Saturday, April 25, 2015


I took a respite from the great job hunt and decided to take my camera and go in search of the ruins of this magnificent Gothic Revival church I had seen photos of located in Georgetown County.  The church was on the National Historic Registry and apparently was left to fall into disrepair until 1966 when they tore down all but the front part. The original church dated back to 1876.

Having virtually found the church's location on Google Maps, it seemed easy enough to find it in reality. It was on a road and could be accessed by the public - no need to break any laws, beg any favors, or find someone to bride. So with camera in tow and directions I headed toward Georgetown and Prince Frederick's Chapel.

One thing my DH always says when I strike out on a photo shoot excursion is to be careful. He fears I will be killed hanging off the side of a bridge, shot by some suspecting land owner, or worse yet, run over by a car as I stand on the side of the road. He also does not cotton to the idea of me roaming around in west Jesus by myself. I always assure him that I am careful, I pay attention, and I - usually- know where I am.

The trip to Georgetown was humdrum and I easily found Highway 701 headed NW out of town. The next turn was easy (Plantersville Rd) and as I drove down the nice shaded two lane road I passed gate after gate with names of old places I had read about: Nightengale Hall, Mansfield Plantation, Fairfield, Arundel. This was truly among the rice planters. Before I knew it the road was no longer a well paved two lane county road but more of a country road with no lines that went through fields of pines - for miles and miles. 

I stopped and checked my Google Maps to make sure I was where I was supposed to be - and I was. So I continued. A thought ran through my mind, I had not seen a car in a while, in a long while - as in not since I left the main highway out of Georgetown. What if the car broke down? I could fix a flat tire, but a transmission or busted engine block was way beyond my imagination (and only in my vocabulary due to an abundance of commercial television). Worse yet, there was no cell signal for my phone.

Finally I came to the intersection where the church was supposed to be located - no church. I went a bit further. Then I checked Google maps again. The road was a loop and I was on the wrong end - who knew? As I circled I did find some homes so I was still in the civilized world. As I came to the stop sign there was the church, in all her splendor sitting on a hill. The two hours and fifteen minutes of travel time was well worth it.

As I got out of the car I realized at the top of the hill there was a fence around the ruins. It was a six foot tall fence with barbed wire on top. I looked around the ends to see if there was either a place to slip through or a lower place I could at least see over. Otherwise It was going to be impossible to photograph this church.

The chain links were too close for my lens. The gap in the gate was just wide enough for me to shoot through but the view it offered was limiting at best. This was maddening. This was like the golfer's frustration dream when he dies, goes to heaven, and God tells him he will spend the rest of his life with a set of clubs at Augusta National. When the golfer asks God about golf balls, God replies, "There are none - that's the Hell of it."

Then I noticed a place where the wire had been pulled loose at the bottom of the fence and it was obvious folks had flattened themselves and shimmied under the unfortunate obstacle. I glanced over my shoulder to see if anyone was looking - as if I had seen a soul in a good twenty minutes. I looked at the wire. After some discussion with myself I decided my luck would be that I would get in the yard, take wonderful pictures, and then somehow get hurt and be unable to crawl back out. 

If only I had brought a step ladder. Who knew one needed a step ladder? I already traveled with bug spray, shears, an extra jacket, a towel, and gloves - now I needed to add a ladder! As I got in my car to leave, it dawned on me - I did not have a ladder, but I did have a car. 

I carefully drove my car as close as I could to the fence - fearing all the time someone would drive by thinking I was trying to ram the gate open. I parked it, got out, and climbed on the hood, avoiding the roof for fear of falling off. Even then I could barely see over the barbed wire. Being short does not suit this hobby. After a few shots, I climbed down and carefully eased the car back to road and returned to civilization. 

As I drove home I thought of other amateur pictures I had seen of the church. They were taken from the front and the back. Some were even taken from the inside looking up. Those photographers had willed their way in, I assumed under the fence. I was willing to that but not by myself. I would need an accomplice. Certainly others have done it without harm, and if all I am taking is pictures -  and I leave it just as I found it. . . 

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