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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bleak House: 1939

Bleak House: 1939

Greene County, Georgia, circa 1939. "Ruined house, Penfield vicinity." 8x10 inch acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Re: When it was new

My sentiments exactly, Vintagemxr. In my case I can see one, or several, men of the household, taking leave of their family to serve in the Confederate army, then several years later (if our fictional Johnny Reb survived the war), returning to this scene of desolation and disrepair. Especially if Sherman and his guys had passed anywhere close by.

This May be The Penfield Female Academy

It's hard to be certain, but this appears to be the same building.

Tell me that does not look like the portico on the right of the Shorpy building.

If so, then the building, improbably, lived on into the 1970s at least. (I did not see it anywhere on google streetview, though I can't believe the building would be restored somewhat, then demolished.) Google also reveals that Mercer University unloaded the building on the then rapidly declining village of Penfield in 1874 -- the results of which are, alas, evident here.


This looks almost identical to the mansion in the ghost town called Tumbleweed in the video game "Red Dead Redemption." (I looked really hard for a picture, I promise. Apparently I lack the googling skills.)

Yoknapatawpha redux

And another view of the Snopes ancestral homeplace.


Although it's sad to see the state of this once beautiful house, it's also wonderful to know that the place was photographed so well before it disappeared completely. What a love this photographer had for her subjects.

Somebody loved this home

Notice that the shutters are closed on every window but one, and somebody has propped up the back porch with cross boards. Maybe a son with little money but a land title, 50 years before this picture was taken?

Creepy but fascinating

Creepy but fascinating. Wish we knew more about this -- when was it built, why was it abandoned and how long did it last after this photo was taken? It looks like one good kick and the whole thing would collapse. And one spark would turn that rotten wood into an inferno.

Another example of "Life After People"

And I love that it has so many windows.

Picturesque Decay

This photo has the look of an oil painting in which the artist has taken liberties with reality to create a mood. Can a camera do that?

I wonder

Was it ever new?

When it was new

When I see on Shorpy these sorts of photos of once grand homes, I alway imagine the scene when the homes were new. The pleased architect is shaking hands with the proud new home owner, the carpenters and other tradesmen are packing up the last of their tools and look with satisfaction on the results of their craftsmanship. How sad they would be to see how it all turned out a few decades later.


I wouldn't fancy going in there, something almost Hopperesque about it.


This is fabulous, almost looks like HDR photography.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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