Archive for Gingerbread

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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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

Another Historic Farmhouse Lost Forever

Posted in Abandoned House, Demolished, Lambton County with tags , , , , on July 26, 2011 by countybandits

Lambton County is rich with abandoned houses. In fact, the county is home to some of my absolute favorite abandoned homes of all time. There we have found beautiful old farmhouses with lavish gingerbread details, yellow brick Victorian homes with examples of incredible masonry, and large wood-sided century homes. We have yet to fully explore Lambton as it’s quite a drive for us to get all the way out there and start cruising the grid of back roads. On Sunday, I was reminded of why it’s so important to get out there and document these homes now – before it’s too late. They are disappearing from the landscape at an alarming pace.

We were driving home from a Stateside shopping trip and decided to take the back way home, coming down Kimball road. To get to Kimball road, I took the Modeland road exit from the 402 and headed towards Plank road. I remembered that after the second overpass on Modeland, there was an impressive brick Ontario farmhouse that I had photographed a couple years prior. Those photos never made it to the blog, as they were film. As I crested the overpass, I saw the mature trees but no familiar barn. A very new gleaming galvanized fence sprawled across the front of the property and on down the road. As we drew nearer, my fears were confirmed; the house was gone.

Two years ago, when I photographed this house, it looked to be in amazing condition. We peeked in the windows and saw gorgeous pocket doors surrounded with heavy wood trim, all original to the home. The trim had even managed to escape being painted all these years. The gingerbread around the porch was in excellent shape as well and was quite intricate. I hope they salvaged some of the millwork before it was destroyed. We never got a chance to actually go inside, as it was locked up as I recall. I’m happy that I at least have some record of this beautiful Ontario farmhouse, and it can live on here on our blog. Enjoy it as we once did.

~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