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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Desuetude

I have been working on a creative project involving depictions of various local landmarks, which yesterday gave me the opportunity to haul out my camera and trek around the Augusta Canal and the downtown area.  What I found was (with the exception of the Columbia County-run canal headgates) distressing.  Ten years ago, Augusta seemed headed for revitalization, with long-abandoned stretches of Broad Street being refurbished and occupied by new businesses.  The Riverwalk was expanding, and old mills along the water which had long ceased to operate were being converted into posh apartments.

It's a bit like Pripyat now--as if everything suddenly ground to a halt, and the people fled with what they could carry not long after I moved to DC.  There are weeds growing in the parking lots and from between the bricks of the sidewalks.  Most of downtown Broad Street is shuttered again.  Even the legendary Snake Lady Lounge (where, rumor had it, a woman performed wearing nothing but a small g-string and a large boa constrictor) is gone (either the snake ate the lady or the lady the snake, I presume).  The Riverwalk looks unkempt, and the National Science Museum (which promised to bring families with children to the area) has pulled up stakes.  The buildings which were fixed up at great cost of time and money are falling to pieces again, chunks of masonry and wood missing from beside their windows.  It's just horrible.

The old Richmond Academy Building, which for years housed the Augusta Museum of History (which had in its collection a fascinating series of jars holding formaldehyde-preserved fetuses-- showing the stages of development from conception to birth--these are no longer on display in the new facility).  The whole facade is crumbling.


This picture flatters the old Union Baptist Church, whose details were rotting.  It has some lovely stained-glass windows, though--I'd like to get inside on a sunny day!


This textile mill on the site of the old Confederate Powder Works closed down six years ago, after more than 100 years of continuous operation.  I wonder how long it will remain ruined?


Cool, but rusted Victorian details.


Now, most of this sign is normal for the US as a whole, but the way the hours are listed, I think, is peculiar to the South.


Even in the midst of poverty and decay, beauty! A field near the Augusta Water Works was purple with these lovely weeds.  I took photos with my zoom lens (you know how I've been lamenting over not having one?  I should have looked in my camera bag--I had one, but my mother had apparently never used it, as it was still in a plastic sleeve.  Now, all I need is a wide-angle lens...).

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