A Letter From Our Friends, “S & D” + 7 Photos

Posted in Abandoned House, Lambton County with tags , , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by countybandits

We received a great email from a blog reader the other day. I enjoyed it so much, I wrote back and asked for permission to share it on our blog. The author was gracious enough to allow us to do so. We would love if more of our fans would email us and share stories and photos that we can post here! Please email us at county.bandits@gmail.com or leave us a comment with your email address.

Cheers,

~Bandit

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Good morning County Bandits!

I have been admiring your website/Facebook page for a couple months and even visiting some of the places you’ve posted. My girlfriend and I definitely share the same interest when it comes to old forgotten places. My name is “S” and I am from St. Thomas, if you’re unfamiliar with the city it’s about 20 minutes south of London. My girlfriend “D” was living in Sarnia, so we were constantly back and forth!

In our travels (we alternate from back roads/the highway) we’re constantly keeping an eye out for places we can explore. Although, we don’t take such beautiful pictures as yourself we always have a Kodak disposable camera on hand!

Recently, we discovered a house half way between London & Sarnia! I was thrilled because as soon as I saw it drew me in, however “D” didn’t think it was abandoned but still turned around so I could go fulfill my desires. Upon pulling up there were logs in front of the drive way blocking any vehicles from pulling in. I got out to check it out and doing so provided me with the confirmation that it was abandoned. Grass was over grown, there were things in the yard, the big two story brick house was no longer being cared for. Somebody had put a brick and a coffee can in front of the screen door almost to sign to keep people out. There were hand painted ‘keep out’/’no trespassing’/’private property’ signs that made me think of who the person was that painted those signs and why they left.

We were traveling to Sarnia to do a few things and return to St. Thomas so we decided that we would come back at night to avoid any trouble. When we returned it was so dark due to no street lights and lack of the moon, it scared me! It’s unusual for both of us to be a little freaked out. After pulling up to the house and turning the car lights completely off, I had such weird feelings about going in. I must say, the entire time I continued to want to contact you guys! So, I hopped on my phone and went through your entire website and Facebook page and from what I’ve seen, you didn’t have the house posted. I also checked a few other websites and I was absolutely thrilled when I couldn’t find it anywhere.

So, I was just curious if you guys ever meet up with anybody else to explore or even chat about the places you’ve been. If so, maybe we could check this location out together.

I have included some pictures of places we’ve visited.

Looking forward to hearing from you, “S”

[Here are the photos that "S & D" sent along of different locations they have explored. We love them! Thank you SO much!]

Abandoned Place 031_31 033_33 034_34 035_35 040_40 573_10152240642080007_443886801_n

32 Previously Unposted Photos from Lambton County

Posted in Abandoned House, Commentary, Lambton County with tags , , , , , on October 27, 2012 by countybandits

Our county.bandits@gmail.com email has been exploding lately. People have been liking our Facebook page, messaging us, and leaving comments on the blog. We even had our first donation to the gas fund! Thank you SO MUCH “mccfrank”! We apologize for being absent and leaving the blog idle for months; it’s never our intent, but life always finds a way to becoming increasingly busy. Seeing all the likes, comments, messages and traffic volume that has been coming to the blog has rekindled our passion for abandoned house hunting, and I promise you that we will be back on the trail as soon as the snow flies. Thank you to all our fans who continue to support us, even when we are off being consumed by our jobs and far-less-fun obligations.

I decided to take a peek in the County Bandits folder on my desktop and see if there were any more photos I’d not yet posted. Jackpot. I found a folder containing 32 wonderful photos from Lambton County, spanning from just around Dresden, to Petrolia and Sarnia region. Without further ado, I will post them here for your enjoyment. These were all taken in January of 2011.

This first brick home sat not far from Dresden, if I recall correctly. It’s a beautiful Ontario Farmhouse complete with lightning rods and a detailed porch. The strange thing about this place, and little bit creepy, was the coffin shaped wooden box sitting on that porch!

Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe this ‘abandoned’ mansion in Petrolia. This is the Sunnyside Mansion, built in 1891 by the Fairbank family. Situated on a main road in Petrolia, the home is a familiar site to many people from Southwestern Ontario. At the time these photos were taken, the home was empty but possibly being restored or worked on. There had been a fire and rumor had it that there was a fight going on with the insurance company, so progress was at a standstill. As of today, I honestly couldn’t tell you what the progress is or how the house is looking. There are several websites dedicated to the history of this home; google “Sunnyside Mansion Petrolia” or “Fairbank Mansion Petrolia” to learn more about it.

The Accomplice and I have a fondness for yellow brick Victorian homes, as you may have noticed by now. This Lambton County home, in the Sarnia region, has been a longtime favorite of ours. It’s absolutely stunning and the fact that it has been left to rot makes us feel ill. Inside, the floors are completely rotted away; the last time we stopped in to check on the place the porch had nearly fallen off the back. Such a shame. I hope the place is still standing because it is truly magnificent.

These final two homes are also in the rural surrounds of Sarnia, just down the same road from each other. The little wood sided home is very quaint and sealed up tight, marked no trespassing. All we did was photograph it from the road to be respectful of the posted warnings. The brick Victorian farmhouse just up the road was visited by us on several occasions, and there are more photographs of it somewhere. The basement was full of canning jars, most of them still filled with ancient preserves. The main level was trashed completely, with all the cupboard doors in the kitchen thrown open, drawers hanging out, newspapers, food, garbage strewn around the floor… all the furniture upside down and so on. The upper level was no better. I imagine trespassers had done this to the home, but there were bottles of anti-psychotic medications mixed in with the debris littering the kitchen. One will never know what the real story was here.

Thanks again to our fans and supporters for never losing interest in our abandoned house hunting adventures. We promise there’s more to come.

Cheers,

~Bandit

Six Houses from Chatham-Kent, Lambton & Middlesex Counties

Posted in Abandoned House, Chatham-Kent, Lambton County on December 28, 2011 by countybandits

The Accomplice and I went out for a daytime tour back in early November and were able to photograph six beautiful abandoned houses. Some were already known to us, and a few were brand new discoveries that made our hearts beat a little bit faster when we spotted them. Our absolute favorite house from this tour was near London, somewhere in the country just outside of the town of Lobo (a town I had no idea existed until the moment we drove through it). But, first things first! I will post the photos in the order which we photographed them.

This small brick farmhouse sits along Highway 2, now known as Longwoods Road. The Accomplice and I first discovered it back in 2007, and at that time we stopped and explored the property. It appeared that the house was being used by the owner but wasn’t inhabited. We did not venture any further at that time and never managed to take any photos of the place until now, even though we have passed it countless times in our normal travels. There are several barns on the property, and I used to admire the lightning rod balls on the smaller barn. When taking these pictures, I noticed someone had removed the lightning rods entirely from that barn. I’d like to believe it was the property owner, but the more likely situation is that it was copper thieves. Unfortunately I’ve noticed lightning rods disappearing from lots of abandoned places lately.

Taking decent photos of this impressive yellow brick Ontario farmhouse was a nearly impossible task. Located just off Courtright Line, the property was covered in giant mature trees that obscured most of the house. The only way I would have been able to get better photos would be to walk onto the property itself, which I wasn’t too keen on since it was the middle of the day and neighbors are close by. I had seen this house on a few trips to Grand Bend and Goderich, and admired it more and more each time I saw it. These yellow brick houses are my favorite and I’m jealous that those of us in Kent County don’t get to enjoy them like those in Lambton.

The third house we came across is the one I spoke of at the beginning of this post. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe someone had left it abandoned to rot away. It it simply one of the most beautiful houses I have ever laid eyes upon. The Accomplice and I dream about buying this one and saving it, but I’m afraid that’s just a dream. There is a hole in the roof and things are going downhill quickly for this beauty. I’m just glad we were able to take photographs of it and enjoy it before it’s gone. The amount of detailed gingerbread trim on this house and the incredible front door make me all the more sad that no one cares enough to fix it.

A simple, white sided farmhouse sits just off Highway 4 near Lambeth. The cluster of satellite dishes hanging from the porch had us questioning if it really was abandoned, but the overgrown laneway confirmed our suspicions. It’s not terribly exciting, but I felt it was worth noting all the same.

This white frame Ontario farmhouse is a common sight to anyone who takes the 401 from Chatham to London, as it basically sits on the Iona Road westbound on ramp. We have admired this sturdy old home for years, and have wrestled with how to go about getting photographs of it. The house sits so far back from Iona road it is impossible to take pictures that way, and standing on the side of the on ramp seems horribly dangerous. We settled for stopping on the overpass and I hopped out with a zoom lens and gave it my best shot. A couple of pictures focused on the tree, which I didn’t notice at the time since I was trying to be quick. The property is fenced and gated off, so these will have to do. Whoever owns it keeps the place in beautiful shape, even though it’s been empty for as long as my memory can recall.

The sixth and final house from our November tour is this farmhouse we found on a back road while heading home. The sun was setting, which made the colours in the photos really golden and vibrant. The house was fairly simple but beautiful, and the bricks had an odd pattern to them which you can see in the pictures. I enjoyed wandering around in the overgrown lawn until the Accomplice warned me of an approaching vehicle. The name of the road this home was on escapes me now, but it was somewhere not too far from Iona road and I *think* it started with a K. Not overly helpful, but maybe someone knows this house and knows the road name.

I hope you enjoyed these six abandoned house as much as we enjoyed finding and photographing them.

~Bandit

A Highgate Beauty – Photos From 2007

Posted in Abandoned House, Chatham-Kent with tags , , , , , , on September 29, 2011 by countybandits

It seems like 2007 was a great year for our abandoned house hunting. It was the year it all began for us, and we pursued it with a passion. Night after night we would pick a section of the county, draw out our map and hit the road around 1:00 am, Tim Hortons in hand. We’d usually return home around 5am, just in time to get the first breakfast sandwiches of the day back at Tim’s. The servers at the drive thru on that early shift knew us well. If I could turn back the calendar to 2007, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Times were simpler and abandoned house hunting was the most important thing we had going on.

Sometime in 2007 I got my first ‘smart phone’, an HTC P4000 which ran Windows mobile. It spent more time frozen than functional, but this was nothing surprising from a Windows based device. However, the camera on it was amazing at the time (1.92 megapixels according to a quick Google search), and so was the GPS / maps when it worked. I had this phone on me during a few of our explorations, and recently I found the folder of photos I took with this phone back in June 2007. I was pleased to find 40+ photos of one of my favorite abandoned houses in Chatham-Kent, which is in the Highgate area.

This brick Victorian has not had an easy life. When we discovered it in 2007, the entire property (a farm) was for sale. The house had been converted in to a sort of bunk house for migrant workers who must have worked on the farm or a farm nearby. It looked as though the house was completely updated sometime in the 1960′s judging by the remaining decor. The most unbelievable part of the house for me were two bathroom stalls built from plywood that were located just off the kitchen. This house was so incredibly beautiful, with detailed masonry, gorgeous mill work, finials decorating the roof peaks and a set of doors opening to a balcony on the second floor. How could anyone just let it go so far into disrepair? I believe during our walk through the house, we discovered a homemade shank in one of the rooms. There must have been a rough crowd in there at some point.

I don’t know if anyone ever bought this farm, but we have driven past this property in the last year and it looked worse than ever. the majority of the windows on the house were broken out, and the masonry was starting to crumble in places. It would take someone with extremely deep pockets to turn this place around. Can you imagine it restored to it’s former glory? Walking to the end of the hallway upstairs to open the double doors… stepping out on to the balcony, breathing in the fresh country air. It would be something else.

~Bandit

[Note: A few photos show the inside of a small shed behind the house.]

Amazing Abandoned Farmhouse In Michigan

Posted in Abandoned House with tags on September 9, 2011 by countybandits

I know this house is out of our usual realm, but it was so striking I had to share the photo here. On our road trip to pick up our gingerbread trim (which is now installed – yay!) we passed this abandoned farm just off the highway. It was close to an exit, so on our way back we got off the highway and ducked down a back road to find it. I would have loved to get out, walk up to it and take a ton of photos, but the thought of getting chased off by someone with a gun was enough to quell my urge. I wonder if any readers from MI have ever seen this house? I think it’s quite a find. Click the photo to see the full size version, taken with my smartphone.

~Bandit

A Drive Down Courtright Line, Lambton & Some Interesting Search Engine Hits

Posted in Abandoned House, Commentary, Lambton County with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2011 by countybandits

In my effort to unearth any and all my old photos, I found many that I had completely forgotten about and never got around to posting. The following images fall into that category. I shot these on May 28th, 2008 and I wish I had made a post about them at the time, because at the present moment I have no idea why I was even on Courtright Line that day. I do remember shooting these pictures however, and being fairly impressed that I had found 3 abandoned houses on one short stretch of road. Such a sweet score doesn’t happen very often, but if it’s going to happen anywhere – Lambton County is the place.

I really enjoy being able to share the stories that accompany the abandoned places we explore and photograph, but unfortunately I know nothing of these 3 houses. Since I don’t have any exciting information on them, I’ll share my thoughts on some popular searches that lead people to our site. I love viewing the site stats and seeing what brought people here, I find it fascinating.

“what kind of things can you catch from going in old abandoned houses” — This one made me laugh, because the Accomplice and I often discuss how many years we must have taken off our lives by now from entering these abandoned houses. We’ve seen plenty of asbestos insulation around old boilers and pipes, and walked through more raccoon feces than I’d care to admit. The smell of cat urine has been so strong in some places that in one instance, it actually made the Accomplice sick to his stomach (was it wrong for me to find this hilarious? I’m not bothered by the smell myself). So while I’m not sure if there are specific things you could ‘catch’ from these places, they can definitely be pretty nasty.

“what is valuable from a abandoned houses” — We get asked about finding valuables or antiques in abandoned houses quite often, but our answer isn’t as exciting as most people hope. The truth is that these houses have been abandoned long before we ever came across them, and we are certainly not the first people to walk through them. If they are open to nature (doors freely open, windows broken, holes in the walls / roof), then chances are slim to none that ANYTHING of interest is left. We have seen a few neat things, like vintage dresses and appliances, old iron beds, some portraits – but nothing of any real value or rarity. If you are hoping to come into some riches by exploring abandoned houses, you will likely end up with criminal charges before you end up with something of value!

“gingerbread trim, gothic trim, metal gingerbread molding” — I suppose this isn’t quite as interesting as the first two, but a lot of searches come in from people looking for information on gingerbread trim for old farmhouses. For our own 150+ year old Ontario farmhouse restoration, we purchased reproduction vinyl gingerbread pieces. We figured this would save us the huge headache of trying to repaint wood gingerbread every so many years, and would resist splitting or breaking with age. We ordered our pieces (custom made!) from Wholesale Millwork and the price was really reasonable for what you’re getting. Inside our house, we ordered a reproduction tin ceiling from Imperial Production along with some other trim pieces. Hopefully this information is helpful to someone out there.

Now, on to the photos, and as always please feel free to comment.

~Bandit

The Beautiful Brick Farmhouse in Guilds (41 Photos)

Posted in Abandoned House, Chatham-Kent with tags , , , , , on August 7, 2011 by countybandits

The past few days, I’ve been off work and just dying to get out and shoot some photos. I managed to find colour process black and white film and loaded some up in the F5. Of course all my time has been consumed by other things, more important than going out wasting gas and time shooting photos. Things like trying to decide on a counter top for our new kitchen, picking up our refinished 1930′s dinner table, delivering overdue shower gifts and catching up with  an old friend over Indian food. Since I have yet to get any shooting done, I figured I should at least work on posting up some of the existing photos I have waiting.

This brick Victorian house sat along Highway 3, across from the lake in the town of Guilds. I say sat because I haven’t been out that way in so long, I’m honestly not sure if the house is still there or not. It was in near ruins when these photos were taken in May of 2008 so I don’t have high hopes for it today. Also, I’m sure town isn’t the proper descriptor for Guilds. It’s more or less a cluster of houses and a sign. I wasn’t there for this photo adventure, so the accomplice went with a fellow photographer friend and took this lovely series of images.

I remember that the accomplice fell through the second story floor that day, and was damn lucky to catch himself with his elbows somehow and not fall the rest of the way through. I’m sure if he hadn’t managed to stop himself, he would have crashed through the main floor as well and found himself in the basement with some serious injuries. He managed to escape with some nasty scrapes and a small mark on his 50mm Nikkor lens, where it had bashed against the floor. When you view the pictures, you’ll understand why he fell through the floor. The majority of these houses are severely rotted, whether they look it or not. Moisture, insects and sheer age have deteriorated beams and floor boards in ways that can’t always be seen. Walking through them can be a dangerous undertaking.

Enjoy these pictures from 2008, and please leave a comment if you’ve seen this house lately. Is it still there, or did it finally rejoin the earth?

~Bandit

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