Friday, November 14, 2014

Franklin School, DC

On Saturday a few of DCUE were meeting down at the old Franklin School building in Washington DC. The building is going to be restored but prior to this an organization, details here, had the ingenious idea of getting urbexers in to photograph the building and upload their images for a contest. Of course many of us flocked to the site, the opportunity to capture an abandoned building without trespassing was awesome, as was being allowed to explore one of DC's treasures which I discovered was steeped in history.
The building, built in 1869, was originally a school for boys and girls, with it's huge windows and spaces which were supposed to enhance their learning. Then in 1880 Alexander Graham Bell conducted his first 'telephone call' from here. The building really didn't have much use after the 1950's and remained empty amid protests to stop its being demolished. It was then a homeless shelter from 2002 - 2008, article here, and is now empty again awaiting its transformation into an arts center. Unfortunately with today's decor trend leaning towards minimal and white environments, the development doesn't look the least bit appealing or interesting, in my view.
Ugh! This is a rendition of what's in store, and a link with more information is here.
We had all signed up for an hour's time slot out of a three offered, and I got there early to find parking, which amazingly, turned out to be a spot directly opposite the building. A car pulled out just as I arrived. The building was cold as I entered but already alive with activity. I met a few of the crew who were just finishing their shift and then made my way upstairs, following a delicious waft of coffee that beckoned me from above.
I've discovered that I really prefer to take photos from ground level and so today decided to do just that. I have a new tripod which is perfect for these angles and today would be a great opportunity to break it in. There were quite a few folks here so patience was needed to get shots without them in, but everyone was so friendly and courteous, we worked together. It was also great to see so many folks using cell phones or point and shoot cameras, there really was a great blend of photographers here today.
Of course some photos are just better with people in them, especially when in processing I made them look like ghosts.
There were three levels to explore and I did find the coffee guy, but by the time I got to him the free cookies had all gone. Oh well. But the coffee, from a new shop called Compass Coffee, was delicious and really hit the spot. I'm pretty sure the coffee he was handing out was the Cardinal blend.
 I finished walking around the top level, missing a few shots I would have liked to take but with so many people around, it really wasn't possible. The number of participants had increased a lot since when I had first arrived and we were going in to the final hour. The project had obviously been a huge success, the organizers would have a fine gallery once everyone had uploaded their images. Hoping that everyone does, of course. I'm looking forward to seeing the winners.

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