Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oddities and Deites and Antiquities

We had a really bad breakfast at this place. OK, not inedible, but a buffet that had a very limited choice and where the meat had to be ordered separately, no help yourself with the bacon or sausage. But once again, the people were so nice that you really didn't mind.
A very cool mural we came across.
This guy was sitting on the side of the road selling oils and stuff on the table. He had his shoes off and looked very comfy. No idea what was brewing in the kettle.
More houses and a beautiful advertisement wall discovered when the building next to it was razed.
Detroit has a lot of old signage. I wasn't familar with the Little Caesars sign but was told there are very few about.
We spent a while looking for some orange houses that were part of an art project, the reason is here.
We managed to find two of them but up close I was disappointed as I'd thought the whole house would be orange but really it was only the 1 or 2 sides that could be viewed from the road that had been decorated. But while walking around the neighborhood we chatted with some residents who again didn't believe that we were there on vacation, and that we must be from the government because of our cameras. Yet they were very friendly and told us of how few lived on the streets now compared to a couple of decades previously when it was a thriving community where everyone knew eachother.
I wonder how much in cash would be paid for this house...
Our next stop was St Agnes church. It's history can be read here.
This is a church with a school directly next to it.
The inside of the church was forlorn with virtually everything stripped from it. Ther are a few small pottery tiles set into the walls but a lot of these have been chiseled out. The pews and stained glass windows were removed years ago and replaced with clear plastic panes, so at least those survived.
Parts of the beautiful tiled floor still remain. There are photos at the bottom of the page in the above link that show how badly the church has been ravaged in the past 3 years. I hope the new owner can prevent such a dramatic increase of damage in the next 3.
We had a look around the school and that too had been vandalized badly.
Books strewn around and smashed blackboards hanging from walls with some broken furniture were in most rooms. We wandered up and down the corridors then left to drive onto a hospital we'd been interested in seeing.
The United Community Hospital looked like a futuristic building, almost like a huge spaceship as it loomed over us. The outside was appealing until we went around the back and saw the delivery ramp and yard was completely flooded. There was an unpleasant smell wafting up from the water and I lost all interest in going inside. We found a way in but the others' interest seemed to have waned also so we decided to not bother. Built in the early 70's and closed in 2006, the hospital spent most of its existence in debt.It's under new ownership but will require extensive funds to restore the damage caused by scrappers and vandals as well as the mold from the flooding in the basement.
A brick puddytat funded by Kickstarter. The how and why is here.
More cool signage and a police car, not something we saw a lot of. We were told by a local that 300 more cops were going to be laid off in the next couple of weeks and he laughed, commenting that he didn't even realize that there were 300 cops left.
One of my favorite shots of Detroit, the modern GM Center as a backdrop to abandoned warehouses.
In the evening we drove to a bar called Cadieux Cafe which has the only feather bowling alley in the U.S. The game originated in Belgium where there are about 60 or more alleys. It's very similar to bowling but the object of the game is not to knock skittles down but to leave your ball positioned on top of a pigeon feather that sticks up out of the compressed earth alley/trough.
Richard having a go and then Eric, the league's president, judging a game. Eric was very interested in our urbexing exploits and insisted on us meeting one of his friends, whom I shan't identify because he was going to appear on American Pickers but decided at the very last minute to back out as he didn't want people seeing his collection of antiques and oddities in his home which could possibly prompt a robbery. He apparently knows everywhere in the city, and nearly everyone, was promptly called up on the phone and asked to come down to the bar immediately, which he did. He chatted with us for a while about exploring and then asked if we'd like to see his home. We all piled outside and were treated to a volley of gunfire, which I was really impressed with. It seems we were parked in what the locals refer to as Crack Alley. We drove to his house which was crammed full of antiquities, old furniture, lamps, an amazing vinyl record collection, knickknacks, bicycles, pictures and even an old scooter. Everything had a story behind it and as he pushed beers into our hands we were treated to a few of them while we listened to music. We were introduced to Leadbelly who first sang Black Betty in 1927. A link to the song is here but it's not as cool as listening to it on the original 78.
We eventually had to leave in the early hours of the morning and drove back through a very quiet Detroit to our hotel, not passing a single patrol car.

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