Posts Tagged ‘Farming’

Bring Me Back to Life
The Abandoned Great Barrington Fairgrounds

Written by: Wilk
Photographs by: Lassie

I first fell in love with the town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in the fall of 2013. I was up there filming an action movie for a few weeks, and the town became like a second home to me. Nestled deep in the picturesque wilderness of the Berkshire Mountains, Great Barrington was the true personification of an old school New England town. Locally owned small businesses line the streets. There’s a farmer’s market once a week during the fall. An old mansion keeps watch over the center of town. It is a true community. But there is one place here in town that doesn’t quite fit in. In the shadow of the mountains, an old relic of the past slowly crumbles into the fertile New England ground. And though she may not look it anymore, she was once one of the crown jewels of the local community. This is the Great Barrington Fairgrounds, and she has been left to rot on and off for many years.

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The Great Barrington Fairgrounds opened during the late eighteen-hundreds. It began as a place for the local farmers to trade and showcase their goods with the rest of the community. Horse-racing was added in several years later, and quite literally took off. Over the next hundred years, the Great Barrington Fairgrounds became well known around the region as one of the biggest and best tracks around. They were even hosts to the longest running harvest fair in all of New England. She began to hit major prominence in the 1940’s when the interest in horse racing spiked to an all-time high. But as we all know, no good thing can last forever. Over the next few years, that very same frivolous interest that made the Great Barrington Fairgrounds so popular began to steadily decline. The grounds were finally shut down in 1983. There was an attempt to revive the facility in 1997, but it was short-lived. The grounds closed for good shortly after.

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We visited Great Barrington once again in the fall of 2015. The deserted fairgrounds were there to greet us as soon as we arrived in town. The old racetrack has become completely overgrown. The stands have been defaced with graffiti and vandalism. A rusty chain-link fence still surrounds the complex, though it doesn’t appear to do much good. Though the fairgrounds are in rough shape, there is currently a strong movement amongst the local community to restore the Great Barrington Fairgrounds to their former glory. While exploring the grounds, we encountered a few of their volunteers setting up for a wine tasting being held the next day. Since the property was purchased by the Elsbach family in 2012, they have been making an effort to redevelop the land for the good of the community. They are called GBFB, and their mission is to “preserve and restore the environmental health of the fairground site.” Though these grounds may be abandoned, there just might be hope to bring them back to life.

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If you are interested in donating, volunteering, or learning more about GBFB, please visit their website here – http://gbfg.org/

A Peaceful Feeling

Abandoned in the Center of Town

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

In a small town in Connecticut, an empty house is slowly devoured by the forests that surround it. Windows and doors have been busted open. An old barn slowly decays in the front yard. The once firm driveway is now nothing more than a gravel path. Wild vines and briars steadily grow like gnarling teeth across the outer walls. All of this stands in plain sight of the town of Hebron, Connecticut. A house slowly dies in plain sight here. The rest of the town just goes on about their business. They pay no attention to it. Cars go by. People get their groceries. Businesses rise and fall. But not a second glance is given to this place that someone, not too long ago, called home. We’ve explored many abandoned houses in the past, but none of them have been literally smack dab in the center of town. They’ve often been in some desolate country road or lost in the woods. But this place stands alone, crying out for help. But nobody answers.

 The town of Hebron, Connecticut, was founded in the year 1704. It is one of the older towns in the area. It was officially incorporated into Hartford County in 1708. About a century later, parts of Hebron officially became a part of the newly established township of Marlborough, my home town. Throughout its history, Hebron was well known for being a strong farming community. Much of its rolling countryside was home to countless family farms and homesteads. Though the town has changed significantly over the years, many farms can still be found in the town. Along Route 66, several large chicken and dairy farms can be seen alongside the busy road just over the Columbia border. Unfortunately, just a few miles down the road, one former home lies empty and abandoned. Much like the other abandoned homes we have visited over the years, we were not able to find much of any information about this old house. From what we have gathered, it has been abandoned for at no more than eight years.

Though this abandoned house lays smack dab in the center of town, someone clearly doesn’t want anyone visiting it. NO TRESPASSING and KEEP OUT signs are posted along the property. Oddly enough, the closest neighbor to the old abandoned house is actually the resident CVS Pharmacy. Dozens of patrons visit the pharmacy every day, with little knowledge of what lies amongst the underbrush. The house is rather hard to get to. Nasty briars and thick vegetation surround the house, making it very difficult to reach or even see for that matter. With no one left to stand in her way, Mother Nature is slowly reclaiming this former home. The upper attic of the house is now home to plenty of birds and probably some bats too. We could see plenty of nests from the outside. The exteriors of the house are in very poor shape. A television antenna has fallen off the roof, but never made it to the ground as it has become entangled in the vines growing along the gutters.

The front door of the house was wide open. Inside, it was quiet as a tomb. The front door entered right into the kitchen, which had been completely gutted. A few items of liter lay strew about. The old stove was curiously still there and in good shape. We actually found very little evidence of vandalism in the house. There was a couple graffiti designs tagged in one of the rooms, but that was about it. The rest of the house was empty. There were several large dark rooms, but pretty much everything had been cleared out. We were unable to find any entrance to the upstairs, and the house did not appear to have a basement. We did find a haunting clue as to who might have been the final occupant of the house: an old cane still stood in what appeared to be the family room. A yellowing copy of the Lord’s Prayer was still tacked to the wall. And judging from the modifications to the house’s bathroom, an elderly person once dwelled here. Perhaps their spirit still haunted these dark hallways.

They say that there is a peaceful feeling in letting go. It is that moment, when you just can’t hold on anymore, that you find a relative peace. Perhaps it is the fact that the pain is gone. Perhaps it is in the realization that you don’t have to fight anymore. Personally, I believe it is the moment when you are finally ready to move on. And sadly enough, the town of Hebron, much like the family of whoever once lived here, seems to have moved on. This old house has been lost, leaving it to be slowly engulfed by the surrounding forest. But there is a peaceful feeling amongst all of this. While the old house slowly disappears, the town continues grow and flourish. What was once a home to man, now have become the home to nature. And we can only hope that over time this old house, much like its former residents, can finally rest in peace.

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