Archive for Chatham-Kent

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.]

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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

Raleigh Township Abandoned Houses

Posted in Abandoned House, Chatham-Kent with tags , , , , , on April 30, 2011 by countybandits

Finally! My crutches have been left in the dust, my leg brace kicked under the bed. I’m happily walking about with just a slight limp, so I slung our new Nikon D7000 around my neck at the first opportunity and went for a tour. Mind you, it was very short and only around our ‘neighborhood’, but it’s amazing what you can find so close to home. With warmer weather approaching I can promise there will be many more photos coming your way. If you haven’t already, please follow us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/countybandits and ‘Like’ us on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/thecountybandits#!/pages/County-Bandits/145244382204288

When I first pulled up to photograph this two-house property on the Ninth Line, I was greeted by the breathtaking sight of a giant turkey vulture sunning himself on the barn roof. I wish the lens I was using at that moment had a bit more zoom, but alas I was only able to capture him from a distance. The Ontario farmhouse on this property has incredible window trim, like nothing I’ve ever seen. The gingerbread on the porch is also beautiful. Simple, but elegant. I wish someone had cared enough about this home to keep it from sliding into such derelict condition. I find it amazing that someone stole the lightning rods from their metal stands atop the roof for the little bit of copper therein.
Abandoned Ontario Farmhouse, Chatham-Kent, Gingerbread Window Trim

The second house on the Ninth Line property appears to be a newer addition than the Ontario farmhouse across the lane way. I wonder what circumstance led to both houses, and presumably the entire ‘farm’, being abandoned? This small residence didn’t have much going on in the way of architecture, so I only snapped two photos.

I continued down the Ninth Line until I stumbled across this giant, wood sided Victorian home. I had actually completely forgotten that it was located on the Ninth since I haven’t seen it since I first blogged about it here, years ago! It belongs to a prominent Chatham-Kent ‘legend’, “Crazy F—”. If you’re a Chatham native, I’m sure you can complete the name without much trouble. As I probably said in the last post about this home, I would strongly recommend that you stay away from this property as the eccentric owner is often present.

This final home is not located in Raleigh Township, but as I made my way to Dorothy’s Antiques (in a very leisurely, country tour sort of way) I found myself driving past this beauty. Located in the Charing Cross area, this stately brick house has always piqued my interest. I thoroughly enjoy the style of the home. Understated but beautiful to look at. Something about it says Martha Stewart to me, but maybe that’s just my unhealthy Martha obsession coming to the surface. Many years back on a stroll past this property, I wandered my way up to it to poke around a little. A sticker on the door indicated the ‘contents were marked for identification by the OPP’. After asking around a little, I was told the home had been broken in to at one point and some tools were stolen. Storing valuable items in an abandoned home seems… well, I don’t even think I need to finish that thought.

Thanks for reading, and I promise to have another update for everyone soon.

~Bandit

The Fate of Botany + New Photos From 5 Houses

Posted in Abandoned House, Chatham-Kent, Lambton County with tags , , , , , on October 24, 2010 by countybandits

I was flipping through a file folder buried deep amidst countless other forgotten files when I came across something called Jan 08 Houses. After checking out all the photos, then cross referencing the blog, I discovered that these had never been posted! Perfect… a nice new (but old) photo post for the new (but old) blog!

The house at Botany line was one of our earliest finds. We visited that house countless times and whenever we had a friend with us for a tour, that was a mandatory stop. We had quite a lot of adventure there, from finding worthless but exciting Crown jars to recording interesting EVP. Unfortunately, the Botany Line house was demolished in January of 2009. The bricks were taken for salvage, and the frame was pushed into a pile. The owners were very kind and allowed us to walk through it one last time and take a memento or two. I found an old cork-stopped medicine bottle, and removed a couple transom windows from above the bedroom doors. All that remains of Botany is a fading memory.

The brick house on Botany wasn’t alone. Nearby, another beautiful home sat quietly blending back in to the landscape. We had driven past this house before, but a quick survey had left us unsure of whether or not it was occupied. Upon a closer daytime inspection, we discovered the house was indeed empty and also in very poor repair. I am not sure what era this house would have been built in, but it has amazing architectural elements. The different types of fishscale siding used, the elegant trim around the windows, and the beautiful Eastlake carved doors. After doing some poking around, it turned out that the owner of this home was a person known to my family. My accomplice and I approached the homeowner one day when he was on the property moving some farm machinery, and he graciously allowed us to take photographs. The doors were so beautiful we had to try and save them, but our efforts were in vain as the owner would not sell them at any price.

Moving on from Kent County in to Lambton County, we found there was an astounding number of abandoned houses just waiting to be discovered. The accomplice and I devoted many nights to touring the historic Dawn-Euphemia township, and found some gems in the area of Aberfeldy, Aughrim, and Cairo. This first farmhouse is nearly pristine – at least from the outside. It was sealed up tightly and looked to be in the early stages of abandonment, not yet open to nature and the elements. We loved the clean lines and simplistic beauty of this house. Maybe someday the door will swing open and we can see what’s hiding within those pale green walls.

Not far from the pale green home, we found this stunning, stripped down Ontario farmhouse. All the windows were missing, and once we stepped inside we noticed that mostly everything else was gone too. It appears there was a fire that originated from an oil tank in the basement. A hole was burnt through the kitchen floor, and the whole place smelled of heating oil. All the wood trim was removed from the home, which in a way was nice to see. At least someone was prudent and made sure it was used in another home. The brickwork on this house is beautiful, and hearkens back to the days when such elegant details were used lavishly. I love that the gingerbread is all still intact as well. Such a shame that the fire put an end to this home’s useful life.

What appears to be another stripped out Ontario farmhouse sits far back in a field, inaccessible and out of reach. We didn’t see any type of lane way, and the field was blanketed in snow so we decided it was best to just take a couple shots and move on. From the long distance photos, it does look like the windows and any brick or siding has long been removed. Perhaps we’ll make it back there one day and find out the real story.

From what I recall, this quaint home was somewhere in the Aughrim area. There was a small closet filled with canning jars that I was delighted to poke through! The strangest thing in this home however, was two good sized pillows on the floor, each with a pair of underwear fitted on it. I don’t even want an explanation for that. On the property also was a good sized barn or shed of sorts, that seemed to match the house in time of construction.

I can’t recall the name of the road this final house was on. It was so tucked in to the trees that I barely caught a glimpse of it was we drove past. We were on our way home, thinking we were done for the day when it pleasantly surprised us. The interior of this Ontario cottage type home was in total ruin. The entire second floor had collapsed down on to the first, making it very tricky to navigate through the small areas that were still accessible. I find the design of this home to be quite captivating in it’s simplicity and subtle beauty. The gothic window is lovely. In the field next to this house were several beehives, and it was interesting to see a couple honeybees lying frozen on the pristine, glittering snow.

I promise there are more posts like this one coming soon. Remember to share the blog address with anyone you feel might appreciate and share in our strange captivation with abandoned houses, in Kent County and beyond.

~Bandit

Return to 7th Line…

Posted in Chatham-Kent, Commentary with tags , , , on January 20, 2008 by countybandits

The farmhouse on 7th line had sat undisturbed by us for almost a year until last night. It had weathered the rainy spring, the searing hot summer, half of a frostbite inducing winter, and remained sitting steadfast at the end of the long, bumpy driveway leading up to it. Everything looked the same, the smashed windows, the overgrown weeds, the rotted porch, the bed frame just visible inside an upstairs room, which amazingly still had an intact window. The intact window that had briefly held the face of a man last April.

During our blogging hiatus, we had the good fortune to meet some local fellow house hunters. As a group, we explored an old insulbrick farmhouse along Highway 3, a Monestary by the lake, and even made a return visit to the “house full of memories”, which is a story in itself. Last night, three of us decided to brave a return trip to 7th Line. My accomplice, myself, and a fellow hunter. Soon, word spread of the planned trip, and three more were in for the adventure. We took two vehicles, plenty of Maglites, some protective measures, and as much courage as we could muster up.

When we pulled in the driveway, the full moon was illuminating just the outline of the large brick house. There were no lights, no cars, no bicycles, no signs of life whatsoever. The accomplice and I figured there would be no happenings this time, as there were last time we attempted to enter the house. Surely whoever, whatever, was there had moved on. The cold was enough to make your fingers hurt within a minute or two, and freeze the inside of your nose with each breath. How could anyone bear to stay in a drafty old brick house with no apparent hydro or running water?

We walked cautiously up to the house, making our way up the formed concrete back steps. The back door wasn’t wired or locked shut, although a rusted padlock was hanging nearby, doing nothing. I stayed outside, on the edge of the porch, with my 6-D cell Maglite held on my shoulder. The rest of the group made their way inside, and I kept watch just outside the door. I watched and listened as everyone stepped forward, carefully, through the front entryway and ventured slowly in to the kitchen. It wasn’t long before there were strained whispers and footsteps shuffling backwards towards the door. I asked, what the hell was going on? I couldn’t hear much since I was outside…

Only a moment later, everyone was making a hasty exit and moving towards the vehicles. Apparently, once people had made their way to the decimated kitchen, a racket started right above them on the second floor. Creaking of metal bedsprings, thumping, and eventually, clearly defined footsteps. Someone said they could hear breathing, heavy breaths… another said they swore they could hear a low whispering. As we left the place, and headed up the driveway, we moved our flashlights over all the windows. The Accomplice caught a movement in an upstairs window, but that was all. We saw nothing more.

Who, or what, is living in the 7th Line farmhouse? A house littered with raccoon feces, mould, broken glass and fallen plaster? Where there is never a light on, no sign of electricity, no evidence of a mode of transportation, all the way at the end of a lonely country road. Unfortunatley, we have never made it past that kitchen area to see the rest of the house, and unless the current tenant decides to move away, we may never get any farther.

~Bandit

Pain Court Water Wheel

Posted in Chatham-Kent, Pump House with tags , , on March 6, 2007 by countybandits

If you’ve taken a drive around the north-west area of Kent county, you may have noticed the soil in the fields is extremely dark, almost black. This whole area used to be part of Lake St. Clair, but thanks to a system of pumps and dykes it is kept dry enough to farm.

We made a fascinating discovery in this area. My partner had been to this site before, but didn’t remember the exact location. After placing a phone call, we headed out to search a few back roads. A few moments in to the search, I pointed out a rickety looking metal shed that sat between two dykes. When we squeezed through the half-open door, a huge water wheel rose up to the roof on the left.

Made of wood and iron, the huge wheel was now sitting idle, replaced by more modern pumps. The bottom slats were stuck in the mud (which I have photos of – somewhere). I have no idea how old it is, or how long it’s sat idle. I would like to make some inquiries with the farmers. Enjoy the photos.

~Bandit

Pain Court Water Wheel, Chatham-Kent, OntarioPain Court Water Wheel, Chatham-Kent, OntarioPain Court Water Wheel, Chatham-Kent, Ontario

Fisher Mansion Photos

Posted in Abandoned House, Chatham-Kent, Demolished with tags , , , , on March 6, 2007 by countybandits

Here are some photos of the Fisher Mansion, once located just outside of Chatham along Highway 2 (now Longwoods road) across from Can Am Tractor. Sadly, it was recently demolished. I never got to go inside, although I did look through the windows. There wasn’t much to see. A year or two ago, I did go through the old cow barns with my friends. They are gone now as well. It was for sale for a long time, but no one ever bought it — I imagine it was just too much of a money pit. In the spring / summer, the lawn is covered in a carpet of small blue flowers. It was a beautiful and majestic home in it’s time.

~Bandit

Fisher Mansion Chatham-Kent, OntarioFisher Mansion Chatham-Kent, OntarioFisher Mansion Chatham-Kent, Ontario