urban decay

12 Mar

Have a Coke and a smile.

By Silver Blue

Continuing from this post, I thought it best to show you a new found treasure, the current state of the building, and what fate befell the original Coca-Cola plant.

The original set of photos had been taken in 2007; I’d not been back to the neighbourhood in 5 years. What changes would meet me?

The abandoned plant is still in relatively good shape:

The end two Coke bottles still have their coverings over them which were put in place (actually, over all four Coke bottles, the Coca-Cola Logo panels, and the center “Newport News Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Inc”) when the plant was shuttered. I’m surprised that Coke, proper, hasn’t attempted to salvage one of the stone bottles, or some of the stonework. This is history! Then again, to today’s society… history isn’t what it used to be.

The old plant, sadly, met with a disappointing fate. The building was donated to be rehabilitated and repurposed into apartments. The city inspector came, declared the building structurally unsound and condemned it. By the end of December, 2011, it was demolished. This is all that remains of the “curved” building… just a grassy field:

Comparison time:

Still, there was a bit of magic to behold.

Across the street from the remaining Coke Plant is St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church (elegant architecture that will be featured in a future blog post). Behind the Church, however, are the remnants of a painted store advertisement:

I don’t know what Perry’s was, or what this building used to be (or why it was modified), but I found it somehow comforting to see the familiar Coca-Cola bottles on it, still. In fact, if you look closely, you can see that there was a sign painted UNDER the current sign.

Taking another angle, and processing it through attempting to bring out as much detail as I could:

The word “CUSTOMER” was in a much larger font behind the current “customer”. The work “PARKING” is visible (the P A before the “Parking” and the G after Only”), and you can make out Perry’S (why the lower case for the “e” is beyond me unless it was there logo). There may have been “while shopping at” behind the current words as there appears to be a ghosted “W” beside the current “While”. I like looking at history this way.


Silver Blue…who knows that everything fades away… but some memories are meant to be captured and held on to.

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27 Jan

In Another Place and Time…

By Silver Blue

Years ago, back when my Grandma (on Mom’s side) was still in this part of the multiverse, I would go back every summer for a visit. For the first 8 or 9 years of my life, the month-long visit was divided between both sets of grandparents (2 weeks with one, 2 weeks with the other). Then, it became visiting one side, and spending most of my time with Grandma.

Grandma lived across the street from two sets of railroad tracks. So, from a very young age, I developed a love of trains. My favourite boxcar was the “Illinois Central Gulf”, which was bright orange, marked with a white “i” in a black circle. (see an example at http://www.flickr.com/photos/prairiestar/2787689454/ )

There was a mainline, and one that crossed the river via a trestle, and which, I believe, made a stop at the local lumber yard.  It was creepy (to me) to walk across the trestle, as it was a long way down if you fell off, and I have a VERY active imagination. Did I mention it was a long way to the bottom (or into the river, depending on where you’d land)?

Sometime in the late 80s, I think, they took the trestle (and rail line it carried) out; however, they left the support stanchions.

Here, you can see how the plants have overtaken what used to be the trestle.

Another stanchion:

I guess it was just easier to remove the railroad ties and rails than it was to attempt to demolish the concrete:

Here, you can still see the spikes from the old ties driven into the concrete.

I’d often wondered how old the trestle really was. Getting around for a few more shots gave me a glimpse of something:

There appeared to be… dates embossed in the stanchion!

Zooming in a bit closer:

Indeed! It clearly shows 1928. The other side either said 1917 or 1947.  The tree covered it to the point that I could no longer read it. This photo was taken 2 years later, and shows how overgrown it has become:

I don’t know when, or even IF I’ll ever be able to get back to get any further photos before the stanchions are either destroyed by man, or by the ravages of time.

The other line? It’s still in use:

Of course, the “Illinois Central Gulf” boxcars are no more, but the memories I have live on… in that other place and time.


Silver Blue, who sometimes, when I hear that lonesome whistle blow, yearn for the past, when trains still had cabooses.

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01 Aug

Can’t you see I’m falling apart?

By Silver Blue

…armed with love, I could save my heart, but on my own I just can’t make it, I’m too weak to fight, so take it…*

Some shots taken in the backwoods of North Carolina in February 2007. The heart and soul is still in this buildings, but they slowly die…

For whom does the bell toll? No one, it would seem.

A former filling station/convenience store, perhaps.

Another shot. Someone’s trying to keep it from falling apart, it would seem.

I knew the housing market had crashed, but this is a bit extreme. But these places sit…and slowly fade away.

I loved this shot, for it’s simplicity and…

…because the curtains in the upstairs windows that remain are billowing out of the broken glass. I wonder what memories were made here, that have been lost to the ravages of time.

Silver Blue… who realizes that people are very much like these photos… sometimes, they can be just an empty shells of their former glory.

(* Blue, Wham!)

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13 Jul

Left broken, empty, in despair…

By Silver Blue

…wanna breathe, can’t find air…*

History is slowly fading from view across America. Businesses are going under, and their buildings, instead of being repurposed, are being torn down.

Growing up, my summer was spent in my grandmother’s town of Kenton, Ohio.

One of the stores was an F. W. Woolworth’s, that went under long before the actual demise of the chain.

For years, it sat, like this:

Windows boarded up, or painted over. What would it have looked like had it still been open?

This was a primitive attempt, in April 2000, to recapture the look. I could do better these days, but hey, I was in my learning phase then.

What did it look like inside? How badly had the building deteriorated?

Gee. Thanks. I can see a heck of a lot. How about some fill light?

Grainy, but better. Sad. Is that … water on the inside of the building?

Alas, indeed it is. Anything of value had been stripped from the inside (including some things NOT of value, like the floor tile — necessary, for asbestos abatement, of course. But this was spelling the beginning of the end). Even though the building really wasn’t architecturally “significant”, you can bet that it was structurally sound, and quite solid when built, unlike the shell buildings of today.

All that’s left now, however (as of 2008, when I was last in Kenton, for my grandmother’s funeral), is a parking lot:

They say you can’t go back, anymore than you can stop the wind from blowing – you can’t change the changes going on…they say you can’t go back and you can’t stop the door from closing…once you’ve gone, you can’t go back home…**


Silver Blue, who misses the way things were.

(* “Left Outside Alone” by Anastacia, ** “You Can’t Go Back Home” by Sylvia)

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11 Jun

It’s the real thing…

By Silver Blue | 2 comments


First off, a note about comments: If you wish to comment (and I welcome them), you have to click on the name of the post, which will open it, and the comment box is at the bottom of the screen.

I like to travel. I love to find old buildings and capture them before the ravages of time cause us to tear them down and “renew”, for the buildings of today have no charm as the buildings of yesteryear did. That’s why when I moved back to Hampton Roads in 1980, I discovered a building that I could not believe. Then, almost overnight, it changed. Abandoned. Sold, repurposed. Altered. Then, that tenant moved out. The building sits, waiting to be destroyed. But, wait! Some of the alterations have come off over time! Quick, to the camera, before it’s gone forever….

Well, you can see SOMETHING has been covered up. But why? Perhaps it was copyrighted? Identifiable with a company or brand?

Why yes! The former Newport News Coca Cola plant, owned by the Brown Family.

Even the other side of the factory has those endcaps covered.

But not the middle! There we go! Precisely what I remember. The stone Coca-Cola bottles. In fact, everything is carved in stone here.

Though, honestly, I don’t know why the windows on this end were closed off. I don’t even know when the plant closed.

You can sort of see the holes that were drilled (look inside the B, between the g and C, and inside the final c on the bottom line) to cover up the identification on the building.

Here, the holes drilled to conceal the logos/ads are far more obvious.

The “holy grail” I was after with the camera. You can see the drill holes where the outer cover (as shown in the first two photos) was attached to conceal. You don’t see stonework like this any more.

Evelyn McCormack Brown, heiress to the local Coca Cola fortune lived in this mansion on Chesapeake Avenue in Hampton until just a few years ago. It had an asking price of about $1.2 million, and I do believe sold for close to that amount. The home is classical in appearance and overlooks the Hampton Roads harbour. (Thanks to the Brown’s Granddaughter for leaving a comment and correcting my faulty memory on Mrs. Brown’s first name!)

Before we close, however, let me show you the only remaining building to the left of the old plant…unique in its own right.

Sure, you see buildings with curves these days, but made out of REAL brick? Most of the facades these days are cast to look like brickwork, but aren’t. This is the real thing. Not sure how much longer IT will be standing, either. (The photos were shot in 2007, and I’ve not been back down there since, so that all may have been torn down already.)

Silver Blue, who is really more of a Dr. Pepper kind of guy.

(N.B.: As of early 2013, when I returned by the old plant, it’s still standing, but the covers on the endcaps (where the bottles were hidden) have finally come off, exposing all the bottles. Maybe I will be able to return to capture the entire building uncovered…. (Updated 3/23/13))

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Days of Silver Blue

October 2020

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