My Screwdriver is My Best Friend

blackmask/pvd Site Icon Hospital Drive


It had been almost four years since my last trip to Connecticut to visit the 'wich. That trip back in 2006 had ended abruptly after running into the crew for VH1's Celebrity Paranormal Activity, which was ironically kind of terrifying. Maybe not quite as terrifying as it would have been to run into Gary Busey in an abandonment. I might have been 20 at the time, and the kids I was visiting with were 17 and 18. I wasn’t interested in a finding out how getting charged with Aiding and Abetting a Minor works, so our visit ended with a headlong sprint through the pitch the black tunnels, towards the train tracks. That trip, along with recent news the place had finally transitioned from private security to police patrols, had me wondering if it was worth it to go back. Fortunately, I had a friend who had been there “like, literally hundreds of times” and when our half-assed attempt to drive to Poughkeepsie went bust, we wound up here in Connecticut.

We decided to start with the buildings on the eastern side of the road, near the lake. He hadn’t seen them in a while, and I had always avoided them after hearing stories about SWAT drills taking place on this side of the campus. So we made our way through the first building we happened upon, which despite it being a tiny outlying building, offered some new things to shoot. The air inside was cold and musty, and made me think about the trips I had made here when I was just out of high school. The floor was that familiar tile and moss, and the plaster on the walls was still crumbling away to reveal the thin rusted metal beams that lined the inside of the walls. That familiar sense of relaxation set in when you realize that you’re done huffing up the hill in a sweatshirt with 30lbs of camera gear, and now you’re safely hidden inside some old temple dedicated to the worship of early 1900s mental health. Read more...

blackmask/pvd Site Icon The Dead


As stated before, we had tried and failed to visit the dead train cars on the northern end of Aquidneck Island before. But this second trip was successful. We also took a look at a couple other spots that managed to deliver a whole lot of average.

This time around we started good and late in the day. None of that wake up early and get out there crap. Around lunch time, the day kicked off with a plate of eggs and fell-on-the-floor-bacon for my friend, and a cup of chilli with American cheese for me. Blech. After gagging that shit down, we figured the day couldn’t get worse.

The first spot we checked out looked like what had once been a restaurant and inn, directly across the street from the diner. Getting onto the property was a little weird, because it was surrounded on all sides by homes, and for whatever reason everyone decided to go out and mow their lawn at the same time. Now, from the road, this place looked like it had a clean yard, and some landscape machinery of its own, and we were worried about how abandoned it actually was. Upon closer inspection, the answer turned out to be, very, very, abandoned. The place looked like, a very long time ago, it had been completely sealed shut. We happened upon a spot with a board removed and found a mangled kitchen, full of broken plates, smashed walls and shredded fibreglass insulation. But man, the worst part was probably the smell. There was plenty of light getting in from were we stood, but the room still looked dark. Everything was coated in thick black mold and reeked of pneumonia and death. So, I definitely wasn’t going in there. You are more than welcome too, just make sure you bring some bleach to take a bath in after you leave. Read more...

blackmask/pvd Site Icon The Park Mill


This was a random find while out on a bike ride around the central part of the state. Since it faced a local highway, I figured I would “make a note of it” and try to come back for pictures another day, and probably incredibly early in the morning. A few weeks went by, and while this my next visit was pending, I discovered that a friend of a friend was pretty familiar with the spot, so we coordinated a trip for the next weekend. Upon arrival, we received the first surprise when we found his entry had been very recently sealed up. It was a busy spot, and for a few awkward minutes we stood in the parking lot that faced the road, inept delinquents on display while we tried to come to a conclusion as to what to do next. We decided to punt and made a second attempt. It turns out that we had seriously overcomplicated this, and probably embarrassed ourselves trying to get in once again — though, we did manage to. Read more...

blackmask/pvd Site Icon Bruce Mill


After batting a thousand the weekend before, we decided to go check out a spot I’ve driven past for years and never bothered to check out. The attraction was a stately old factory left to rot at the intersection of two state highways that ran through town. This old mill had once been part of the thriving jewellery industry that helped build the town. The business closed sometime during the 90s, and the factory was shuttered soon afterwards. The site eventually saw a bit of life again after being updated, subdivided, and converted for reuse as shopping and studio units. Apparently the site was host to a Hapkido dojo, a ballet studio, and someone who painted those awful, weird, creepy oil portraits from those equally abysmal photographs of your kids from Sears. Fortunately for everyone, that place went out of business.

The location itself was a mixed bag of “seen-it” and totally weird, unique stuff. More than anything, I was struck by just how mangled the place was. Before long, it felt like there was nothing left to photograph on the inside (other than the typical long hallways and macros of peeling paint) and I kept having that urge to climb out onto the roof and take pictures of the building itself. But the ground floor was hard cement, and the gravel roof was more holes than roof. Read more...