Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bizzare to Behold in Baltimore

On Saturday, Jeff, Emily and I drove up to Baltimore to scout around and find interesting things to photograph. We hadn't been in the city long before some huge, intimidating clown faces caught our eye. We swung back for a closer look.
They were in the windows of A.T. Jones and Sons, a theatrical costume company who produce outfits for local shows and they also rent them out.
These fibreglass masks certainly do a great job of drawing attention to the company, They were pretty scary from across the street and downright sinister up close. I've never understood the 'scary clown' concept before but today that changed. I was glad they were behind glass.
We strolled around some streets peering into the backs of derelict and tumbling down row houses, scraps of tattered curtains drawing me in for a photo.
We then drove through the Baltimore Cemetery. Emily and I had pulled up to these gates on other occasions but always failed to find it open. Today we drove right in and parked on top of the hill, looking down upon the bleached stones jutting from the ground.
Of all the grave stones I walked past, this small figure sleeping on top of a marker was my favorite. Weathered and eroded, she's been sleeping there for years, yet despite the stone having been smoothed out, it was still easy to see her face and pose, and I found her calming.
We left the cemetery, empty of living souls, apart from us, and carried on driving.
We came across yet another neigborhood filled with row houses that were mostly boarded up. Many had posters taped to doors and windows advertising auctions. A local lady, seeing we were interested, approached us and said that they were selling for about $3-4K. She had 3 which she was renovating. They certainly needed a lot of work, most of them were simply a shell.
We then checked another building which we'd explored before. We weren't able to get in, it was locked up tight and all windows boarded, which I was happy to see. The stained glass in here wasn't broken, and hopefully someone will purchase the building to restore, or at least save the windows. Of course, as long as that's before the place blows sky high; there was a terrible odor of gas surrounding the whole building, and I could only assume it would be worse inside.
The sun was dropping lower in the sky when we came across our last port of call. We had been here many years before and the place had been guarded quite heavily, preventing any further explorations.
But today it was overgrown, empty and heavily damaged by vandals.
The old labs were carpeted with thick vines that reached out to all walls and crept towards the ceilings. All the furniture had been destroyed, leaving no trace of the beautiful colors that had once filled these rooms. Nearly 100 years ago Pemco started here, creating porcelain enamel coatings for kitchen and bathroom appliances and floor tiles. When we had first come here, 5 years ago, there had been plenty of evidence of the industry, tiles on the walls, small pots filled with a spectrum of colored powders, and lab equipment. Now all that was gone, just soggy ceiling tiles on the floors with emerald green moss and vines.
Down in the storage warehouses though, glints of color shone in the dying sunlight. There were huge sacks of glass pieces in greens, browns and a beautiful royal blue, as well as heavy white balls that had apparently been used for polishing or grinding.
It was great light for photography, with glints and shadows, golden light everywhere. But it soon passed and we decided to head off to a brewery to finish the day.
The Pemco factory will all shortly be cleared out as the land has been purchased by local developers for a residential and retail complex. The company has moved to Alabama because of the dwindling business in north America, due to the shift towards stainless steel. Those disappearing orange Howard Johnson roofs won't be made by Pemco anymore...

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