Lost, not forgotten

Photographer documents abandoned facilities frame by frame

By Carrie J Sidener

The halls of the old Davis Hospital are now empty. The windows of the maternity ward are shattered; moss grows on the carpets where the roof leaks.
The old hospital and other abandoned places are where Justin Lynn likes to be. He photographs these relics, documenting them at a point in their history that few care to see.
Lynn is what is known as an urban explorer. he posts his photographs and the histories he has discovered on his web site.
"Abandoned NC is a site dedicated to the places that the general population doesn't notice, doesn't see, and doesn't care for," Lynn writes on the site. "Anything that lies on the outskirts of everyday experience is fair game."
Lynn started the site to provide a place to share and archive his photos and do historical research.
"My only desire is to document and experience them first-hand, leaving them as they are for anyone who may wish to do so in the future," he said.
Lynn adheres to the motto of "take only pictures; leave only footprints."
He has explored the depths of the old Davis Hospital and documented some of it's history on his website, which also links to an article about Dr. Richard Boyd, a prominent obstetrician who delivered the young photographer.
Lynn also includes postcards and even a critique of the B horror movie which was filmed in the depths of the old hospital.
Lynn said so many people's lives began, ended in, or were somehow connected with the old hospital "and it's just falling apart," he said.
He has explored places such as an abandoned trailer park, the Fourth Creek Burial Grounds, parts of the Vance Hotel, Wayside Elementary School, and houses in China Grove and Fairview.
"It's hard to explain," Lynn said "It gets your adrenaline going. You don't know what you are going to find in any given place."
Thus far he has confined his explorations to Iredell, Rowan, Wilkes, and Alexander county.
The old Davis Hospital is the largest place Lynn has explored. IN it he found a script from the horror movie filmed there.
But the most surprising discovery was one of his grandmother's old eye charts.
"There are a lot of groups that like to explore insane asylums because they are so huge," Lynn said "But I like the small country places. it's more than the building it's self, it's the history of the building."
He's found letters, photographs, notebooks, and other things he thought people wouldn't want to leave behind.
The first abandoned house he explored was one that had a connection to his family.
Lynn was driving through China grove with his great grandmother when she pointed into the woods and said she used to live in a house back there.
He grabbed a disposable camera and went into the woods. All he found were the foundation, chimneys, and outbuildings.
Lynn doesn't know what draws him to such places. he said he is curious by nature and has always had an interest in photography.
And he hates when people vandalize buildings he considers ignored treasures.
"I don't want people to find these places and go in there to have a party and spraypaint things," Lynn Said.
"That gets on my nerves."

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