Arkansas January 09, 2018
Check Out This Once-In-A-Lifetime Abandoned Tour For An Unforgettable Arkansas Adventure
If you’re a dedicated reader to our articles, you more than likely have read our abandoned building pieces such as the
bone-chilling ice factory, hauntingly beautiful theatre, hidden hospital, or still-standing sanatorium. If you’ve wondered where we find such astounding photos or who is behind the camera, then today is day you’ll find out.
All of the photos we use for any article always have a little citation underneath them that links to the original source. With how adept we all have come with scrolling through stories (I’m just as guilty), it’s an easy thing to miss. However, today we’re diving into that little citation and meeting the group behind most of our abandoned features, AbandonedAR. We tagged along on their latest adventure and it was truly fascinating.
***Please Note: Never go into an abandoned building without proper permissions.
This massive place is the Human Development Center in Alexander. It's the main building on a large campus with a ton of other forgotten facilities.
The history of the Center is pretty fascinating. Before becoming part of Arkansas Department of Human Services for individuals with developmental disabilities, the building originally opened in the 1930s as the McRae Memorial Tuberculosis Sanatorium for Negroes. The initial construction began as a solution to the overcrowding of the Sanatorium in Booneville while also during the midst of segregation.
The facilities were similar to those of Booneville's, albeit a bit smaller scale. The campus had a chapel, school, fire station, water supply, the Chambers Building for performing surgeries and that also functioned as a dining and craft hall, and auxiliary nurses’ home building. At its peak, the sanatorium held 411 beds.
In 1968, the campus became the Alexander Human Development Center due to the decline in the TB disease. The Center offered occupational, physical and speech therapies and provided psychological assessment, medical care and rehabilitative services. Unfortunately, the facilities closed in 2011 after failed inspections, loss Medicaid certification, as well as misconduct allegations. The buildings are still standing but are dilapidating rapidly. Which is where AbandonedAR comes into action.
We've finished most of our history lesson for today. Now let's meet the AbandonedAR team.
These cool guys are (left to right) Eddy Sisson, Michael Schwarz, Ginger Beck, and James Kirkendall. Michael was kind enough to reach out to us and invite me to tag along to see the Center. The day was part interview, part exploration, and the most unique bonding experience I've ever been part of.
Michael created AbandonedAR in 2012.
He's always held a fascination with abandoned structures and took his first exploration around an abandoned circus in Oklahoma. He's now documented more than 300, with the
in Hot Springs being his absolute favorite.
Check out that original ceiling.
Micheal pointed out as we were exploring, "We have the rare chances to see the physical layers peeled back to reveal more than just decay. We get little clues about past architecture and what stories these places held."
It's interesting to see the overlap of Development Center and Sanatorium.
For instance, each floor has two sun rooms. The Center used these as community game rooms. When it was the Sanatorium however, these were essential parts of treatment since fresh air and sunlight were routinely prescribed to patients.
The team members add different components but they all share a love of preservation.
Photographer Eddy knows everything there is to know about Dogpatch USA, which hopefully soon we'll be able to expound on the peculiar new renovations. Ginger runs their social media and researches the history of the places. And James is known as "the negotiator," he works with owners and city/state officials to get AbandonedAR into a new location. Each of them have particular points of interests in a building but share the passion for preservation.
It's astounding to see how quickly a building can deteriorate.
I had to keep reminding myself it only closed in 2011. Stepping into the different rooms triggered all sorts of emotions. I was thrilled for the unique opportunity but nervous whenever I heard a creak. (I have a mild fear of buildings collapsing on me.) I was hoping to feel any sort of ghostly presence but only had the somber realizations of what abandonment does to a place. There's no need for spooky spirits when the building itself is a ghost full of memories.
Time is frozen in the rooms with only dust as a reminder of its passage.
Dust and graffiti. The graffiti really snapped me back into the present time. Nearly all of it was too graphic for our site, but you can see some of it on
And then the cops showed up and we were all arrested...
Just kidding! Like I said earlier, AbandonedAR always has permission from the owners before visiting. The police were making just their routine drive-by, but it is what will happen to anyone deciding to take their own personal tour. Trespassing isn't cool.
Please support these guys and the important preservation work they do!
For the full history and more pictures of the Center, you can go to
AbandonedAR’s site. You can also explore the other locations they’ve visited.