Monday, September 29, 2014

Kuhn Memorial Hospital: the Upper Floors

Dear Readers, the old Kuhn Memorial Hospital at 1422 Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard is such a mess, I could not resist showing some photographs from the upper floors. On my own, I have been reluctant to venture into the wreck alone, but some friends joined me and showed me around.
To get to the roof, you walk up some steep steps from the third floor and emerge from a turret. It is a standard graveled industrial roof, now in poor condition. The water tower to the west is in use by City of Vicksburg.
This is the view north towards MLK, Jr., Blvd. (formerly known as Openwood Road). The 2-floor house is very old, possibly Civil War era, and is in poor condition.
This is the building on MLK Blvd. I took this frame with a Leica M2 camera with 50mm f/2 Dual-Range Summicron lens.
 The poison ivy grows all the way up to the roof. That is how nature takes over.
The patient rooms on the upper floors in the 1959 wing were probably reasonably cheerful (for a hospital) in their day.
There was once a dumbwaiter to carry food to the upper floors. Notice the sturdy ceramic-glazed tiles.
This was one of the autopsy tables with a convenient drain in the base. My friends said they can detect paranormal activity in this room. I can't, but I am rather oblivious to vibrations and voices.
These cheerful rooms with south exposure were right down the hall from the autopsy room. I suppose that was convenient.
Back down on the first floor was the room with the cadaver refrigerator. Only two stalls in this one. Maybe the upper bin was for bits and pieces (like a removed leg)?
This was the hall leading in from the ambulance entry on the west side. The cadaver room was just off to the left.
On the ground floor out back, there was long room with a fireplace. We thought it might have been a doctors' lounge, but my friend later learned it was a solarium for patients. The open portico is turning to jungle.
This room, just behind the solarium, is collapsing.
Finally, this is one of two huge boilers. I am surprised no one has tried to cut it up for the scrap metal, but it may be too massive.

Urban spelunkers, if you want to look at Kuhn, do it soon. The decay is advancing so quickly, the City will have to act on a demolition within the next few years. And, they may have to secure the site prevent someone being injured (and suing the City). On September 29, 2013, the Mississippi Business Journal wrote,
VICKSBURG — The city of Vicksburg has given the owner of a 54-year-old building that once housed the Kuhn Memorial Hospital, once one of Mississippi’s three charity hospitals, 120 days to decide its fate.
The Vicksburg Post reports that the order was issued this week by city building and inspection director Victor Gray-Lewis.
The order came after a Sept. 18 hearing held on the property. No one from Ester Stewart Buford Foundation of Yazoo City, which owns the property, or Long Land Investments of Lauderdale County or Adair Asset Management LLC/U.S. Bank showed up, Gray-Lewis said. The hearing was not open to the public.
Long Land acquired the property at the 2011 county tax sale. Adair got it at the 2012 tax sale. Neither has redeemed the property.
“Someone’s going to have to fix it or take it down,” Gray-Lewis said. “They can’t leave it as it is.”
If no action is taken after 120 days, he said, he will take the matter to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for a recommendation.
If the property owners do not take action, Gray-Lewis said, the city can decide to demolish the building, which he said is expensive. Under the state’s slum clearance law, the city can sell the cleared property to recover the cost of demolition.
“I hope it won’t come to that,” he said.
The hospital was closed in 1989 along with two other charity hospitals in Meridian and Laurel.
The hospital was built in 1959 on 12.8 acres. The building was given to the city in 1990. While the city owned it, a Louisiana company proposed renovating the building as a 118-bed adolescent psychiatric facility, but the plan fell through.
In 1996, the city sold the property to Frank Lassiter of Lassiter Associates in Baton Rouge, La. Lassiter proposed using the building as an assisted living facility and clinic. The project, he said, would employ 100 to 150 people.
The property was sold in 2000 to Bob Pitts, who donated it to the Esther Stewart Buford Foundation the next year.
If you are interested in black and white photographs, please click here.

Kuhn Hospital is becoming popular. The Tennessee Paranormal Society came to visit.

The extra-wide angle photographs in today's tour are from a Panasonic G3 camera with the Olympus 9-18mm lens for micro 4/3 mount, all tripod-mounted. The other frames were from a Fuji X-E1 camera with the Fuji 27mm lens. All RAW files processed with PhotoNinja software.
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June 29, 2015 update:  Paranormal investigators found a body in the hospital. "Police Chief Walter Armstrong confirmed that the body is that of 69-year-old Sharon Wilson, who was reported missing. Wilson's attackers broke into her Drummond Street home and abducted her late Saturday night, police said." (From WAPT News, 06/29/2015). The two thugs were apprehended in Leland because of reckless driving. They were in the victims' SUV. It's hard to believe they could be so stupid.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Carr School, Vicksburg, Mississippi: Part II

This is the second part of our tour of the former Carr Central High School, at 1805 Cherry Street, Vicksburg. The building has been renovated and converted into apartments, so urban spelunkers will no longer see the decay in these photographs. This time, we will explore the upper floors. Most of these photographs are from 2007, when a work crew was removing debris, floor tiles, rotted wood, and vegetation. Part I covered the lower floors (please click the link).
First off, you had to climb the debris-covered stairs. It is amazing how the paint chipped after years of heat-cool cycles. Other than a minor problem of lead dust, it would have been easy to chip down to the bare plaster.
If you walked along the main hall, you could down into the auditorium. As you can see, it was an impressive facility in its day.
A double-length classroom led off from the opposite (south) side of the hall. With south exposure, it was a cheerful room, but probably pretty hot before air-conditioning. A coworker, who was a student at Carr, told me that was the chemistry laboratory.
This was the only bottle of chemicals left.
I liked the symmetry of this corner. I was surprised that these were green boards, not genuine slate blackboards.
 A wing on the north side had a classroom with a good view.
From this wing, you could see a room way up in the roof (under the chimney). Notice the long radiators for hot-water heat. Being placed below the windows, they produce an insulating air dam.
This was the cheerful room at roof level, with windows on four sides. My friend told me this was the art classroom.
The art room was on the 4th floor and was semi-isolated from the main building. It had its own stairs and clean-up facilities.
The art class was alive with killer vines.
No wonder, the jungle was engulfing the north side of the building. This is the process of destruction described in the "Life After People" series on History Channel, which showed how nature would take over if people abruptly disappeared.
Back to the 3rd floor. Many of the rooms had suffered water damage, and trees were growing in some of them. The wood floors were laid over horizontal stringers on top of the concrete floors. Some of the oak flooring was intact, but most was ruined.
Finally, it was time to head on down via the rear fire escape. Well, maybe not - too much jungle.

If you are interested in other abandoned schools, please click the links:
Most photographs on this page were taken with a Sony DSC-R1 digital camera.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Before Restoration: the Carr School, Vicksburg, Mississippi, Part I

For three decades, the former Carr Central High School was abandoned and a blight to motorists driving on Cherry Street. According to the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation, the school was "designed in the Tudor Gothic style by William Stanton, a well-known architect who had designed many religious, public, commercial and residential buildings across Mississippi.  The school was built in 1924 by the E. G. Parish Construction Company of Jackson, Tennessee, at a cost of $220,000.  It was named in honor of John P. Carr who had served as the superintendent of the Vicksburg Public Schools for 18 years prior to the completion of the school." The sturdy brick building served as the high school from 1932 until 1958, when the H.V. Cooper High School opened. Afterwards, the building became a junior high school but closed permanently in 1979.
This was the south side in 1993, with vines growing up the side and a jungle out back. This is a 4×5-inch Polaroid sepia instant print (a superb medium). The pile of brush in the back covers the remains of the gymnasium, which was in use in the mid-1980s but was subsequently torched.
The school was built on a height of land, a great location to catch breezes in a pre-air conditioning era. But the location also made it plainly visible to visitors heading downtown from I-20 on Cherry Street, a disgraceful mess.
In 2006 or 2007, Mr. Webber Brewer, a Vicksburg contractor and builder, bought the school and hired a work crew to clean out the debris. His intention was to install high-end apartments. Mr. Brewer graciously let me take photographs inside. It was a perfect site for decay photography, so we will start with the lower two floors. Mr. Brewer never completed his project, and the building remained empty for another five years. Just recently, a developer finished converting it into the Carr Central Apartments, so this is a good time look back at the years of neglect.
Coming up the steps from Cherry Street, a student would see the plaque showing the Board of Mayor & Aldermen.
Continuing up the main steps, our student would have entered a rather severe entrance hall. The office was to the left. I suppose you checked in here if you were late and awaited your discipline or browbeating.
The steps in front ascended into the auditorium.
This was an impressive-sized space. The windows on the left lined hallways allowing students to see activities on the stage. This 2002 photograph was a Kodachrome slide taken with a 20mm Russar lens on a Leica - very difficult to scan.
These were storage cabinets on the stage.
The basement had classrooms and a lot of debris.
Because of the big windows, most rooms had plenty of light, unlike modern prison-block schools that require constant florescent lighting.
The cafeteria was really interesting. It was in the basement, but the north wall had widows to let in some light. Nevertheless, these were long exposures with the camera on a tripod.
The kitchen was a gloomy mess with some big holes in the floor. The doors with portholes led to the sitting area. The 2002 frame is another Kodachrome taken with the 20mm Russar lens.
Next to the kitchen was a dim pantry with shelves. I can imagine the canned peas, salty beans, and other health food from that era.
Proceeding further back in the building, there was a locker room or bathroom complex. In the next article, we will look at the upper floors.

Most of the 2007 photographs were taken with a Fujifilm F31fd compact digital camera. This was a 6 mpixel unit with a unique sensor and excellent, clean jpeg output. All of the photographs in the building were tripod-mounted.