One of the more striking things about rural Illinois is the number of abandoned buildings. This includes buildings on properties that are otherwise clearly in active use - the old, empty barns tumbling down alongside newer, occupied machine sheds and similar types of buildings, to be sure. But also included in that list of unoccupied and unloved structures in the scenery are more personal places, like old schoolhouses and homes.

In some cases a place may just be clearly empty, but otherwise in good repair. It may be a home that you drive by regularly, across multiple times of day and night, and simply never see a vehicle in the drive, never a light on in the window, perhaps the care of the grounds isn't routinely attended to. These places seem to simply be waiting, hoping for new occupants to arrive and reinvigorate them.

In other cases, you will find former homes in various stages of tumbledown, sometimes at its earliest stage, where an enterprising homeowner might have the opportunity to pull it back from the abyss. Other times it's clear the building is beyond all hope.





In many ways these abandoned places simply reflect changes in the way people live, and in the way we move about. Fewer people live in rural areas now than they used to, and our small towns used to be part of the major thoroughfares for travel. Highways used to wend their way through rural towns, often directly through the downtown business district. The interstates have usurped that role, and often now people from other places recognize a small town by name only if it appears on a highway exit sign. Even then, what they know of the town itself may be limited to the gas stations, restaurants, and hotels that appear around the exit.

But while these decaying structures often just sit and embrace entropy, there are cases where property owners reclaim the space for other things. It might be hard to believe, but this lot, not terribly far from home, used to hold a small house and a couple of outbuildings:


I remember the house well from growing up out here - the bus went past it every day. It was nothing special - painted white, a story and a half, and perhaps 1000 square feet of floorplan. It was no architectural treasure, and likely no one will mourn its loss, myself included. Since taking the picture the piles of earth have been smoothed out, and the space is indistinguishable from the farmland that used to surround it. It will likely soon host a crop of corn or beans.

Ultimately, it seems likely that this is what will continue to occur out in these parts - this very rural area will become much more so, with homes themselves ever further and fewer between.