Tuesday, February 04, 2014


In my first two years of university, I had to take some sort of non-music academic course, my choice. I don’t know if it was my faculty advisor or me who picked a survey course called The History of Architecture, Part 1. Even though the course was a bit dry, the professor who taught it was pretty good and he had terrific slides of all the ancient structures we studied. I was hooked and made sure I was signed up for Part 2 as soon as course selection started for the next term.

I soon realized that the most attractive thing to me in regards to old buildings were the ruined ones (pretty well all of ancient Greek and Roman ones) or those that were abandoned and hadn’t quite fallen into ruins yet. As the years have piled up, my fascination has continued. When we go out hiking on the Bruce Trail here in southern Ontario (a favourite place on which to stretch our legs), if there is the foundation of an old farmhouse, or a wall or two of an abandoned mill, that’s where you’ll find me.

Our trips to England, of course, have been wonderful. Everywhere you look there are ruined castles, feudal manor homes, rundown factories and even some Roman relics here and there. Of course my research trip to Italy in 2011 which saw a stop in Rome provided me with hours of seeing the huge constructions of this long-dead civilization. I didn’t get to see half of what I wanted.

When the weather doesn’t poking around outside, the Internet becomes my favourite way to indulge my hidden interest. At least once a week, I’ll research one old building or another. Right now my wife and I are both delving into the construction of Brunelleschi’s amazing dome for Florence’s cathedral – and believe me, what he managed to design and build is nothing short of amazing.

So here are two collections of abandoned building I recently found on the Internet. As a writer, it’s not hard to look at these and find the germ of ideas for a story or a scene in a larger book. They’re absolutely fascinating to a “ruin junkie” like me.

Hope you enjoy them, too!




Anonymous said...

Abandoned and historical buildings are fantastic for breeding plot bunnies. I follow a few boards on Pinterest for them. :)

Rick Blechta said...

You're right. There is something just so darn fascinating about them. The best thing is to actually visit some of these. Toronto has a very large former generating station down on the Lakeshore and I was lucky enough to get inside it once. Absolutely huge and amazing. I've also been in an underground streetcar station that was built and never used. That place was downright creepy.

Rick Blechta said...

And here's a gallery I just found of one of Toronto's most (in)famous never-completed structures: the Bayview Ghost. Anyone driving up or down the Bayview Extension into the Don Valley near midtown will remember this well.