Empty Old Church Left Behind in Florida

Harmony Free Will Baptist Church | Union County Florida | c. 1912

Yesterday, on a trip home down a familiar route, I looked forward to passing through some of my favorite Old Florida towns. Towns I have been speeding through for years, admiring their old charm from the comfort of my car as I made my way to the next dot on the map. 

Each time I made this trip, telling myself that I would have to come back and capture these places later as I raced to an obscure hunch in the middle of nowhere. There was just never enough time in the day.

Yesterday was the same kind of day. I was leaving Jacksonville and headed back to Gainesville with just a few hours to spare before I had to be clocked in. As I watched the multitude of old places along the route whiz past my window at 65mph, a familiar bend in the road gave way to one of the saddest sights to me; there stood a lonely chimney with no house left to warm and support.

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It had once adorned a beautiful and quaint old Florida home dating to the late 1800s. I had passed it at least 100 times, and each time I craned my neck to admire it and ponder how long it had been sitting there abandoned. But I was always on my way to somewhere else or didn’t have my camera, or it was raining, or I had passengers who didn’t want to stop. There was always some excuse not to and since I passed here so frequently, there was always the next drive, I told myself. But yesterday, I think I needed to be reminded that there won’t always be a next time.

There are so many talented photographers who spend countless time and resources traveling around our planet, seeking out and capturing the last breaths of places that aren’t long for this world. Providing visions and experiences to many who wouldn’t have ever glanced upon them and creating a photographic record that I realized the importance of on my drive yesterday. Of course, buildings can’t stand forever and I realize all of them will reach the same eventual fate. But while they are still here amongst us, I will be hunting them down in every obscure corner and well-traveled route that I can get myself to.

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And in honor of the beautiful old home that I never photographed, I thought I would share one of my most favorite old structures that I fear will meet the same fate very soon. Built in the early 1900s, this old church is being bolstered by one lonely wooden beam that will surely give way before too long. At least I stopped to capture this one.

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