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E. A. Conway Memorial Hospital

Our local charity hospital was opened in 1941 and served all of northeastern Louisiana until the facilities were finally moved to a new building in 1987.  The old one has remained vacant since then, rotting, decaying, crumbling.

In 2006, nearly 20 years after it was emptied, I got permission to photograph the interior.  I went with a friend in the freezing cold of December.  I wanted privacy, to be able to experience the hulk of the structure on my own, so we split up as soon as we entered the building.  Neither of us had thought to bring flashlights.

The exterior rooms were flooded with light but the interior rooms and corridors were black holes.  It was silent except for the dripping of water through the roof, through the ceiling tiles, onto the floors and beyond.  I knew I was in a wet cocoon of fermenting asbestos.

But I was also inside a chamber of memories that echoed in the darkness.  So many lives had passed through the rooms and hallways.  Births and deaths and everything in between.

I even did my first clinical rotation there when I was in nursing school.  I passed the once familiar desk and remembered the antiquated system of charting, a tracheostomy, a double amputee, names long forgotten.

I stumbled from floor to floor, up the stairs, through the now unlocked psychiatric unit, the OR, the nursery.  Standing in the cold.  Waiting for the camera's shutter to close during the long 30 second exposures.  Listening.  And, hopefully, honoring the lingering spirits.

 Click here for the images.