Even when it's a little sad

I remember photographing a really spectacular house that obviously hadn't been occupied in years. The house was only about 10 years old, and I knew it was a foreclosure property. My guess is that someone had built the house with a lot of ambitions for it but couldn't afford the cost over time. Maybe the owner lost his/her job. But it was obviously custom-built. It had beautiful wood floors with dark inlay framing the space around the edges. The living room and kitchen had 20-foot ceilings, and two-story windows lined the back of the house. The central hall went up three stories, and a narrow spiral staircase stood in one corner. And an elevator. I sure could have used that elevator, but the house had no electricity. The spiral staircase looked cool but was actually thin and unstable. I had to go up and down it several times carrying a lot of camera equipment, and each time I feared the whole thing would collapse. I never did find a way to get to the third floor. I assume that the elevator was the only way to get up there. The house had lots and lots of rooms, but I never figured out how several would have been used. Even without furniture, the interior was amazing, and I spent hours photographing that interior, hoping to do it justice.

The exterior was less impressive, but it had once had potential. The deck on the back wrapped around two sides and extended far out from the house. At the front were large double doors and bay windows. At the top of the roof stood a cupola, not just a decorative cupola but one large enough to actually be used. Unlike the interior, the exterior was never going to win any design awards, but it was meant to impress. On the other hand, the owner had, apparently, little love for landscaping. A few scraggly azalea bushes were all that remained of plantings. A broken bird bath leaned to one side. A little bit of gravel had been spread for the circular drive. Tall weeds everywhere now. After years of neglect, part of the porch was rotting, and I feared breaking through the boards if I didn't watch my step. I could see rotting wood up among the eaves as well. Such a shame. I tried, of course, to make it appear its best in my photos, but a landscaper and a handyman are what it really needed.

Despite all of my effort to bring out the value still in the house, my photos were never actually published. Over the last couple of years, I've occasionally checked on the house's status. It passes, periodically, from one realtor to another, and the price drops. Once I offered my photos for free to one of the later realtors, but he didn't take me up on the offer.

I got some great photos of that house for my portfolio, but I've always felt a little sad about the fate of that amazing place.