guest post by geoff: the sylvan apartments

(These pictures were taken a few days after the ones below were taken)

I am happy to announce that today's post is written by my other half, Geoff. He recently took some beautiful pictures of the seriously spooky building that is located across the street from where we live. We live in a city where the buildings are never more than a century old, and any vacant building is a fascinating mystery for us. We are so curious about these places!

I would love to learn more about this vacant, L-shaped, dilapidated townhouse-style apartment building across from us. The 'Sylvan Apartments' were built in 1910, and expanded in 1927. We've heard some rumours from neighbours that a developer currently owns the property and would like to tear it down to build condos, so perhaps the fact that it's a registered heritage property is the only thing saving the place from destruction so far. None of the windows seem to be broken, and many of the blinds and curtains on the upper level are still in place. The main floor doors and windows are all covered with plywood, some with painted, stenciled graffiti.

With my dad's 1970s Pentax SLR camera, I took some photographs recently while on a walk with Anabela. We ignored some 'No Trespassing' signs to explore the back of the building. A tiny driveway and tiny garages are the first thing you notice, and around the corner are at least a dozen different rose bushes, scattered around the back yard and up close against the building. It's a beautiful contrast to the crumbling roof and drooping wood porches.

While I was photographing some roses, Anabela wandered over to the corner of the 'L' and moments later came running over to me, shouting with fear and excitement. I knew from the change in bricks on the street side that the building was constructed in two stages but I wasn't expecting the strange view on the other side. It's as though the builders forgot about the back when they added on to the building, resulting in a light-shaft closed in on three sides by bay windows, with a very narrow space in between. There are steps down to a door that leads into the basement of the building. Stepping on broken glass, Anabela shifted the plywood boards to reveal cobwebs and a deep darkness. I took a few more photos before we returned home, feeling a little freaked out but also wondering what it would be like to go through that doorway.

I'm glad we haven't tried to go inside, though. A few nights ago Anabela was standing on our tiny Juliet balcony when she saw a racoon emerge from one of the abandoned building's chimneys, hang out for a bit, then disappear back inside a few moments later. I may be curious about the inside of this place but not curious enough to deal with angry wildlife!


  1. oh how curious!
    i love the beautiful shots!

  2. Beautiful photographs! I kindof hope they leave it completely alone, since odds are they'll find a way to wreck it, even if they think they're preserving it!

  3. the last shot, and the third last shot (with the balconies) are my favourite :)

    I am such a scardy-cat, I actually obey the "no trespassing" signs! I admire you two for not following the rules!

  4. Wow, what a fantastic find. I really love that photo with the roses and the contrast between the red life and the old building is great.

    Also, there is a little award waiting for you two over at my blog!

  5. lovely photos Geoff! you guys should move in there and make it your own Grey Gardens, raccoons and all. I'd visit you, I swear!

  6. WOW! What an adventure!!!

  7. the pictures and you guys are so adorable and you make me swoon. :)
    i would have loved to go through that doorway!

  8. Beautiful photos, Geoff!!

    I used to pass that building a lot and there were people living there up until two or three years ago. I noticed them boarding up the windows but, curiously, it seemed like a couple apartments were still occupied for a while after the rest were vacated; lamps would be on at night and curtains would be drawn and then opened. I always thought it would be really spooky to live in a building that's been abandoned by everyone but you. Thinking about the rooms on the other side of your wall...
    Sorry I don't have any actual information for you! I agree, though. It's pretty intriguing

  9. Thanks so much for all the sweet comments everyone! I'm so pleased you enjoyed my little photo essay.

    While checking the mail this afternoon I ran into our downstairs neighbour and she told me about the last person who lived in the building when the rest of it was empty. Apparently it was an older woman with a spectacular garden and when she left, all the neighbours on the street descended on the garden and took flowers, plants, even a small tree! I wonder if the roses in the back were planted by the same person.


  10. Hi Geoff! That last photo is spooktacular! I think if I were in that situation I'd grab a load of friends, pad myself with pillows and then arm myself with a load of sporting equipment and go explore ^_^

  11. oh wow. i am always so curious about that building too! i love the photo of the moss covered chimney-- how beautiful!

  12. Amazing! These photos are really something. The Sylvan Apartments seem like the perfect mystery neighbor!

  13. What a fantastic bunch of photos. I love spooky abandoned buildings. There are a few here in Taipei (many from when it was a Japanese colony before WWII) and you've inspired me to take photos of them.

  14. oh my! what a fascinating adventure!! i'm so glad you ignored the no trespassing signs! i get the urge to scramble over gates and under chains about 5 times a day in my city...look at the wonders you find! hurrah!

  15. I love abandoned buildings. But as a child, I didn't have anyone who would have accompanied me and I never dared to go in there alone for fear of meeting some modern-day version of the Big Bad Wolf... and now that I'm grown-up, I'm afraid that I might crash through the rotten floorboards...


  16. Adrienne Trent24.11.11

    My family has lived in the same house on Havelock for the past 112 years. My grandma told me that those apartments were built on top of the local garbage dump....I don't want them to be torn down either, but if they are, I think an archeological dig could be conducted there!