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T here's three of us in the Toyota, and when we turn onto the back road, we cut the lights off and drift onto the shoulder. Outside, the woods are dark and, in the moonless stillness, they seem to form a single, impenetrable wall. The dirt road ten feet from the car is almost invisible, except for the silver ribbons of the telephone and electrical wires that run down its center. For a moment we sit and stare. Then one of us cracks open a door. It's seasonably cold—early January—and once we've gotten the nerve to step away from the car and shuffle onto the dirt road, we're already rubbing our hands and stomping our feet.
Richmond is a town of history. Everything is historic… the streets, the buildings, the canals, the houses.. its almost overload to the point where there’s so much history no one really pays attention to it on a daily basis because its just there. About a decade ago, I began hearing stories out of Richmond East-enders about Richmond’s Lost City.
We think of feral dogs as dangerous, foreboding and to-be-avoid – but wild houses have a strange allure despite (or likely because) they are abandoned abodes , deserted homes gone from domestic spaces slowly back to nature. As photographer James D Griffioen muses, the Latin root refers both to while beasts but also to something that belongs to the dead, gone back to the Earth. Some of his shots capture this process at an incredibly late stage, such as the house above which is entirely camouflaged by the greenery that has grown to cover it – only discernible because the branches and vines conform to the shape of the structure.
With some of the most disturbing and tragic histories of any buildings in the US, asylums and hospitals are way beyond creepy . Many of them were built in the late 1800s, when “mental illnesses” (such as masturbation, menopause, and teenage rebellion) were considered dangerous enough to lock someone in an asylum. A pain-inflicting misunderstanding of mental illness combined with a chronic mistreatment of its sufferers meant that many people were never released and spent the remainder of their lives in these horrible institutions.