East St. Louis Doorway

The brick pattern in this building fascinated me on a recent photo shoot in East St. Louis, Ill. It looked like it was starting to come down and someone tried to repair it, but without much success. On the other side of the building, a man was doing some repairs. He said he had sunk most of his retirement fund into rehabilitating the building, with the hopes of turning it into a barbecue restaurant. He took us inside and showed us the work he'd done, and it was surprisingly excellent. He was describing the menu he intended to offer and I got hungry. 

East St. Louis Theater

I found this theater during a 2019 photo shoot in East St. Louis, Ill. It looked as though businesses had at least attempted to use the lower level in the recent past, and everything at ground level was covered in graffiti. But the upper level had fascinating scrollwork and artistic design. I know little about architecture, but I know that that building has stories to tell. 

East St. Louis Life Window

Along the side of a boarded-up building, the neighborhood kids (or adults) had been taking potshots at the glass-cube windows. Some of them were busted out completely, and as you see, they became home to wildlife. Look to the bottom left for the start of a honeycomb, and the upper right two cubes hold birds' nests. Life finds a way.

East St. Louis Faces

These faces were carved into the ornate architectural detail of an old theater in East St. Louis, Ill. I found so many amazing images in a city that many have dismissed as hopeless, with such a rich history of arts and culture. For a full detail of my shoot in East St. Louis, click here.

Sauer Castle

Every city has a "haunted" house, and the Sauer Castle belongs to Kansas City. There's a full travelogue on my visit to Sauer Castle on patreon.com/edonald, along with the lore I gleaned from the internet and from the old man who spoke to me at the gate. Or did he?

Alton Prison Wall

This is the last remaining wall of the infamous military prison in Alton, Ill. Originally shut down before the Civil War due to its poor condition, the prison was reopened to house prisoners of war. Thousands died within its walls, especially during an outbreak of yellow fever. At one point the city required all those dying within the prison to be buried in an island in the Mississippi River to avoid sickening the whole town.

The prison was closed after the war, and most of its stones were taken to form the foundations of houses throughout Alton. Only this one wall remains, moved from its original location, as a monument to the Alton prison. 

Pigeon of New York

This charming fellow was my shadow on my whirlwind one-day tour of New York City during the Furlough Tour of 2013. At least, I assume it was the same one that showed up everywhere I went, right? I told my wonderful hosts that I wanted to see the whole city in one day, and they did the best they could. The view from the top of the Empire State Building is something you must see in person to experience; photography fails to truly capture its impact. My friend the pigeon understands this. 

Chained Doors

This half-demolished building stands in downtown East St. Louis, a town on the Illinois side of the river from St. Louis. The building was gone except for that wall, but the chains remained on the doors - and someone has written LOVE on the remaining glass. I've recently become fascinated with visuals of urban decay and dilapidated buildings, of the mute history they contain and the effect of years.​​​​​​​

Hillside Motel

This abandoned roadside inn outside Kansas City caught my eye for reasons I simply couldn't fathom. It was closed but not unoccupied; it was clear squatters had been using it, and someone was trying to clean it out, with piles of personal belongings left out in the rain.

Silent Cell

This cell has been preserved in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Mo. The prison operated from 1836 to 2004 under a variety of conditions. It is now preserved as a historic site, and the daytime tour covers a large amount of history ranging from famous inmates like James Earl Ray and "Pretty Boy" Floyd to the number of death row inmates executed in its gas chambers. I understand the nighttime tour focuses on the number of ghosts that allegedly haunt the prison.

* This photograph was selected for publication in the spring 2019 issue of River Bluff Review.

Burned Barn

This burned-out barn watches over an autumn field after the corn has turned to dry husks. I found this on my way to a lively pumpkin patch full of green stalks and ripe gourds and happy children, and found it a stark contrast to the rest of the fall festivities.

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