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SEEN: “The Voke”

Worcester, Massachusetts

Acquainting myself with abandoned historic buildings during moments of silence—before their rebirth—is something I consider a privilege. Oftentimes, it’s as if the contents of these remarkable structures are mindfully aware of the changes about to take place. Ordinary in their day, today they carry special significance: The keys left on a sink. A flag draped over a chair. Elevator gates left slightly ajar. Hatboxes and broken glass. Weighing stations and other machines of commerce rusted and hushed. 

And so my work begins, capturing the character and temperament of discarded objects and beautiful decay. The images become storytellers, offering tangible proof of lives who labored, learned, convalesced, or worshiped within these buildings. At an early age and hand in hand with my father, who made his career preserving architectural heritage, I was encouraged to experience these landmarks firsthand. Worcester Vocational High School was no exception. It was a magical place to photograph. Once bustling with students studying trades such as woodworking and drafting, “the Voke” abounded with signs of its former spirit—graffitied lockers, scattered tools, magnificent machinery. Having inherited my father’s love of old things, I turn my attention and camera to artifacts that have been discarded but by no means overlooked.

Images by Maria Verrier