Elsie has left the building

Forgotten Gas Station | COLUMBIA County Florida c. 1920s or 30s

 

No matter how many times you come across it, it still is so unsettling to find an abandoned home filled with possessions of its last inhabitants. As connected as we are to our things, it seems so strange that someone could just leave all of theirs behind.

The floors of this particular home were covered in mementos from a life that had lived here long ago. Clothing, shoes, a television, a couch, photos, and letters signed in by Elsie in 1992 were strewn about, leaving me with so many questions.

Who was Elsie?*

When was the last time she stood here over this sink?

What changed so quickly that she and her family would leave without their things?

My imagination spins even now as I consider the possibilities; perhaps there is some fantastic story to unravel here. Or maybe we will find that this place is like so many others. Forgotten by younger generations of family who have moved away; or caught in inheritance issues; or too isolated to be of any use.

In any case, standing here above the sink and glancing out the kitchen window, it was hard not to feel a sadness that this room no longer serves the important purpose that it once did. The fireplace in the next room has no reason to be stoked nowadays, and the pillows tossed about have no heads to cradle after a hard days work.

Filled with this many artifacts, the home felt like a museum; a preserved time capsule that has held on against storms and the overgrowth that swallows much of this property. These kinds of museums have no lines, no admission fees, no velvet ropes. And even though they stand all around us, you have to keep your eyes open to find them. Inside each one, lies a new mystery.

This building served as a gas station, convenience store, and home to a family who lived in the building. It was built by the John Raleigh Hall Family in the late 1920s or early 1930s.

*Elsie was his daughter.

A local message board is filled with comments about memories as school children walking to this store after class to get a cold beverage or treat.

 
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John Raleigh Hall

John Raleigh Hall

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John Hall at home

John Hall at home

Ada Alford Hall

Ada Alford Hall

Mary Benton Hall in front of store

Mary Benton Hall in front of store

Elsie Hall in front of store

Elsie Hall in front of store