Mythology of Life: Shadows

Ashmore Estates was most recently a facility for the mentally and physically disabled. Prior it was a poor farm. It was shut down in 1987 for failing many health and safety codes. In its vacancy, it has fallen prey to vandals -- broken windows, graffiti, and likely other destructive acts. I had heard of this place through a coworker, and it intrigued me. I had mentioned the eerieness of this place in a previous post. In scouring the internet for any kind of information, I found there's too much history to this building that I had to see it in person. It seemed like perfect timing to scout it out when Allie was visiting me, so off on an adventure we went.

What struck me at first was how this building seemed as if it was covered with shadow of its history, reflecting a time that has passed and people who have since left. Hidden away on a gravel road in the middle of the country, it has become an eyesore, obscured only by the overgrowth of trees and shrubs -- a kind of disguise.

Armed only with cameras, Allie and I set out to explore its depths and perhaps to figure it out. The place is in really bad shape. I entered knowing there was risk -- of being caught, of injuring myself. But when you choose to be an explorer, you have to accept those consequences. This may seem like child's play to you bolder folks out there, but trust me when I say this was a major step for me -- trespassing. Sounds so daring, doesn't it?

As I explored the halls and rooms, I made sure to test the tiles for integrity and mind
the broken glass littering the floors. It's easy to see the building holds a mysterious sadness, as if has carried so many burdens and now has become the burden itself. A victim of neglect and destruction.

The few pieces of furniture brought a sense of life -- a wooden bed frame, a dresser with drawers half opened, a couch by the window. They were the remnants of the people who lived here, reflecting in their disheveled states the disorder those occupants endured in their lives.

One hallway reminded me of a scene from the movie, Session 9. Allie and I watched it after our visit and were even more frightened by the imagery because it felt so surreal -- the similarities were creepy. We agreed it was best
that we saw the movie after our visit and not before.

Rumors on the internet is that Ashmore is haunted. Do I think it is haunted? That depends on what you bring to it. If you can feel the history of a place and imagine the conversations that echoed through the walls, then you have made a connection. In a way, the building inhabits you as much as you do it. If you see the building around you and what it has become, you cannot help but feel a bit of sorrow. It hits you on an emotional level, I think. As for being afraid of it or what lies inside, that is a haunt we bring with us, and one that
will follow us in all the dark places we must travel. Unless I ever witness otherwise, I think the ghosts exist only in the mind.

After taking many pictures, reading the tags on the walls, and feeling generally creeped out
, it felt good to be outside. Allie and I explored maybe half of the building, so there may be another time for me to see what other mysteries it has to offer. My hope is that it survives that long.

Ashmore Estates is a shadow of what it once was -- a place that sheltered those who were in need. Now it is consumed by graffiti and the earth itself, slowly being erased. I'm glad I was able to visit and preserve a piece of this place.

To read Allie's account of our trip, check out her blog post.


Bryan said...

Those always are the spookiest places, those that have a certain history which fits in well with our ideas about what is haunting, in this case a condemed mental/social institution. The overgrowth helps making it creepy too. Another place that fits in well is an old colonial house with slave quarters etc. and a story to go with it as told by a certain lazy busser in the stead of his grandmother wherein candle flames seem to float around by themselves. Remember that?

Allie D. said...

It was an adventure indeed! It really makes me want to pursue more of them. I think the adrenaline and sense of wonder of exploring places like this can become a little bit addictive.

Robert said...

The forth picture looks like part of the exterior of the mansion in Stephen King's Rose Red. BTW in hacker circles "trespassing" is known as Urban Exploration. Except maybe in this case it was rural/suburban exploration.

Army said...

Bryan, I DO remember that story! I also remember when you, me, Brooke, Anna, and Brian went to that old house in Middletown and to those sewer tunnels, too! I was too afraid to check them out : )

Robert, I have heard the term Urban Exploration before, and you are totally right... this was more of a Rural Exploration, LOL -- I've been reading up on some great UE adventures on the website Infiltration -- check it out on my Sweet Hook-Ups list!

Allie, you find some places in Washington and I'll come out there for another round of exploration -- we're hooked for sure!

Mike Kleen said...

excelent post, thanks for linking my website. Your black and white pictures are awesome, but I've got to warn you... I found out recently that the owner of Ashmore Estates is very 'unfriendly' towards people who go in there if he catches them...

Army said...

Mike, thanks for the heads-up! I'm very interested to hear what you mean by unfriendly, as I'm sure he is quite ticked about all the vandalism.

I will certainly heed your warning. And thank you for posting excellent information on this place and others in Coles County. Fascinating reads!

Corey said...

Very cool, Chris. You got some great pictures out of this along with a healthy amount of adventure. It's such a beautiful old building. Too bad it has fallen into such disrepair.

Urban Exploration is also known as Urban Spelunking. I like that term because it evokes some fun imagery and spelunking is just a great word.

Allie D. said...

Hi Corey!! :)

I like Urban Spelunking too. It makes me think of diving in some sewer tunnel. LOL

feyonce' said...

LOVING the B&W pics. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it, and the rest of your week-o-fun!

PS Allison, I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to meet you! I had a prior commitment which turned into an overnight adventure. It wasn't quite urban spelunking but still eventful. Don't tell my fiance!

Scott said...

My name si Scott, I am the new owner of Ashmore Estates. New meaning as of 7/15/06. I appreciated the passion in your blog of the descripton of your visit. I to have a passion for this awesome place. I am not the owner Michael wrote about in earlier comments. He was right about the previous owner though. I do allow people to enter the building in one of a few ways. I hold tours, allow paranormal investigations, hold a entertainment Haunted House in the building in the May/June and Sept/Oct timeframes and have the building listed as a place for film makers to shoot video fro films. Don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like to go through the building again. I do have to warn you that Rural Spelunking is trespassing and I don't want people (uninvited) in the building. I have had 4 people arrested in the past - probably best to contact me first.
I do plan on fixing the building up and securing the structure. The design to the building is awesome. You and you readers can contact me through the website Hope to meet you someday!
Scott - The Spookmeister of Ashmore Estates