There is something about history battered by age. It appeals to me more than shiny classic cars and restorate structures of times past. Broken tile, peeling paint, old letters, rusted metal… To me, history isn’t supposed to be prestine. It involves wrinkles and scars. It stands against time and says, “I might be battered but damnit I’m still here.”
I had a chance to document one such place in the form of the 2nd and 3rd floors of Oatland Island Wildlife Center’s main building. Next week (June 15th, 2009) these floors will be renovated into offices and classrooms.
The main building was built in the 20’s as a retirement home for railroad conductors. From there it became a hospital, a laboratory for the CDC and finally purchased by the school system. The structure, for now, has each phase of it’s history on display.
Heather Merbs, one of Oatland’s teachers and host of the “Walk on the Wild Side” show, gave me a tour of the top two floors. I then was allowed to wander the halls to take pictures and sweat. Did I mention it was hot? Below are the photos and I hope you enjoy.
Stairs to the 3rd floor
The 3rd floor was the storehouse for all glassware and office supplies during the laboratory era. Scientists would take the elevator up and check out what they needed.
The 2nd floor. Here I find offices, labs, classrooms, bedrooms and medical facilities.
The metal room. The walls are metal from the laboratory era. Heather wasn’t sure about the experiments performed here. She calls it their “Lost” room because of the metal and army loud speaker.
The “Chemosterilant Studies” room. The large machine in the last few photos was used to sterilize equipment.
I had a great time walking around, taking photos, and exploring this space. The renovations will update these curious rooms making them functional spaces and that is good thing. I’m just a sucker for dust.