Empty buildings full of stories

On our Christmas travels through the Berkshire Mountains, to my parents’ house in upstate New York and back home to a Boston suburb, we passed several vacant, abandoned businesses.

They were in various states of disrepair. Some had signs as a reminder of what they had been. Others had signs that they were for sale or lease, the past or present hope that a future was still possible.

Some had neither, and some had both.

And all of them were a good idea, at some time, to somebody.

Unless they have some kind of connection, most people driving by abandoned businesses and restaurants probably have no idea of what was in those buildings, and probably the same amount of interest.

What were the good times? Were there any? What did it feel like, look like, sound like when things were going well?

But each has its own story to tell, if you ask enough questions.

To start with … why? Why that spot? Why that time? Was the price reasonable? Was the town growing or bustling? Was the town home? Did Main Street in the center of town seem like the perfect place? Did a winding, narrow road in a mountain town?

What was the business? Was it something seemingly everyone wanted? Was it a diner or restaurant? Was it trying to turn a passion into a business?

What were the good times? Were there any? What did it feel like, look like, sound like when things were going well? Who came? What it a place where people came in, did their business and left, or a place where people hung out and socialized as a gathering point for the community?

When did it start to go badly, or did it go badly from the beginning? What happened? How did it become clear? At what point did it become too much to continue?

Did anyone else ever make a go of it? If so, what made them think they could succeed? When did they realize they couldn’t, either?

What’s next? Is there a chance that someone else could give it another shot, or is the building destined to continue decaying? Could it be like the bank near where my parents live that was abandoned for 20 or 30 years before being torn down to make room for a new, large, bright convenience store on the site?

What will it look like if someone drives by 20 years from now, or a year from now?

Photo by Rebecca Matthews on Unsplash. Thanks to her, we know at least some of the story of the business pictured above. It’s in Abbeville, South Carolina, where the town motto is “Pretty. Near. Perfect.”

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