside. However, from its doorway I saw a centrally placed, back-lit piano. It seemed to be suffering from the same deterioration as its surroundings. I can understand that the congregation may have run out of money and thus abandoned the building, but why leave the piano? My imagination (as it often tends to) got the best of me leading me to wonder if, under a sliver of a palmetto moon, a passing visitor hears the haunting notes of piano music ringing out from the glass-less windows...