An astounding number of historic structures disappear each year simply because the owners have stopped caring for them. Known as “demolition by neglect”, the phenomenon is on the rise. Recognizing that old buildings are instrumental in giving shape and character to specific locales (a sense of place), many cities have adopted ordinances to force property owners to maintain and repair structures in peril, typically with mixed results. This is not so likely to happen in rural areas where preservation consciousness is not high and certainly not organized. In these areas, neglected properties are merely viewed as “blighted” and not as potential resources; legal tactics will be used to ensure demolition rather than to prevent it.
The following images are of rural structures which are virtually guaranteed to be destroyed, either by continued willful neglect or the process known as “nuisance abatement“.
Boarded windows are often the last bit of attention an empty structure gets.
This church building has been neglected for a very long time.
A view of the side, with an addition. The condition of the roof and visible structural issues virtually guarantee that the building will not get a second chance.
Small town storefront, c. 1870’s.
Detail of cast iron columns and wood panels on the storefront above.
The buildings in the foreground have been stripped of their cornices and the are most vulnerable; those beyond have a much better chance for survival.
In a rare and heartwarming example, someone has gone to the effort of stabilizing these c.1880 storefronts. This, in addition to the repaired roof, will continue to buy time for a while longer. There is still a chance for these buildings to live again!
Two cast iron and stamped metal storefronts, c. 1890, and a brick storefront, c. 1925, were victims of years of neglect. A bulldozer finished the process last summer.