Saturday, January 7, 2012
Abandonment Issues: Homestead Inn
On a chilly day in early November, 2011, I spent the first half of my 34th birthday alone, wandering aimlessly around Niagara Falls, searching for abandoned buildings to explore. After several hits and misses, I began the long walk back to my hotel. I was rapping and singing aloud to the random assortment of music blaring through my headphones, as I walked past the seemingly endless arrays of Bed and Breakfasts along the Niagara gorge on River Street.
On the edge of the tourist district, less than a half a kilometer from the Rainbow Bridge to the land of the greed and the home of the slaves, I came upon a Bed & Breakfast that differed from the rest. Grass was growing out of hundreds of cracks in the driveway. The front steps were completely overgrown with dense shrubbery and trees, with leaves of red, yellow and brown still clinging on for dear life. A closer inspection revealed a NO TRESPASSING sign that had fallen and rested between the doors. To me, a sign of this sort is an invitation, confirming that the location is indeed vacant. The sign out front read 'HOMESTEAD INN - ROOMS FOR TOURISTS'. I'm a tourist, I thought to myself.
Out back, a tall wooden fence was already behind me, and I was out of view of any neighbours and passersby. This was after noting that the houses on each side of the Inn also appeared abandoned, but had proved inaccessible. Dirty stagnant rainwater and maple leaves formed a murky pond in the deep end of the pool, and some vines were growing down into it.
I entered into pitch blackness, as boards covered all of the windows on the ground floor. My flashlight illuminated the way and a story immediately began to unfold. A story that likely involved local youth. A story of utter destruction and vandalism. Holes had been smashed in walls, pillars and banisters completely dismantled with brute force. Bedroom and bathroom doors had been torn from hinges and thrown about violently. Toilets, mirrors and glass from a set of stunning double doors were shattered into millions of pieces, and cast iron electrical heaters had been simply knocked over, likely too heavy for young vandals to lift.
Even in this destroyed state, the Homestead Inn proved quite fascinating, especially from an architectural viewpoint. Some of the rooms were still numbered and each one had a different colour scheme. There seemed to be washrooms everywhere, and on the third floor was a second kitchen, and children's play rooms, complete with creepy clown wallpaper trim.
Soon after exiting the Inn, in fact right on the other side of the fence out back, I was approached by a local man that seemed down on his luck, to put it nicely. He asked me for spare change for a phone call. I'm not stupid, I told him. He then said it was for food. I smirked and turned my back to him, and began framing my first rear exterior photo, keeping him in my peripheral view. He added a desperate sounding please, outstretching his arms. I turned back to him and asked politely but firmly why he needed the money, looking him straight in his bloodshot eyes. He didn't say a word, almost like he couldn't bare to muster another lie, knowing that I didn't buy it. I recognized in his face, the guilt that accompanies drug addiction, as it hasn't always been a stranger to my own face, and the faces of my loved ones. I gave him a twenty dollar bill and a cigar, and told him that I appreciated his honesty, even if it did come in the form of silence. I added that I hope he finds the strength to get help.
Within a matter of weeks, I had hit bottom and gotten rigorously honest with myself, and sought out help for my own addictions. As of this moment, sitting here typing this post, I have been sober for 43 days. If jerm IX can do it, anyone can do it. I hope the best for that man, and for anyone else struggling with addiction.
With the closure of the Homestead Inn, there is still no lack of B&Bs in Niagara Falls for young lovers, newlyweds and married couples alike to spend a romantic getaway. So after visiting the Homestead Inn for yourself, if you so chose, you could stay at any of the following Bed & Breakfasts in Niagara Falls.
Abagales Victorian Suites B&B
Victorian Charm B&B
Paradise Point B&B
Park Place B&B
Absolute Elegance B&B
Little Paradise B&B
Two Rivers B&B
Gretna Green Tourist Home
Keefer Mansion Inn
Ambiance By The Falls B&B
Blue Gables B&B
Mcgrail Guesthouse B&B
Blue Gables B&B
Niagara's Emerald Falls B&B
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES