Saturday, February 7, 2015

Rural Exploration

In place of my usual solitary barn hunting excursions, I have taken up "rural exploration" these days with my mini-photographer companion, Megan.  She is drawn to all that abandoned, dilapidated stuff, and I don't really mind taking pictures of that either...especially on a beautiful, sunny day.  And the conversations we have in the car are pretty good!

This morning, we followed up on a tip from a friend about an abandoned orphanage in Sherman.  (Because really, who isn't just the tiniest bit intrigued by the thought of an abandoned orphanage?) 

We weren't sure exactly where to find this place, so we stopped first at the Sherman Museum.  This interesting little building is the former Church of Christ that is currently used for museum overflow storage.  Every single window in the front and on both sides is gorgeous stained glass!

We asked the museum curator for directions to the orphanage and were able to find it with no problem.  You really can't miss the thing.  It's so hard to tell from these pictures how spectacular this place is.  It sits on a hill at the intersection of two busy highways with a gated apartment complex directly behind it, and fences all the way around.  It's not the easiest place to photograph, that's for sure.  

The Woodmen Circle Insurance Company broke ground on the building in 1928 and it opened in 1930 to provide housing for widows and orphans during the depression.  During it's functional years, 100 children and 165 elderly women lived here.  There are several red brick buildings on the property, but I couldn't fit them all into one shot!  There is a gazebo to the right of the main building with the columns, and the entire west wing (built is 1948) is two stories of double occupancy rooms with a breezeway connecting it to the main house.  The place was sold to various investment companies after its last residents left the home in the early 70s and has remained unoccupied ever since.  

This building looks like more dormitory style halls and rooms, and sits at the back of the property behind the main buildings, but its entire roof is completely gone.  What a fascinating place.  We learned in the museum that in 2010, the owners (at the request of the museum) agreed to open the property to the public for one day only.  People paid $20 for limited access inside the buildings and guided tours by former employees and residents of the home.  What an amazing thing it would have been to wander through those halls and hear all the stories!  Well worth the $20 in my opinion.  

I continue to be amazed at the wealth of interesting little places here with so much history.  This one was definitely a treasure!  Megan and I are already planning our next RUREX trip.  

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