All posts by Julia Solis

Sprinting out of Time


  On a nice Sunday, you can run into all sorts of people wandering and biking around these abandoned sheds. And yet this former barracks complex in the East German countryside is in good shape, considering that the military moved out around the time the wall came down. The bright paint is impressive, as is the attention to style and details in the sparse decor. It looks pretty ready to be turned into a rollerskating rink, with Sputnik tunes and polyester

Speaking Mutely


  “The stones here speak to me, and I know their mute language. Also, they seem deeply to feel what I think. So a broken column of the old Roman times, an old tower of Lombardy, a weather-beaten Gothic piece of a pillar understands me well. But I am a ruin myself, wandering among ruins.” The words of Heinrich Heine, a 19th century German Romantic poet after whom this hotel in the East German countryside was named. The Heinrich Heine Hotel was demolished in 2016 to make way for another

The House of Louise


  It's rare to find a time capsule that's quite this preserved. An old mansion in Luxembourg has become a museum of family life in pre-WW II Europe. The shelves in the attic were littered with school books, journals, letters, funeral notices and bills. Notebooks from a girl named Louise showed her progress in calligraphy while a young boy in the family was making his first forays into the Hitler Youth. The dates spanned the late 19th century to about the 1950s. The furnishings and

Toledo Prison Farm


  Utterly isolated, apparently untouched for years – this place has the eerie kind of remoteness where every outside sound is startling and the thought of human habitation borders on the absurd. The prison is small and old, a mere aging stain in a perfect countryside, a decaying heap of bricks surrounded by forests and a few tended fields. It’s entirely self-contained, from the dormitories to the kitchen and laundry room, the medical exam area, basement shop and tucked-away jail cells

Disfigured


  Found inside a closet in an old psychiatric ward in Italy. Burnt, painted, scribbled on, these cards have turned into a very personal visual poem over time.        

A Stage Entombed


  The recent demolition of the Fairmont Theater was sad news. Discovering the Fairmont was one of my favorite theater experiences ever. It had all the elements that make up a perfect ruin exploration: adventure, beauty and mystery. It was fun and scary, left a nice coating of moldy air like flocked wallpaper on the inside of my lungs, and happened completely by accident. That this place seemed so utterly forgotten – no interior photos online, at all? – made it all the more novel. The

Keeping Records


    Someone took the warning "Do Not Remove From Hospital" on the patient files a bit too seriously when this place was shuttered. Of course it seems to be a rarity whenever the staff of a closing hospital actually disposes of medical records in a way that keeps them confidential. Usually the echo of the giant "Fuck it" reverberates for years after the doors are slammed shut. Coming across records like this time and again, it was surprising to see what a stir was caused in

The Orphanage


  The German Catholic Orphanage in Buffalo, New York, was built in 1927 and served as a temporary home for thousands of kids over the decades. It's still strikingly pretty, although its chapel (added in 1938) is quickly declining into a vandalized dump site. Its days are numbered anyway; construction and demolition are about to begin to turn the campus into affordable housing. Above, a picture of the chapel from about three years ago; a few recent photos

Doorway in the Afternoon


  "... As I went forward, striding very strong, and making a good speed, I did hear presently a little noise upward in the night, and someways unto my left, that had seeming as that it were a strange low sound that did come down to me out of an hidden doorway above; for, indeed, though the sound did come from very nigh, as it did seem no more than a score feet above my head, yet was it a noise that did come out of a great and mighty distance, and out of a Foreign Place. And I did know

Concealed Weapon


      At first it barely caught the eye. A small pencil drawing on a wall that was otherwise completely untouched. On my last excursions I've focused even more on the rare patient drawings that still cling to deteriorating asylum walls. This one at first seemed fake, something added by a recent visitor. But the surrounding paint was flaking enough to peel and find out. It wasn't possible to peek beyond the bullet, since the more solid paint chips were starting

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... this travelogue

Explorations and ruminations about time capsules near and far, with an eye towards the structures, textures and playgrounds of decay. A companion blog for darkpassage.com.

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