Ever come across an abandoned building and find yourself mesmerized? I find it difficult to take my eyes off the ruins of old structures like the red school house in Dover or the dilapidated church in Bloomfield.

What is it about these buildings that we find so fascinating? Kaitlin O’Shea, a state historic preservation specialist who also publishes a wonderful, personal blog, Preservation in Pink, says there are many reasons we’re drawn to abandoned structures.

“Abandoned buildings are mysterious. These structures are filled with stories, history, and the unknown. Passersby can marvel at this structure stuck in limbo between past and present and let their imaginations fill in the blanks. Who lived there? Why did they move? Who else has stopped and gazed at this property?” says O’Shea. “Abandoned houses are relatively uncommon, which makes them all the more interesting. Abandoned houses are historic and filled with architectural detail, something that we do not see on many modern structures.”

Houses are often abandoned because people cannot afford to keep up with the maintenance. Perhaps they were in a family estate and no one wants to take care of the house, or it’s stuck in a family dispute, O’Shea says. Sometimes houses are damaged by fire or storms and there is no money to repair them, or no insurance money. She says it’s up to the landowner as to what is done to the property.

Notable Abandoned Buildings in Vermont

Abandoned buildings can stand for quite some time if they are constructed well. O’Shea offers the Elgin Springs house on Route 22A in Panton as an example. Built in 1845, the house been vacant since the 1970s and stuck in family affairs. The house is very strong structurally, but quite damaged on the inside.

O’Shea’s Preservation in Pink blog has an entire section titled “Abandoned Vermont” with photos and stories about old and abandoned inns, stores, schoolhouses, businesses and houses she has explored across the state.  Her blog features everything from the Walloomsac Inn in Bennington to the Randolph Coal & Ice Shed to the Granville Inn.

It’s clear she loves to photograph and dig into the history of these mysterious, neglected buildings.

“When was the last time you wanted to spend time investigating a modern abandoned structure?” she says. “It’s just not as exciting.”

 **To learn more, visit Preservation in Pink.

 

8 Comments

  • Love that little site! (Preservation in Pink)

    I got to visit VT last week and its always interesting to see beautiful homes and properties and then abandoned, dilapidated structures. Its a neat contrast, I’m not sure its unique to Vermont but its part of the landscape.

    Interestingly enough, the Walloomsac Inn was partially decorated with Halloween decorations! Seeing that reminded me that although its no longer an Inn, and certainly looks abandoned, at least part of it is still inhabited!

    • Hi Jane — I didn’t realize people still live there. I knew it was privately owned, but did not hear it was still occupied. Thanks for letting me know. Erica

  • Abandoned homes always make us very sad, especially since they are almost always among our oldest, historic housing stock. The large size of these homes, combined with very high heating costs, can lead to their abandonment. This will be magnified by the aging of Northern New England since older folks are on a fixed income making it more difficult to afford the higher maintenance and heating costs of older homes. We will have to find an answer to this multi-faceted problem before pictures like this become commonplace.

    • That is so true. We have such an old housing stock in Vermont and New England, too. So many of these homes fall into neglect because of high heating costs and maintenance. Thanks for bringing up a great point.

  • I was a little disturbed to find out today that people actually view web sites showing old/abandoned houses for the purpose of visiting those houses, taking photos of contents, then showing to antique dealers to find out what the stuff is worth. And yes, then they return to steal it and sell it! Apparently the antique dealers “know” what is going on and tell people about the abandoned house web sites. Since they didn’t take the stuff themselves, they are not at fault. Caught 2 people with full camera equipment in grandma’s old house today. Makes me sick to my stomach to think about all that has been lost that we don’t know about. A few years back we caught a guy in the middle of the day walking out with furniture on his back!
    I too like to look at old architecture and am fascinated by old homes & their history. It’s a shame some people are using these sites / postings for such purposes. Somewhere there is an owner to most every piece of property.

    • Hi Margaret — That is such a shame about your grandmother’s old house. I didn’t realize people were scoping out sites like mine to do such a thing. Thanks, Erica

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