Abandoned in Benton, IN 1975
When I first lived in Indiana in the early seventies, I found this old house abandoned in the country near Benton. It was a classic Second Empire, all intact and original and very empty. Inside it was dark and hard to see because most of the windows were boarded up but I remember noticing the woodwork was faux finished with a wood grain.. I took a series of slides that were in a cigar box in my apartment when I lived briefly in San Francisco a few years later. They were stolen, along with my camera and anything else that looked appealing when our apartment was broken into. This one happened to be somewhere else and survived. It shows some of the woodwork with it's original brown paint. There was a marker on the house that had the date, sometime in the 1880's. I went back in the early eighties with a friend who was a professional photographer and he took more pictures and for some reason I didn't.
I was so interested in the house that I found out who the owner was, a Weddel Berkey who was a lawyer in Goshen. I went to his office to inquire about whether he would be interested in selling the house. I got as far as his receptionist who said, "Whatever you want to know about the place, the answer is NO!"
Not long after that a group of teenagers, reputed to be a cult, thought that it would be interesting and productive to burn the house down. The last I saw was a newspaper picture of it in flames. For many years the location sat empty after the remains were bulldozed. Eventually someone bought the land and there are now several new houses on the lot. No one would ever know now what had been there.
One interesting thing about this house was that it was way out in the country but was in a style that would have been much more common in cities. There, it would be seen by the public since a lot of this architecture fed that upwardly mobile population's need for conspicuous consumption. When this high style French inspired architecture took a precipitous fall in popularity after the turn of the century, the examples out in the country may have been less likely to have been seen as anachronistic, thus surviving. Here are some pictures of a house that suffered the same fate in Ohio: