Precious Memories from the Owens Homestead
Written by Alex Rogers, Producer
This series isn't just about exploring interesting abandoned spaces, it's about finding items. Now, for the most part, the items are important because they have value either as rare artifacts or highly-sought collectibles. But sometimes you stumble across items that only have value and tell stories to particular people— they're just personal objects. What's amazing is when you can actually pair these personal items with the people who know everything about them. I was lucky enough to be able to do that when we were exploring an old pioneer homestead in rural Mississippi.
The building was a full of old memories. The family that occupied the property for so many years never threw anything out, leaving more that 80 years of personal items inside the main cottage. It was an incredible amount of stuff packed into a small space and it seemed like we could easily spend a week going through every layer and find something new and strange every day. Every item we found told us something more about a member of that family.
Much of the material we could make sense of or had some intrinsic value: An old record player, WW2 medals and memorabilia, etc. However, among a stack of extremely old books I found one that I couldn't make any sense of at all. It was an old photograph album. Only, there weren't any people at all in this album. Every single photo was a building. Huge buildings, small buildings, casinos, hotels and apartments... the album ran the gamut of options and the photos were very old. Many of them also seemed to show buildings that were in different countries. What the heck was this about?
I had very little time to contemplate the discovery. There was more work to do, so I just put the album carefully aside and got back to work. At some point during filming Dan uncovered the album. He also noticed it was a strange thing to find in a rural cottage. To Dan, the photos looked like they were taken in South America or Europe. The photos likely had no monetary value, but there had to be a reason... they had to mean something.
Later, as the shoot finished, I remembered the album while making sure we hadn't left any equipment inside the building. I brought the album to Alfredo, the owner of the building, who hadn't spent much time there since he was a young child. I knew it was a long shot, but maybe he knew what to make of the strange photo collection. As it turned out, not only did he know about these photos, but this was the one album he had been searching throughout the cottage to find.
As it turned out, these photos were of all the buildings his Italian father had constructed all over the world. These may have been the only photos left of several of these buildings, which amounted to the man's great legacy as an architect. I was glad to have an answer to what these pictures were about, but I could see being reunited with this object meant the world to Alfredo. It may not have had value on the market, but for Alfredo it was a link to his deceased father. They're a collection of photos from around the world but they ended up hidden in a small cabin in the Deep South.
I count that item among the coolest treasures we've found on our trips. I'd still like to find pirate treasure though. That would definitely be cooler.