Photo: "Therapy Tubs"

I'm heading out of town for the holidays today, but I experienced a burst of photographic inspiration and dug into the albums from my May 2013 trip to the South this morning.

Here's a shot from inside the Polk building at the former West Tennessee Hospital, designed for psychopathic use and constructed in 1932 to aid in overcrowding. These tubs were part of a hydrotherapy program for patients, which involved covering the tubs with heavy fabric (you can see the securing points on the side of the tubs) to trap steam, only allowing the person's head to be outside the tub. 

(Print - http://smu.gs/1jtXi1R)

Photo: "Lost Stories Inspire Me"

Tonight, I was a guest on a Google+ 'Hangout On Air' where we talked about inspiration.  I shared this photograph and explained how finds like this are what drive me to continue photographing forgotten places. Not only do I enjoy the beautiful architecture, but I strive to document the stories that aren't being told; stories about patients, employees and visitors to all these empty spaces. 

The suitcases have been sitting in the attic of the West Tennessee Hospital for the Insane' for decades. When patients were admitted, they carried one suitcase of items to the hospital. Some contained curlers and hair brushes, others contained photographs and letters from loved ones, but all of the suitcases you see here were never returned to the patients and these stories remained lost inside this attic forever. 

Photo: "Sea Of Green"

Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia when the Georgia Lunatic Asylum, later known as Central State Hospital, was opened in 1842. Overcrowding quickly became a problem and expansion projects began in the 1870's and continued well into the 1960's.  The Walker Building, designed to house male convalescent patients, was constructed in 1884. 

Photo: "Two-Toned"

Blue hour light mixes with sodium vapor streetlamps inside this day room.  

Central State Hospital is the oldest psychiatric facility in the state of Georgia, admitting its first patient in 1842. This building, the Walker Building, wasn't constructed until 1884, but remained in operation for almost a century. Today, much of the top floor of the building has experienced severe damage due to the humid, wet conditions of the area. 

Photo: "Natural Draft Tower"

Cooling Tower, Hartsville Nuclear Power Plant

The concept of a cooling tower is to reject heat by cooling water in an evaporative manner. The heat from the water transferred to the air raises the temperature of the air and increases the humidity and that air is released into the atmosphere.

Cooling towers are very effective at the disposal of heat, more so than dry devices, as water can cool much faster than other methods. This natural draft cooling tower relied on the buoyancy of the heated air to provide the draft up the tower and was incredibly efficient as it cooled water by the thousands of gallons. 

Photo: "Peeking"

Top floor in the Walker Building

The Walker Building at Central State Hospital was constructed in 1884 and abandoned nearly 100 years later. The last 30 years have not been kind to this building. Days like this, humid and rainy, have taken a toll on the wooden elements of the building, causing much of the roof to collapse onto the floor of the third level. 

(Print - http://smu.gs/18H8VsH

Photo: "Break In the Darkness"

Hartsville Nuclear Plant

The Tennessee Valley Authority never imagined that construction on this plant would end a few short years after it began, in 1983, with thousands of government dollars wasted, creating a paradise for people like me. 

Walking around this plant, I felt small. Being surrounded by a massive world of nuclear concrete that is slowly being overtaken by nature, after being abandoned for three decades, is an experience you can't easily forget. 

These places are my home. It's hard to convey how much life lies within the places most people consider to be dead. The walls of these buildings speak many words as long as you're willing to listen and embrace the history. I don't believe in ghosts, if they existed I definitely would have seen them in some of these places, but I believe in the countless stories and memories the patients and employees left behind. 

Photo: "Roost"

When construction began on the Hartsville plant in the late 1970's, the Tennessee Valley Authority never imagined less than a decade later, they would be canceling construction of the plant. 

In 1983, when the plant was canceled, the reality set in that the needs for nuclear power were not as great as many predicted years before. 

Now the plant sits abandoned, a home for vultures and small birds nesting in the building's orifices.  

Photo: "Admin Offices"

Former administrative office, Babcock Building 

The administration section of the Babcock Building at the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum was the last section of the building to be constructed and was completed in 1885. 

Within the central building was a central hall, with offices on either side, and a connector hallway to allow for passage from between the north and south wards. The second floor contained operating rooms as well as residences for the doctors and supervisor. 

(Print - http://smu.gs/13HnQzN)