Exploring Abandoned Flowers Hospital
There is one aspect to living in the south that I love above all others. If you ask permission, people usually say yes. It worked for me last week when I had the chance to shoot in an abandoned warehouse, it worked when I got to shoot in the long pecan tree lined drive way, and it worked when I wanted to explore the abandoned sections of the old Flower’s Hospital. The opportunity came Thanksgiving morning when I had gone with others to serve breakfast at a mission outreach called The Ark.
The Ark is located in the front portion of the old Flower’s Hospital and has been renovated to serve as an outreach to men who are going through a hard time. While there I was talking about that I had always wanted to explore the abandoned part of the hospital and photograph it. It is this thing with us photographers, we love peeling paint, dilapidated looking buildings and rusty backgrounds (I honestly think its a requirement). One of the ladies who was serving the breakfast introduced me to the manager of The Ark and when I told him what I wanted he said yes, like I said I love the south for this. So on Black Friday while people were fighting over the latest sale item my son and I were walking through the dark hallways of the abandoned portion of the hospital.
There were three floors to this section of the building. On the first floor the hall way was cleared but the rooms were full of junk piled floor to celling, in some cases spilling into the hallway. We chose the middle stairway and made our way down to the basement. For the most part this was pitch black but there were three areas that I could photograph. One was a small staircase that lead back to the main stairwell. Light creeped in from behind reflecting a cool blueish white off the partially painted walls. I set up my camera for multiple exposures that I would later blend in post so that the picture would look like what I was seeing. The funny part was while we were photographing this a dog somewhere outside was howling like a wolf, my son looked at me and said “Now that’s creepy.” We also photographed an old kitchen and a former dining room down in this area. Just outside the dining room was a stairwell that rain into a courtyard which is where I decided to do a little HDR to compensate for the massive range in exposure settings.
From the basement we made our way to the second floor. This area had been cleaned out for the most part but there were still rooms with things left behind such as a sowing machine, couch, and in one room a cat (still alive by the way). I couldn’t help but think of all the people that had been in these rooms and what changes were brought in their lives by having been in the hospital. In these rooms doctors had delivered hope of recovery and the sad news that medicine had done all it could. The walls would have so many stories to tell if they could only talk, some stories of joy and some of sorrow.
Now when ever you enter a place like this the first thing people think of is ghost. Was it haunted? Did you see or hear anything? The answer to that is no. While I do believe there is a spiritual side to life and that the human soul is eternal, I don’t believe that Aunt Betsy is roaming the halls of hospitals or anywhere else for that matter. Nothing in our few hours there was creepy. While we did hear sounds they were easily identified as outside noises from adjoining buildings or parking lots, or as in one case the wind blowing in. The old parts of the hospital was beautiful in its decay. As paint peeled from walls and nature took its toll on the construction there was a beautiful appearance to the loneliness.
I am very grateful to have photographed it. Those sections of the hospital are to be tore down and new building built in their place. A part of history will be removed and my photos may very well be the last few that remind us of what was there. There is still large sections we didn’t explore since we were not wearing the proper gear to protect our feet and hands should we scrape against or step on rusty metal. Maybe one day before they demolish the building I will get to go back. Hopefully I will be able to do a photo shoot in some of the portions of the building, if not I am very grateful that I got to record it before it is gone.