Riches in the Ruins

In writing, as with any kind of intense pursuit, it’s important to have a balance while you’re doing it. I came up here to the Colony with a lot of work to do, and I’ve certainly achieved that. I even managed to get out to a few things—an art gallery opening, a wonderful dinner party at the Mailer house, a poetry reading. Last weekend, however, after working intensely for three or four days and only attending these events in the evenings, I realized I was feeling a little caged in. I wasn’t getting out enough.

Enter my next-door neighbor, Peter, and his friend Duff. They live here year-round and I definitely hold them among the coolest people I’ve ever met. During the first week I was here, I’d discussed with them my passion for abandoned places and urban exploring (something I do, in reality, very little of—I mostly just look at other explorer’s photos). And they had a surprise for me: some abandoned jewels just down the road apiece. Would I like to go? Hell, yeah!

So this past Sunday, although it was a bit nippy, it was sunny and a beautiful day to be out—in many ways, there’s no better weather in which to visit an abandoned place. All that beauty (especially by the sea) is so incongruous with the empty places, the rotting places, the places where, if you listen closely enough, you can hear the echoes of the lives that happened in them. I came home inspired; a new short story is cooking in my brain as we speak. In an odd way, all that incongruity—and being away from my keyboard for a full day—restored my balance.

Here are photos and videos of our day–we visited a base, most of which is now nature preserve and open to the public; some of it is still in use by local organizations, but the base ceased operations in 1985. The other building was a biology lab, and I’m not sure when that closed–although its closing pre-dated the late 1990s judging from graffiti on the walls.

Apparently, there are a couple more places, but we ran out of daylight. Here’s to hoping I get an opportunity to go see the rest before I leave!

Organized tour? NOT.

Walking Tour #1: A bit of background.

“[There’s just] all kinds of stuff out here…”

Next few pix: Seriously? This place is reminiscent of the set of The Last Man on Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price, precursor to The Omega Man (Charlton Heston, 1971) and I Am Legend (Will Smith, 2007). [If you’ve never seen The Last Man on Earth, or don’t even have any clue what the hell I’m talking about, you owe it to yourself to rent it now.]

These are all single family homes.

There are four streets of them…

Peter on the Roof.

Home sweet home! Those trees’d be a pain in the ass if your dinner party guests had to get through them to find your front door. Yup, that’s me. Martini, anyone? May I bring your slippers?

Broken merry-go-round on the playground.

Many years ago, parents sat on this bench and watched their kids:

Here’s a shelter where people, most likely, waited for transportation:

We were pretty fascinated with this cover, which we could have probably pried open if we’d had a crowbar. Check out the design, the year, and the strange symbols. Drunken mischief? Or does somebody have, like, food and stuff socked away down there (I didn’t put the photo here, but beneath this cement platform there are what appear to be air vents).

Fallen electrical equipment. The storms out here do get pretty wild.

I’m not sure what caused this hole. It was in one of the front windows of a home–a window that would have most likely looked into the family room. Where a Christmas Tree probably would have been.

Interior. What’s with all the weird art?

Dormant dining room.

These trees reminded me of scenes in Sleepy Hollow.

Walking toward the sea.

Abandoned beach.

The Abandoned Beach Cliff Adventure. This is truly great!

Nathan shot this while we were chatting.

An abandoned cistern. This view struck me as reminiscent of the pool area from which the piranha escaped in Piranha (1978).

I was fascinated by this creepy picnic area.


Obviously, someone was here before us…whoever it was drank his beer, but left a near-full pack of Marlboros.

From this point forward, we’re going counter-clockwise through the place. This was a loading door of some kind — the opening was large enough to fit a small vehicle through.

This is the area to the left of the door.

Notice this spiral painted on the wall–it looks like the same spiral painted on the man-hole cover I pointed out earlier. Weird.

Ceiling damage in one of the back rooms.

I’m always fascinated by fuse boxes that no longer work. This one I particularly liked because I swear it’s the same model I had in my house growing up. Or maybe they’re all the same anyway? I don’t know.

Could you imagine working in this dark hole? I think it would depress me.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of the New England Horror Writers. Follow her adventures at

Posted on January 28, 2010, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Nice. Reminds me of the time I went out to Governors Island to shoot pictures amid the desolate hospital grounds.

    But hey, let me recommend dinner at Lorraine’s at 133 Commercial St. “New American and Mexican cuisine.” (Wait, that’s a paradox!) Anyway, the enchiladas suizas are terriffic.

    • Awesome! Glad you enjoyed the pix! I will definitely check out Lorraine’s…I was offered two more weeks (so honored!) so now I’ll be here until 2/14. I’ll be here for my birthday on 2/5, so I’ll have to make sure I do something special that night. Perhaps Lorraine’s is it.

  2. Bruce Shillinglaw

    Cool little exploration! I’ve sometimes found myself in such places – though not on the same scale, and I always enjoy poking around, guessing about the people who left, and who might use the spaces for what now . . .

    Could be the chickadees at the other place are used to being fed. They’re remarkably bold – next time you go there, bring along a fistful of sunflower seeds. Stand quietly with the seeds on your open palm, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t alight to take your gift.


    • Yes. That, I think, is what my complete fascination with abandoned stuff is. And to think…Maritime Aquarium’s building, the warehouse part (oh, jeez, I can’t even remember what that room was called now, can you believe it? The one with the Ray Tank)…that was abandoned at one point. I wonder what it looked like.

      Oh, man, it’s so funny you say that about the chickadees! My neighbor Pete says that’s exactly it, and in fact, if you put the damn bird seed up your arm, up they’ll go. I’m planning on doing that the next nice day we have — right now it’s way, way, cold. It’s supposed to warm up in the next few days! Tomorrow, errands — I’m here through Feb. 14! If I actually do get to try Pete’s experiment, I’ll be sure and get pix to post.

  3. LOVED it!! I need to check all of that out next time I get up there. Heard my honey’s voice on the video-I want to go back!!! Gail

    • Gail, that day was AWESOME. It was one of my fondest memories of the whole month I spent there. We really had a great time. My favorite was the abandoned lab. I do have more videos I didn’t post, so I’ll have to see what I have and send it via e-mail. I still have tons of photos I’ve promised to post and e-mail to people, too!

    • Next time I get up there I have to go to the lab. I know that Duff and Pete had been there before and I have heard all about it. Your pics and descriptions are just so perfect. Whenever I need a little piece of P-town I will just come back to your site. We met for a reason my fellow Aquarian!! Peace….

      • The last couple of times I’ve been to Ptown, we’ve talked about going back there AND to the Geology Lab (I even brought all my equipment both times)– and we were interrupted :-(.

        Next time, it’s gotta be a priority. We may just have to pull rank ;-). We’d discussed some pretty cool plans which I’m still hopeful will take place.

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