Before The Coffee » Photography

Forest Haven

I love to photograph the creepy, scary, old, worn-out, and decayed. The appeal is something that artists understand. You can have more fun shooting in these places and I did with several other photographers at Forest Haven and Henryton. Why the craving for this dark art? Of course the scene is not something typically seen as beautiful, not in the way you’d see a rose garden, but it is beautiful in it’s decay. Peeling paint, rust, and broken glass always catch my interest but what captivates me most is how things change after man departs. A place where man once worked, thrived, lived and died. It was at one time brand new, and cared for. Now it’s discarded, man has moved on, done, gone, with no further interest. Enjoy the images from my walk through these buildings.

Forest Haven is a govt. facility that housed the mentally retarded from 1925 to 1991. It closed due to numerous law suites against operators of the facility that describe patient abuse, poor conditions, and even a psychiatrist that continued to bill for deceased patients.

Home Run vs. Home Bound

Home Run vs. Home Bound – October 9, 1959 the NEW YORK HERALD reports the Dodges win the world series.


The Chair It’s trashed and vandalized but in a strange way there’s beauty among the decay. Peeling paint is a visual wonder-world of textures, lines and curves. Debris covers the floor in most rooms, often medical documents detail a history of sadness.


The Steps The decay continues, if it’s not peeling paint then the wall rock is spilling onto the floor. This is the only way to the upper levels in the hospital.


X-Ray A fire has burned part of the x-ray table but the film tray and x-ray head are still intact. Just behind me is the booth that the technician stands in as the patient gets a dose radiation.

The Desk

The Desk The end room had an office that must have been for the doctor on duty. In the debris laid a bible open that I carefully placed on the cracked and curled desk surface.

The Bed

The bed A history of darkness and despair reside within these walls but through the windows life flourishes, skies are blue, flowers bloom and birds sing. Such a contrast.

  • ellery - July 5, 2009 - 8:47 am

    This is a terrific set of images. Feels like I was there.
    Wait a minute…I WAS there!ReplyCancel

  • Bob Towery - July 7, 2009 - 11:45 am

    Is it okay if I say these pictures are INSANELY GREAT? Wow. All fantastic, but the one that stands out for me is the chair shot. That wall is just unbelievable. I would love to find a setting like this!

    Bob, Thank you, btw your friday funnies post is hysterical. Any photographer will get a good laugh from this:

  • Joe - February 1, 2010 - 5:57 pm

    Wow, these are amazing. I have seen some shots from there previously, taken without permission and complete with tales of running from guard patrols. I think it would be awesome to rather ask and then be able to shoot at leisure with permission. Just curious which path did you follow?

    Hi Joe, I don’t think it’s possible to get permission to take pictures there. A new juvenile facility has opened nearby and I think there is heightened awareness. I tried to make a follow up visit and was turned away at the guard gate.ReplyCancel

  • K.L - September 11, 2010 - 7:21 pm


    I love your pictures! I am in a band called A Match for the Curious and I was wondering if I would be able to use some of your photos? I would credit you of course and if you wanted even a banner on our site.
    Let me know if this is okay. But if you could respond to my other email account at [email protected]. Thanks!!

    That would be fine, just credit the image. FerrellReplyCancel

  • A World Of Patterns « Fossil Blog - February 23, 2011 - 4:13 pm

    […] peeling paint on a wall, seen here […]ReplyCancel

  • Richard Michael - September 25, 2011 - 9:09 am

    STUNNING WORK!!!! Reminds me of P.r. Brown in some ways…. I too was wondering if I could use a pic with permission/credit for an EP I am working on…. Brilliant photos!ReplyCancel

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