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EXPLORING THE ABANDONED
(The House of Foil)
(The House of Foil)
Another day, another abandoned house. John Arehart is a photographer and Photoshop magician, and has worn the hats of Creative Director and Art Director in the advertising world. He has traveled to many places, but chooses to live in Glen Rock with his wife, Pat. They have two grown daughters.
When I was 8 years old I went for a walk in the woods with my older sister. We came upon an abandoned playground, quiet and spooky with overgrown weeds and broken swing sets. I have a vivid memory of peeking through the tall grass in Baton Rouge at this incredible sight: creepy and awesome at the same time. I’ve been hooked on abandoned locations ever since.
Later as an adult, when I wasn’t on set in my job as an art director, I was out looking for abandoned buildings to explore and document. I always find them. Some gutted and empty, others packed full of personal belongings left behind.
I take nothing… but pictures.
I've explored hundreds over the years but this one, back in September 2019, was different. At first glance it looked like your typical old farmhouse set back from the main road. As I got a little closer, I noticed that all the windows on the side of the house were covered with aluminum foil. I didn't think much about it, at first.
I walked around to the back and saw that the kitchen door was open. I had to go in. The house was clearly abandoned. Insulation hung down from the ceiling and there was a horrible smell of mold and mildew. It was very dark inside, so I opened one of the shades over the kitchen sink. Most of the ceiling panels had collapsed into the room. Personal belongings everywhere, along with cobwebs and mold. This place was totally trashed, looked like it had been abandoned for 40 years, yet the calendar on the wall said 2013. I opened the fridge and it was still full of food. The date on the eggs was March 2014.
While peeking into a few cabinets and drawers, that’s when I noticed the strangest thing — sheets of aluminum foil on the inside of the cabinet doors, lining the kitchen drawers. even behind the pictures hanging on the kitchen wall.
When I reached the living room, it was messy, but nothing like the kitchen or dining room. Personal belongings included books, furniture, paperwork, computers, radios, knick-knacks, even a full liquor cabinet. The windows were covered in foil and there was also a large piece taped to the wall. I removed it from two of the windows to get some natural light in the house.
The more I looked around, the more foil I noticed — sometimes just a random patch on a wall or on the floor. In other rooms it was covering the windows. Nothing made sense in this house. Why foil here but not there? What I saw next sent chills through me.
Looking from one bedroom into another I could see what looked like an entire room wallpapered in aluminum foil. The only light was coming from the hallway. I moved closer. Not only was it over the windows, it was also on the walls, the ceiling and the floor. It was also on the bed, as if it was a blanket. On the doorframe itself was a broken motion detector. There was so much foil that it took me a minute to realize that there were windows in this room . They had been completely covered.
Clothing in the closets, underwear and socks in the dresser but the place was trashed. The bed was in the middle of the room. No electricity, no running water and more cobwebs than in Herman Munster's house.
I started snapping pictures like crazy, knowing I might never have the nerve to go back into that house once I got out of it. Who had lived here? Were they trying to stay warm or were they trying to keep the aliens out?
I felt safe once I got down to the first floor, so I took one more look in the liquor cabinet. I got down really low and spotted a square aluminum container tucked in the back. Who puts a dead person's ashes in their liquor cabinet? Someone's name was written on it. I took a picture of it and left.
As soon as I got home, I looked up the name, the address and everything I could possibly find out about that house. Three male names kept coming up. Male #1 died at age 61 in 1994. Those were his ashes. Male #2 was 88. He died in 2008. According to the internet, Male #3 is 53. He’s alive and well. So where is he?
Google says he still lives THERE.
I've driven by that house many times since my first visit. All the windows I had uncovered to let the light in are now covered again. 🏚️