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Thursday, 16 May 2013


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Why these peple call themselves developers is lost on me.

Please note that "original owner" would actually have been Penboscots, Abenaki, or...

Whenever I used to come across a house, site or neighbourhood that looked interesting, I took it for granted, especially in the town where I grew up in the sixties (In Holland, I now live in Canada). I had a camera, but I used it for holidays and family gatherings. It seldom crossed my mind to take pictures of my everyday surroundings; now I'm trying to gather those images I never took, by asking others who did, in order to salvage at least something of what was destroyed. For me it's a lesson learned and at least now I'm taking pictures in my own neighbourhood here in Edmonton.

In this vein, I have a couple of stories on the jaws of death:

I go back and shoot Centralia, PA every so often. A few years back, I showed up one day and a wrecking crew was out demolishing one of the last seven or so homes in the ghost town. Unfortunately, all I had with me was an 8X10 monorail, which I set up and attempted to photograph the process with--or at least record the moment. I was so annoyed at my stupidity in bringing the wrong tool that I've never yet printed the shots. I didn't have a camera to stop the action with, and didn't have a 95mm ND filter to get the long smooth blur I would have liked, so I'm just unwilling to see how much I failed.

One of my jaws of life successes is that I have some really good shots of the USS America, taken in the last few years before they sank her. You never think that anything that big will ever go away, and then all of a sudden, it's gone.

Using google Earth I visited the area in question. It showed more than a few NEW homes on the same side of the street. I suspect that they all have harbor views. The street level view was taken in 2007. Could it be worse than what's shown on google Earth?

This does not seem like a good year for historic buildings. For instance, earlier this week, this happened:


A 2-millenia old monument demolished... for roadfill.

I lived in a place in Toronto that I detested. It was built in 1950, was a too-small house on a too-big lot, which meant hours of my life were wasted mowing useless grass. The house was full of air leaks, impossible to heat, and the previous owner had made modifications that cost me many hours and many dollars to put right.

A small local developer bought it and three other houses on the end of that block and built 10 really nice homes in their place. When they made me their offer, I told them I'd drop the price by $2000 if I could ride on the bulldozer that tore the place down. They wouldn't go for it, insurance reasons, they said. So I asked them to keep me posted about when it would be destroyed so I could at least photograph the happy moment. They called me at work one Monday morning but by the time I got there, there wasn't much left. If I wasn't so self-conscious, I'd have danced a jig on what remained of the front lawn.

Some places are worth preserving. Others aren't.

We had a similar thing happen in Downey, CA, where a 50's style diner was illegally demolished. (They didn't even turn off the gas!)

I can't tell you how many of my photographic subjects no longer exist. Once in Maine and now in Texas. Old barns collapsed under a snow load, elements of rural Texas bulldozed to make way for the new etc. Camden is a beautiful town. Shame to see historic buildings disappear.

Sometimes the city councillors stand up to rogue developers, but only sometimes.


Jim, that's just heartbreaking. Camden is such a lovely, classic New England town. I've always thought that communities should have three zoning designations: Residential, Commercial, and Oversized and/or Tasteless. (Properties in this 3rd zone can be either residential or commercial). McMansions are proof that many aren't blessed with both cents and sense.

It's also sad to read so often of fine subjects never photographed. As a society, we seem to do a poor job of balancing our time between obligations and passions. That's a shame since through one we merely exist, through the other we live.

I think I found the picture of the house in the article below. I don't know about permissions or copyrights though ...


And here is the photo in larger size


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