After missing another weekend due to Winter Storm Riley knocking out my power and coincidentally needing to renew my car inspection, my friend and I return to the North campus to explore the [REDACTED] building.
This exploration occurred on March 10th, 2018. 01: Parking Area (Left)
Unlike the other buildings closer to the road, nobody has paid any attention to the state of overgrowth experienced by the [REDACTED] building. The left side here has larger windows because the rooms there appear to be double suites. 02: Parking Area (Middle)
They're camouflaged by the shadows, but there are a number of wooden drawers and other bits of broken furniture strewn around the edges of the pavement. 03: Parking Area (Right)
The right side building here has single suites, hence the smaller windows. 04: Rotten in All Respects
A sign nailed up so long ago that not only are the letters peeling off, but its rubber composition is badly rotted all around. 05: Entrance Hall
Entering the building put us in the main entrance hall. Nine-by-nine asbestos tiles littered the floor in fragments, jet-age light fixtures adorn the ceiling, and colossal windows that aren't made of safety glass lay in broken piles around their frames. The giant windows and the double doors once looked out upon the back road and the pond. 06: A Kitchen to Kill For (Left)
Poking around a bit got us into a beautiful General Electric prefab kitchen. Besides one shelf and the bottom panel of the far-right top cabinet having been ripped out and the sink spout having been chopped off, the entire setup was intact. The stainless-steel oven still opened and closed properly and most of the cabinets still had both hinges intact and opened and closed seamlessly. The glass light fixture is the original one installed when the place was built in 1959 and it's made entirely of textured glass, however the fluorescent bulb bracket inside was destroyed. I attribute the kitchen's good condition to the window having been securely boarded over and its entrance being fairly inconspicuous.
Quite simply a gorgeous kitchen. 07: A Kitchen to Kill For (Right)
The main problem I can see with prefab kitchens like this is that once scratched, the metal cabinetry becomes vulnerable to rust as the cabinets here clearly exhibit. And if the doors are dented or bent, straightening them is almost impossible. The tolerances on these are much tighter than on modern el-cheapo cabinets. The large circular hole in the ceiling used to have a vent to extract the stove fumes. 08: Multifunction
This set of knobs sets the oven's clock and much, much more. Instead of setting a plain timer to cook for a specified duration, the user can specify at exactly what time the oven should begin heating itself and what time it should stop. Need to put an Easter roast in at 6AM but don't want to get up at 5AM to preheat the oven? Just set the Start Time to 5AM the night before! And if you underestimated how long it needs to cook for, just spin the Stop Time forward a few minutes!
Why don't ovens have this anymore?! 09: Staggered Burners
The stove over to the right features two larger electric burners and two small ones. Simple push buttons control the five heat settings each burner gets on the stainless steel control panel installed in the cabinet right below it. The coils are easily removed for cleaning. 10: Burner Control
The control panel itself is a gorgeous jet-age assembly of buttons. The buttons are easy to press and out of the way - no more fiddling with a gas stove's sparker to get it to light and possibly blowing up your house. The settings are as follows: "HI" for maximum heat, "2" for quite hot, "3" for middle of the road, "LO" for lower temperature cooking, and "WM" for warming; keep sauces and gravy hot without burning them. Finally, there's the OFF button for when the meal is ready for serving. 11: Model 61 Speed Control
The (long lost) extractor fan in the ceiling has three speed settings in addition to Off. LOW for mild ventilation, MED for regular cooking, and HIGH for when your experiment doesn't quite go right. 12: Double Suite (Left)
Moving deeper into the building, we wandered into one of the double suites. At least, what we believe were double suites. More on that black thing on the wall in a minute. 13: Double Suite (Middle)
A gigantic wall of built-in closets and shelves splits the room in two. It's not an ideal setup for the occupants. 14: Double Suite (Right)
The resident closer to the door has the most pitiful fold-out desk I've ever seen and some awfully shallow cupboards beneath it. On the reverse sid off the desk are cabinets and drawers for the second resident. 15: A Bat!
The black thing on the wall is actually a tiny bat sleeping on the wall! Evidently it found the rooms in this building dark and cave-like enough to call it home. 16: Telephoto Bat!
Breaking out the antiquated telephoto lens and my lens adapter, I was able to avoid bothering the bat while also zooming way in on it. After shooting the photo, my friend poked it and determined it was in fact alive and apparently a very heavy sleeper. 17: Double Suite Side 2 (Left)
Walking around the wall of cabinets got us into what we believe is the second resident's area. 18: Double Suite Side 2 (Middle)
The bed on this side had an overhead lamp but no desk. It's also the side with the heater. So one person froze while the other person melted. 19: Double Suite Side 2 (Right)
This side also had the only window. The heater here was destroyed by scrappers hunting for copper. The entire radiator core was stolen, just like in every other room. 20: Exit
Stepping back out of the room (and making sure the door was propped open so the bat could leave) put us back in the hallway that the stairs in the "Entrance Hall" photograph lead to. 21: The Dirt Room (Left)
Wandering around a bit put us in a room full of dirt that they apparently just never bothered to finish digging out. 22: The Dirt Room (Middle)
It's not a small room and these are not small rocks! 23: The Dirt Room (Right)
The door with no glass would put us back in the main residential area. 24: MECHANICAL ROOM
A bit fancier sounding than "Dirt Room", but serves the same purpose. There was a gigantic dead spider behind this door. 25: Going Up
Having seen enough of this floor, we climbed on up to the second floor. Someone jacked the railings at some point but besides that the stairs are still solid.
There's a video on YouTube somewhere of three or four troglodytes smashing some of the glass blocks in a similar staircase in this building. 26: Glassy Smile
Sprayed on one of the block glass panes in the previous photo. 27: Slipspace
Another jet-age light fixture. I've encountered light fixtures like this one that rust into this delightful coppery color. There was another bombed-out religious building most folks here will know that had some lights that rusted like this too, and I've always liked the effect since seeing them there. 28: Double Suites Hall
Reaching the top of the stairs put me at an intersection. Turning right at the top of the stairs put me at the start of this long hallway flanked by more double suite residences. However turning left instead, which is a full 180* from this photo, took me someplace better. 29: Impression
Turning around from the previous photo put me in this huge common room, with its giant windows overlooking the rear road and the pond behind the building. We are directly above the earlier "Entrance Hall" photo now. It was a welcome change from wandering through the borderline claustrophobic residence halls for two hours. 30: Spotlit Lights
This common area has these big square lights mounted in the ceiling tiles. I could be wrong but I believe there's a bulb mounted behind the opaque white semisphere, which reflects the bulb's light out against the white backing of the square, which reflects it again and out into the room. 31: [REDACTED] (Middle)
These large windows overlook the asphalt back road area behind the building, a small overgrown area, and (behind the winter trees) the pond. What I believe are the original lamp-posts from when the building was first built still stand. The foundation of the one at the left here has come loose and so it's tilted backwards at a 60* or so angle. 32: The Scars of Time
This little chain has been swaying in the breeze for so long that it's worn its path into the window frame. 33: Empty Space
A huge row of heaters used to run beneath the windows, and another smaller two sat beneath the small windows near the far doors (one off the left side of this photo). My exploring backpack is visible here because I forgot to move it. The gigantic windows were not made of safety glass so once broken, they shattered into huge, dangerous shards of glass. 34: Trashed Hallway
Going down the hallway past the door at the far end of the photo get me into this absolutely trashed hallway. It reminds me of our entryway into the (now demolished) P&A Mill, or one of the back buildings in Sportscar (very much under renovation but still codenamed for now). 35: Squared Shot
Unlike the previous staircase, this one had a narrow strip of block glass windows. 36: A Second Kitchen to Kill For (Left)
The second floor also featured a vintage prefab kitchen. This one differed in that the oven was on the floor instead of sitting on top of a set of cabinets. It was also a lovely shade of blue. Unfortunately, as seen here, the stove's control panel was ripped out of the console. 35: A Second Kitchen to Kill For (Right)
However this kitchen did still have its extractor fan! 36: Stove Schematic
The control panel being ripped out did reveal its circuit diagram. We tried to figure out how GE managed to get five heat settings using only three electrical outputs from the switches, but decided to photograph the schematic and ponder it later. 37: Men's Washroom
Wandering around a bit more got me into the second floor men's washroom. It was an interesting shade of blue-green. 38: Surpassing Expectations
I walked in here initially thinking that was their fancy name for a bathroom, but lo and behold there were actually shower stalls hidden around the corner! Someone stole the heater cores here too. 39: Double Bypass
Ignore the sad sinks here and focus on the pipe rising up between them. At some point, something went so horribly wrong with the drain plumbing for these sinks that the maintenance folks here had to cut out the old pipes, seal the holes in the wall, and run an entirely new pipe. The part rising up in the middle is a vent allowing air or gas or something to vent or enter the pipe. I forget which. 40: Single Suite (Left)
The single suites were actually pretty impressive, if judged by the standards of a dorm building. For a hospital employee residence, not so much. The single suite here gets a small sink for washing up and a neat little hidden soap holder. The light above the counter there, when attached to the wall properly, lit up this counter area. My tripod, visible in the mirror, is standing where a twin-sized bed (and nothing larger) could fit. 41: Single Suite (Middle)
The single suite also gets an absurd amount of cabinet and closet space. The cabinetry is painted "help me I'm stuck in this prison" black 42: Single Suite (Right)
The heater here has been stolen and its covering panel ruined, but the blinds covering the intact window are actually still worked. Pulling the ropes let me close them for this shot, otherwise the window would be a rectangle of blinding white that ruined the photo. To the left of the heater is a cramped little desk space. Strewn across the floor there is an outdoor coaxial cable. Not sure what it's down down in this room, but all of these suites were equipped with cable television.
One of these suites had a "One day at a time" sticker on its mirror, a bunch of banana company stickers stuck to the desk, and a hole in the window patched with scotch tape. My friend summed up the guy's situation as "poor guy, he's stuck sitting in here eating bananas and trying to keep the window patched so he didn't freeze to death." I described the rooms as "seeing how small a space they could squish a human into without them going insane". And if they did, well, they're already at the hospital! 43: Roof (Left)
After wandering through more of the single suites and seeing their wide range of conditions, my friend found a way out onto the roof of the building with the double suites. Surprisingly enough, the roof was in fantastic condition despite being flat and having no drainage. 44: Roof (Right)
My friend splashes around at the far end. I suggested that, once the roof freezes again, we could host a game of death hockey. 45: Roof 2
This is the roof of one of the two wings with single suites. The roof drains here don't work because the roof sagged a little bit everywhere except where the drains are because the pipes are supporting it. 46: A Thing
My friend and I had trouble figuring out what this thing did, but we think it's for letting air enter the small pipe at the base of the sphere while water falling in the top drains out that way. We're probably wrong because there are way better ways to achieve that but it's the best we could come up with. 47: Over the Top
Looking over the edge of the roof at the side of the double suite wing. 48: Dark Halls
Content with the roof we headed for the one place we hadn't seen yet - the basement. Down here we found two more Dirt Rooms, one of which had a concrete path running beneath pipes that ran from one single suite wing to the other. However, we discovered that someone bricked up the door to the tunnel at one side for some unfathomable reason. 49: Another Bat!
While wandering around we saw another two bats down here. 50: Cafeteria
What a depressing eatery - it's mostly underground so the only natural light that comes in is through the small windows near the ceiling. And it's painted "zero-effort white", which I'm sure didn't help employee moral. 51: Competitor Kitchen
This cafeteria has a different set of kitchen equipment than the other three General Electric kitchens. The big white combo unit there is an oven on the left, a stove on top, and a fridge on the right. yes, you read that correctly, the fridge is built into the oven
. Oh, and the oven melted its own knobs, that's why they're heart shaped. Because they're melted.
I think GE won this one. 52: Exit 2
Having spent roughly five hours wandering around [REDACTED], we decided that it was time to head out. The sky was now black with almost no moonlight, and we still had about a mile walk back to our cars. Epilogue
Once we were back out in the chilly night air, we headed back to the cars and got Chinese food. Demolition continues on the South campus.