Abandoned Texas | The Orphanage
Flaws Stitched Together by Good Intentions
Soaking up nearly nine decades’ worth of history, the sprawling campus now bears its scars, some more than just physical. Blink while heading north down a narrow highway and you just might miss it. For 32 years, the Woodmen Circle home propagated the mutualistic relationship of orphans and widows, with the latter caring for the former. Following its closure, the property changed hands, at one point serving as a commune for alleged cult leader Ariel Sherman. Fast forward through a case of neglect sparked by a child’s death, a slew of fires, and rampant vandalism - and here we are today.
That distinct smell of damp, dusty plaster fills the air, every footstep gingerly calculated over mounds of rubble. Life and decay intermingle here - giant cinderblocks poke precariously through the wooden boards in the ceiling, endless vines weaving a feeble safety net overhead. Little here hasn’t been disturbed, so we drift like ghosts, taking nothing but the dust on our shoes.
What we capture, however, is much more than meets the lens.
There’s movement up on the third floor, an occasional rustle just loud enough to prompt paranoid glances toward the staircase. We drift onward, reduced to gestures and whispers from beneath our breathing masks.
A strange dichotomy of ugliness and beauty surrounds us here - the former immortalized by the 12mm Rokinon f/2 and the latter magnified through the vintage glass of a 50mm Pentax Super-Takumar f/1.4. The rough textures of exposed brick and rusted pipes sit in pensive silence under layers of bright spray paint. Messages innocuous to jarring greet us at every turn - Jesus loves you, but Sophie is a dirty whore.
A half-breath stuck in our throats, we finally ascend that staircase. The monster waiting for us, the paranoia-inducing invisible serial killer making his presence known with that persistent rustling sound, it’s just a loose plastic tarp billowing in the wind.
To passers-by, it may not be more than an aging landmark, an eyesore. But decades of emotion have accumulated inside, from the grieving but hopeful orphans to the vandals recklessly claiming its walls as their own.
And now, it’s captured ours.