Photo: "Sloss Furnaces Warehouse"

Night. 90 second exposure. 

James Withers Sloss was one of the founders of the city of Birmingham, Alabama. In 1880, he founded the Sloss Furnace Company, where he constructed the city's first blast furnace and contributed to the industrial production of iron in the south. In 1899, when James Sloss sold the company to investors, they rebuilt the furnaces with modern equipment and also constructed brand new boilers .

The site operated until 1969 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980's. The Sloss Furnaces now operate as a museum and are open to the public.

Photo: "Hospital Corridor"


The Mare Island Naval Shipyard Hospital was constructed when the shipyard was established in the late 1800's, however the beautiful, original building experienced severe damage in an 1898 quake. 

The replacement building shown here is the central section of a three and four story building and a great example of Beaux Arts classicism. Not only that, but it is unique in style for the shipyard.

Since the building's inception, many modifications have been made, including drop ceilings, many new layers of paint and the addition of better HVAC systems. 

When the shipyard closed in the 1990's, the hospital became vacant. In the recent years Touro University has been using the building for storage.  

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Photo: "Attic, St. Joseph's Church"


St. Joseph's Church in San Francisco, California was reconstructed in 1913 after experiencing significant damage from the 1906 quake. This attic in the West steeple has the original stained glass from construction. 

Being in this small space was pretty remarkable. The stained glass windows were shining beautifully in the sunlight, casting yellow hues around the room. 

Photo: "Cupola"

This cupola sits atop the Administration Section of the Babcock Building, completed in 1885, at the former South Carolina Lunatic Asylum in Columbia. The section of the building contained patient dining areas, operating rooms and housing for nurses and doctor's. 

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Photo: "Light Inside"

I had the opportunity last week to make a return trip to the beautiful St. Joseph's Church in San Francisco. 

In 1906, an earthquake and fire destroyed this building. It was reconstructed in 1913 and remained in operation until the 1989 quake when it was deemed structurally unsound. The church has been vacant since. 

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Photo: "Fading Away"

The classically influenced and Gothic Revival style Psychopathic Building, known as Polk, on the Western State Hospital campus in Tennessee was constructed in 1932 to assist with overcrowding in the main hospital. The four story building was designed by a Memphis architecture firm and cost  $500,000 to build. 

Photo: "Least Resistance"

Babcock Building at the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum

It's natural to get stuck in a routine, to be so comfortable with something that change becomes frightening, but I truly believe that every ended opportunity leads to another open door full of possibilities. It's not often what we expect, and sometimes not what we think we want, but sometimes it's the best thing for us. 

Photo: "Someday..."

For many, it's hard to comprehend how someone could feel at peace inside an abandoned location, especially an asylum. Though many of these places were saturated with dispair, loneliness and depression, where patients were sometimes mistreated, asylums are also a major part of America's history that should not be forgotten. The serenity I find inside these places comes from the lessons we as humans have learned about care for the mentally ill, from the stories of those who were patients or staff that the images help tell, from the incredible architecture and the beauty in having an opportunity to document something that will soon be lost forever. 

Photo: "Romanesque Curves"


St. Joseph's was re-constructed in 1913, after being completely destroyed in the 1906 quake. San Francisco architect John Foley was hired to design the building and chose the Romanesque Revival Style, which was not very common for this time period, as it was primarily utilized many years prior. 

To read more about the church, please visit my historical essay:

Photo: "The Narthex"


St. Joseph's Church in San Francisco was originally constructed in 1865. Many years later, the complex was destroyed by fire during the earthquake of 1906. 

The building you see here was erected in 1913 and still stands today, but the church has been closed since 1989, when its structure was compromised during the Loma Prieta quake. 

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