The extension of highway 407 from Pickering to highway 115/35 is expected to be complete in the year 2020. Hundreds of homeowners have already had their lands scooped up, and more and more of these homes are becoming vacant with every passing week. Some of them are historic heritage homes, and some of them have been family owned and operated farms for generations. The lines have been drawn, and everything that stands in the path of the 407 extension will be demolished.
Dallas and I have been exploring and documenting dozens of these homes in the past few weeks. On this day, along with Spiritwalker, we saw a van pull out of the driveway of one of these homes. Fellow explorers, we pondered? After entering and looking around, we realized that the residents were just in the process of moving out their belongings. That was them in the van. We departed hastily.
Continuing on our journey, driving a grid of the areas to be affected, we encountered and explored a plethora of abandoned houses. Some of which are not worthy of note. But for the ones that are worthy of sharing, thus begins the new 407 series.
A tree swing sways gently in the soft breeze wafting through the backyard of the Beauty, aka the Stockholm Farmhouse. Ducks and geese are gathered along the shores of the small backyard pond. The large barn and outbuildings are remarkably silent. No chickens clucking, no mooing cows. We hope to access the interior of the old white house with it's green trim. Much like the other 407 houses, it is vacant. Or is it?
Once inside, we are shocked by the pristine condition of the home. Beautiful curtains and drapes gracefully adorn the windows. This is a first for me, an abandoned house that appears to have been meticulously cleaned and vacuumed before the inhabitants moved on with their lives. "The living room resembles a funeral parlour" says Dallas. I concur. A barn swallow is sitting on a window ledge in a second floor bedroom. It seems oblivious to my clicking camera, and I continue to get closer and closer. I stand with it for a few minutes, wondering if it died in an upright position. Eventually it begins to fly around the house from room to room, much like we are doing. The irony is instantly recognized, this bird wants to get out more desperately than we wanted to get in. We attempt to open a few windows, but are unsuccessful. With the swallow flying in and out of frame, I continue to snap photos of the second floor. The washrooms, the bedrooms, the hallway, the staircase, all of it is just magnificent. I head back downstairs to finish shooting, and as I do, Spiritwalker catches the swallow, and as we exit, so too does the trapped bird. She releases it and it flies freely up into the branches high above the Stockholm Farmhouse.
An angel gets it's wings
The funeral parlour
The green room
Hallway to hell
See the light
Coming out of the closet
Light it up
Swallow your pride
The Beast is in stark contrast to the Beauty. Unlike the pristine condition of the Stockholm Farmhouse, the Beast has seen better days. Behind large metal gates, the massive house instantly excites me. 1980s construction usually doesn't do much for me, but this house is different. Complete with cold grey brickwork and bleak grey aluminum siding, as well as a three car garage. A long balcony runs the length of the home, with doors from every room in the front of the house on the second floor leading outside to this balcony. Very cool. A giant deck wraps around the back of the house, with a stunning view of the treetops for as far as the eye can see. Another first for me: An indoor pool and sauna.
It isn't until we step inside that the contrast is apparent. Scrappers and vandals have not been kind to the Beast. Walls and plumbing have been stripped, and windows have been smashed. The hardwood floor has been partially removed. An Osama Bin Laden target has been shot at. I've seen this before, this looks like the work of police participating in training exercises, not vandals. Clearly, it is a bit of both. Moving on, we encounter tacky bejeweled walls, another first. Tall archways with faux red brick separate rooms, and a horrendous mural or wallpaper of an island getaway adorns a wall, continuing to make me wonder why anyone would decorate such a gorgeous home in such a cheap and cheesy manner. Upstairs, there are too many bedrooms to count, almost none of them worthy of my camera's shutter clicking for them. That is until I enter the master bedroom. Again, a bejeweled wall, this time in the form of little hearts. Could it get any tackier? Yes, it can. This bejeweled wall of hearts is home to a bathroom and shower, with no doors. There is nothing more romantic than laying in bed in your large master bedroom while your spouse takes a stinky shit inside the heart shaped bejeweled wall.
The Beast is a mishmash of tacky and strange, and appears to have been more of a party house than a family home. I continue to shake my head in disbelief as I round each and every corner. Before we depart, I return to the master bedroom and snap the customary self portrait in the mirrors. On to the next one, stay tuned.
Enter at your own wish
Indoor pool. Mad beast.
Set the world on fire
Bejeweled. What else can I say? Yuck.
Heart shaped box
jerm IX jerm IX jerm IX
And that ladies and gentlemen, is the Beauty & The Beast. I hope that you enjoyed your visit. Now get the fuck out. The 407 series will continue in spurts, in amongst all the other abandoned goodies. Next up will be the Beautiful Batty Baldwin House.
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