Don’t Forget To Lock Up Part II

In the previous post I called the main building a complex, and that’s what it really was. It was a low, very long and narrow building in many different parts and colors.

Here you can see the shape a bit better. I started walking along the walls looking for open doors, but it seemed that I had been too lucky with the first building. Everything was closed.

This seemed like the most promising point of entry, but I felt a little unsure. I am not that into climbing. Also look at the rain coming down. This was one of the worst weathers I’ve had to endure during my career in urbex.

One poor electric harmonium had been tossed to the courtyard. Once a very popular instrument in public institutions, these have been very unwanted for decades and are becoming pretty rare.

This area of the complex was covered in larger and more spectacular graffiti.

Another wing with a destroyed yard swing up front. I was now entering another courtyard on the other side of this strangely shaped complex.

A look back towards where I came from. I walked under the bridge and photographed the destroyed swing next to the wall.

The main entrance, which was strangely enough another open door. It seemed like the army, the police or some other public institution had used the premises for training and then simply left without unlocking.

‘Notice! The elevator buttons need to be pushed at times when walking past it!! Especially during weekends!’

Seems like another well functioning public building like the former dormitory of the central vocational school of Northern Ostrobothnia I had photographed several years earlier.

The room, which had probably once been the main assembly hall of the nursing home. I am again pretty unsure of what the plastic compartments had been used for but I again suspect authority training.

One of the windows looking back towards the direction from where I first started touring the building. The graffiti outside reaches pretty high up.

And what do we have here. Hamburger beef and some fries.

There was actually quite a lot of food tossed around the assembly hall. This was an indication of teens spending their time here.

The old, yet oddly intact piano of the nursing home. Most of the furniture had been removed, yet these rather expensive instruments had been left behind.

The moldy remains of a hamburger. These must have been here for quite some time, as McDonalds hamburgers are infamous for never changing appearance despite time passing.

The other piano in the assembly hall. I can just imagine teens entering, hanging out, eating McDonalds and spending time in the abandoned building.

The hole in the floor is probably something made by the people making the structural analysis of the building for demolition and looking for asbestos. Which there probably was a lot of in the complex.

Behind the assembly hall was a kitchen, so the previously featured large room was probably also used as a dining room for the elderly living there.

The kitchen appliances had been removed and most likely sold to other buildings prior to demolition.

All in all the place was pretty much emptied. Demolition was coming, no matter how special the building actually was.

In one corner of the kitchen was a door kept open by a hat rack. It led to the bridge looking part, which led to the next wing of the complex.

And here is the bridge seen earlier from the outside. I decided to explore this wing first.

There was a corridor. And when I walked a bit further, I realized, that the lights had come on. That was when I noticed the motion detectrors.

And that was when I ran, got into my summer car and drove away. I escaped unnoticed.

A few months later the entire complex featuring three separate buildings was demolished. One family houses now occupy the lot.

Don’t Forget To Lock Up Part I

As an active reader of news about soon to be demolished buildings, I had managed to locate a former nursing home on the outskirts of the town Hämeenlinna. It had been emptied and was destined for demolition. But I reckoned, it would still be there.

It was an early Sunday afternoon. I was tired of travelling all weekend and it was raining extremely heavily, when I arrived to the location. Despite the rain I started doing a walkaround.

The colorful 1950’s main building was up the hill. That was my main interest, but I decided to start with a smaller building just a bit to the right of this photo.

There we have it. The whole complex was built on a hillside, something very distinct in the early post-war decades.

After the place was abandoned, it had served as a public graffiti wall. Demolition was only months away.

The walls were full of graffiti. No windows were broken, no doors were open. Or that’s what I thought until I decided to try one of them.

It was unlocked. And I was able to enter a fully intact nursing home abandoned some ten years earlier.

It was raining extremely hard by now and my flip-flops were soaking wet. They made an awful noise, and as there was no broken glass in the building, I removed them and explored the premises bare footed. This is something, which I had never done before, and it was quite an experience for some reason.

The rooms were empty, but most of them featured some sort of decorations.

The graffiti on the windows was a rather strange impression from the inside.

It actually even affected the lighting inside, which was a strange realization.

The painters who had drawn here weren’t very skilled. But the old nursing home did probably provide a good starting point for the aspiring street artists of the town.

The decorations inside the rooms were somewhat too modern for a nursing home. I’m making guesses now, but perhaps the buildings had been used for something else between being a nursing home and abandoned.

“Live well, laugh often, love a lot”. Quite a message.

The deeper I went, the more unclear the use of the buildings became to me. This building featured just a few ordinary rooms and several ones with tiles and large faucets.

Another space, which has been at least used as a kitchen. There was even a canister half full of some cleaning solution here.

Another colorful window in the stairs to the basement. I once again skipped that part of the building, as the air coming from there was very cold.

Another minor wall decoration. But this was the spirit of this little side building: wall stickers and coloured windows.

The first building was quickly explored. In the next post I’ll try to find a way to enter the main complex. And it could really be called a complex.

The Killer Locomotive Memorial

When things start going badly wrong, they go even worse wrong. And this was why I decided to find my way to yet another place in the middle of nowhere in the former municipality of Kalvola in the Tavastia Proper region.

Back in one spring morning in 1957, the night train from Lapland to Helsinki was around one and a half hours late. Because of the delay it was supposed to pass an express train heading in the opposite direction at the station of Kuurila. In the very last minute the passage was changed to the station of Iittala further South, and the night train was cleared forward from Kuurila. The information didn’t reach the express train on time, so it was cleared forward from Iittala.

As they couldn’t reach the trains after the clearances, the operators knew, that an accident was bound to happen and called the local hospitals even before the crash to raise the alarm. And at around 9.45 am that morning the inevitable happened. The heavy, old steam locomotive of the night train split the light, modern aluminium locomotive of the express train in two. In addition to the locomotive, the first cars of the express train were completely destroyed. The first cars of the night train were pushed under the locomotive.

All in all 26 people died and almost 60 were injured. This became and still remains the most deadly railroad accident during peace time in Finland. That’s why a memorial was erected on the site.

It’s a simple stone with a few metal plaques. Someone still keeps the flowers fresh despite all the years.

The sign reads as follows:

‘The reason for the accident was the lack of communication in traffic management on a single track railroad. The largest peace time accident. 26 people were killed and 59 injured. The memorial has been erected to commemorate the victims and the accident site.’

The steam locomotive was later repaired and put back to service. It was later preserved and for a short while called the Killer Locomotive. The name was later dropped.

But spoiler alert: we will meet the locomotive a bit later in this blog.

The Steepest Hill

Regional route 610 running between Korpilahti and Joutsa in Central Finland is almost a normal Finnish regional road. It is one of the more spectacular roads because of its steep hills and many lakes. It’s also very, very familiar for me from my childhood summer holiday trips across Finland.

Two details separate it from an ordinary regional road. The first one is the Kärkistensalmi bridge, which is the third longest bridge in Finland. The profile of the road is also exceptionally steep, which is another speciality.

In fact the steepest hill on the Finnish road network was located on this road when it crossed the Vaarunvuori hill. The road was almost straight reaching a height of 180 metres very quickly with an average climb of 12 %, exceptional in Finland. The road rose gradually, so at times it was even steeper than that.

In 1984 a new and easier route was completed to the east of the original path. The old track was no longer accessible by car, but featured a trail, which could be hiked. And that was exactly what I did.

It wasn’t difficult to find the start of the old road. It was named Vanhavaaruntie, Old Vaaru Road.

I had to leave the car behind me. It isn’t actually visible in the photo, how steep the road in reality was.

The conditions on the route varied a lot. In some points it was so overgrown that walking was difficult. In some points it was a nice, clear path.

The route was well marked, there were even fireplaces and a sightseeing spot around the area, which is nowadays a nature reserve. I decided to go for the sightseeing spot, which was a few hundred metres from the old road.

The sightseeing spot was high above Lake Päijänne, one of the largest lakes in Finland. The view really was spectacular from there.

There was even a small pond by the old road. The road passed really really close to the water.

On we go. I walked as far I could along the old road line, but the closer I got to the current road, the more overgrown the place was. In the end I had to turn around and climb all the way back up and then walk down again to reach my car.

36 years have passed since the new road was completed. Nature is now taking over the old path.

And so we are back at the very start. Just down the hill and there is my summer car ready to take me to new adventures.

Got Past The Final Boss Part VI

Like I promised, the final post from this location is all about the other buildings and their history. The large block of flats to the right is a former dormitory. It was built in the 1970’s, when the area was starting to be used for shorter teacher training periods.

Next we’ll turn our attention to the smaller building on the left.

This is a sauna building and it is also protected by the detail plan. The old lady, who showed me the area told me, that she had locked the door that very morning after last night’s vandalism. She told me the sauna had been renovated in the 2000’s, and she was particularly angry about it being abandoned calling it a waste of money numerous times.

The functionalistic new main building. Even this building is protected. There have been rumors about a massive water leak in the basement, so the future of this one is a bit unclear.

From the same era as the old main building is the former seminar headmaster’s apartment building. It is also protected.

Another shot from the same building. It was inaccessible this time.

Basically the dormitory building would have been accessible through the window next to the door, but there was just too much broken glass in the frames for me to even try.

The backside of the old headmaster’s apartment. There was no way in here either.

Another door. Unfortunately this one, too, was locked.

A bit further away was the old canteen built at the same time as the new main building in the 1930’s. This was the fifth of the old buildings with a protected status.

A closer look a the building shows that it has, too, suffered of some vandalism, but not as excessive as some of the other buildings.

In fact the lunch buffet is still waiting for new visitors inside. Amazing, really.

The round stairway is a nice detail. There’s a nursing home right next to this building, so maybe that’s why the vandals have spent more time in other parts of the area.

One more look at the former main building.

And the old and new main buildings together. After a long and successful exploration I left the property.

So how is it doing now? In 2021 the authorities granted the town some funds to the upkeep and guarding of the buildings, and in early 2022 the area finally found a buyer, which is a property development company. They are currently making plans for the reuse of the old buildings and the construction of two (or three, if the old dormitory is demolished) housing blocks of flats.

In early 2023 there were plans to sell the town hall to the same property company and to relocate the town hall to these buildings. The politicians said no, so the future is still unknown.

Got Past The Final Boss Part V

Known as the bird attic, the top floor of one of the wings contained five accommodation rooms and a common room.

The rooms were located by a corridor. Almost all doors were open.

The first room was a shower and bath. The last renovations had probably been made after 2000, because the room looks to be in a good shape save for the vandalism.

Another bathroom / shower. It is probable that one was for the ladies and one for gentlemen.

One of the accommodation rooms. This one featuret two beds.

It’s fairly surprising that the windows are still intact. People have spent time here drinking, like the old lady told me in the first place.

Another room, this time empty.

At least there were enough exits.

A look back towards the corridor I came from.

This dark corridor was located on the first floor. The main entrance is on the opposite side of it.

The first floor contained this one rather large classroom with lots of windows.

Next to the main corridor was a smaller office corridor.

There was also an elevator, and this one is probably one of the only photos of it.

Another exit. This one leads to the back yard.

The rooms featured a display for brochures and a small wooden table.

The ground floor was much darker than all other areas of the building. The reason was, that windows were closed with plywood.

A pile of rather exclusive looking old fashioned furniture in the corner of one room.

The view from behind the receptionist’s desk. The drawings of the building are on the table.

Another office room and more blueprints. And the footprints of previous explorers.

One more look at the completely messed ground floor main corridor.

Chinese fabrics with the name of a company and image of an airplane. The Chinese didn’t manage any proper activities in the buildings and probably never will.

Commercials about education. I wonder, if this was what they were supposed to do here.

Now it gets a bit strange, as there were loads of different brochures of tourism in Northern Karelia. The place is nowhere near Northern Karelia.

So it was time to leave the main building.

I’ll publish one more post from this location before moving on. In that one I’ll show some of the other buildings in the area and give an update on their current situation.

Got Past The Final Boss Part IV

So this is what’s on top of the auditorium: the new gym built in the 1950’s.

A more general look on the room. Apparently there was equipment for gymnastics, while the bar and the mirror hint, that even ballet was being danced here at some point.

Well, at least the windows are intact here and even the roof isn’t leaking.

Of course somebody had found it necessary to break the mirrors.

A lonely bandy ball was sitting on the floor. I still wonder, where all this dust has come from. Usually everything is covered in white powder, where fire extinguishers have been fired, but I found none here.

They must have been really bad at playing, if this was the conclusion.

The gym from the other direction. Clocks have stopped, but the carpets have been moved recently.

The ladies’ dressing room. This is the place where I always wanted to sneak into during my school years.

It was a very narrow room with one shower. I don’t think that the gym groups were that big back then, if this is all.

If there’s a ladies’ dressing room, there must also be one for men.

Surprisingly this one’s larger, as most teachers are women. Even the shower area was a whole room.

The third and topmost floor of the building again contained some empty space.

The same froom from another angle. The shape of it looks somehow strange.

The room from yet another angle. It was long and narrow and featured a dishwasher.

The third floor contained smaller rooms, which were probably former offices.

Another tiny office room. The furniture left here is exactly the same as in the previous one.

Yet another version of the standard office clocks. They all have stopped in different times. To me that is an indication of the electricity still being on when this one was ripped off the wall.

The coffee room and phone have been in this room.

A coffee room indeed. There surely were enough stoves for everyone, but what is the dartboard doing here?

There was even a small balcony with an ashtray. A reminder of times, when everybody smoked everywhere.

This thing seems to have flown quite far from the gym.

Such nice art!

There was another staircase in this end of the building. The old brick house is a sauna. The lady, who guided me in, told me, that it had been renovated not too many years before abandonement.

Another clock and again a different time.

There’s one more wing to explore, and that will be something completely different.

Got Past The Final Boss Part III

This is the sight that greeted me, when I entered the new main building. Like most buildings of this era, its wings were build in different levels.

So this is the main corridor running through the building on the first floor. Most of the furniture in the building had been stored here. There was also a receptionist’s desk here as there was in the old main building.

To the other direction from the lobby was this narrow and dark corridor. Of couse by the look of the windows I already realized, that this was where another assembly hall would be located.

And behind the double doors in the previous picture, the corridor continued.

And the door to the left in the previous picture lead to this auditorium, which was indeed a surprise find.

I really didn’t expect this view. There were rows of plush old seats rising towards the back of the room. I later googled the history of the place, and this room had originally been the gym. The building had been expanded in the 1950’s, when this room had been converted into an auditorium and a new gym built atop of it.

Another view from the front of the auditorium showing its sheer size.

And a view from the top. A good 100 people could be studying here simultainiously.

There were also some side rooms stuffed with old furnitures and a library of, well, something.

Another small room, the use of which was unclear. Note the strangely regular purple footprints.

Going up the main staircase, there were lonely pieces of furniture along the way. Next to the seminar a teaching school was built in the 1950’s. It was one of the schools in the town, but the teachers studying here were practicing in it. It was demolished a few years prior and replaced with a new school, which can be seen being built on the opposite side of the road.

And up we go again. The main entrance is down and to the right. The main corridor is down and to the left. But I decided to go up.

In this part of the building there were again some rooms, the use of which I couldn’t figure out.

Judging by all the outlets these had been offices. But you can never know.

The second floor corridor. The rooms pictured earlier are to the left of the picture.

But all in all they seemed like classrooms.

And the desks here yet again strenghtened the impression. These had indeed been classrooms.

This was the way the chairs were placed in my childhood school for Christmas. We all sat in a large square facing each other.

The second floor corridor as seen from the other end.

On this floor there were also several small rooms, which looked like office blocks. Please note the large mirror on the wall to the right.

Another classroom and an elevator. It looked highly unlikely, that an elevator would have been built into a class. Which probably means, that the use of the rooms had been changed in the course of history.

And the other side of a mirror. Openings like this were located in some of the rooms in the building. Apparently they were one sided mirrors meant for observing students.

A small storage room with one of the one sided mirrors.

And another rather large classroom.

This one was a lot larger than the other rooms. Also the walls looked like this one has been preserved in a more original state than the others.

Oh, look! An old overhead projector. These were still mainstream, when I did my high school in the 2000’s.

To be continued.

Got Past The Final Boss Part II

The first view to the courtyard from the second floor windows. The brick building visible behind the trees is a former dormitory built in the 1970’s, when the seminar was closed and converted to providing other forms of education.

Most of the second floor was what was the real gem of the building: the main assembly hall. And yes, what you can see on the wall is an organ. I’ve never seen anything like that in an abandoned building before.

Same view, a different angle. It was 7 am, I was tired and the whole place just amazed me.

A closer look at the organ. I really would have liked to try to play it, but for two reasons I passed. A: I can’t play anything. B: I was really afraid of some other neighbour catching me, if suddenly organ tunes were to come from an abandoned building.

A close up of the railing in the upstairs lobby. I hope I’m not the only one who thinks, that those look like, well, uhm.

Of course it’s a suitable decoration for a seminar educating mainly women. In fact this location was chosen in the first place because it was considered remote and peaceful enough for, well, not having any disturbances.

These small stairs lead from the lobby to the scene of the assembly hall.

The stage actually served a double function. It was both the stage and a classroom. The renovations have done no good here either. It’s actually awful what they’ve done with the walls. It looks so cheap.

Wonder, where the besssss ass bitches were, when you needed them.

The upstairs lobby from the other direction. Note the open doors of the assembly hall, which make a perfect row.

A view from the assembly hall. Around a month later a nationwide newspaper made a story about the place, when the owner allowed neighbours and other people interested in the fate of the buildings to visit. I think that even the old lady I met was featured in the article.

From the pictures of the article it was evident, that all these chairs had been thrown over the strangely themed rail downstairs to the main entrance.

The view towards the stage. The army of green chairs scattered around the building is significant in size.

A switchboard of the lights in the assembly hall.

The use of glass tiles is a totally undervalued decoration element.

Another look at the main entrance, which is slowly starting to grow all kinds of things.

And an other look at the old building. I wonder, what lay behind those round windows. I couldn’t find access to that space.

And slowly I’m leaving that part of the complex behind and heading towards the new main building built in the 1930’s.

The old main building also featured a side door. The owners and the town had tried to keep unauthroized visitors away, but hadn’t been very successful.

And so I headed towards the new building. Although nobody had cut the grass in recent weeks, it wasn’t that overgrown. Somebody was taking care of the place after all.

The main entrance to the new building. Again one of the doors was ajar exactly where the old lady had showed me.

And that’s where we’ll go in the next post.

Got Past The Final Boss Part I

I had once again slept in my summer car, and woken up very early to the sound of birds and the rising sun starting to heat up my car. It was around 6.45 am, when I reached a small town, which I rarely visit.

I drove around the streets of the small centre and suddenly noticed something interesting.

It wasn’t the beautiful old building with bushes growing a bit too close to it, but rather the large yellow functionalistic masterpiece with boarded up windows, which caught my attention. I parked the car and walked closer.

I didn’t get past this first photo, before a very small old lady with a huge German shepherd dog appeared out of nowhere.

“And what are you doing here at this time of the day, young man”, she asked me.

“I noticed the beautiful buildings and decided to have a closer look”, I replied.

“An isn’t it just shameful, how the town lets these historic places be ruined”, she screamed.

She proceeded by telling me that the place was a teacher training college opened in 1899. It was shut down in the 1970’s and instead became a centre of further education for teachers until 1998. A few private education companies followed, until the place became another Chinese affair. A newly founded company bought the premises with the intent of educating Chinese nurses. Nothing came of it and the buildings were abandoned.

The more the old lady talked, the more furious she grew. She went on by telling that she lives nearby and hears sounds of vandalism every single night. She calls the cops, who do nothing. She has contacted the town administration, but they do nothing. Nobody does anything and the buildings just rot. Every morning she takes her dog out on a walk around the premises and locks every door that has been opened during the previous night.

She went on and on and on and soon she wasn’t talking about the building anymore. It had just become a general rant about the covid pandemic and I was politely listening to her thinking, that there is no way to get past the lady, who seemed like the worst nightmare of every urbexer on this planet. Or that was until she ranted about all hobbies being cancelled.

“Oh, and what do you do”, I asked out of sheer politeness.

“Folk dance”, she replied.

“Wait a second, me too.”

That wasn’t a lie. I do folk dance and when I told her about our group, it turned out she had seen us perform on festivals. I told her, that as I can’t dance due to the pandemic, I bought a summer car, try to visit every single current and former municipality in the country and photograph abandoned houses in the process. I told her, that I was really interested about these buildings.

“Oh, let me show you”, she said and started walking towards the older main building.

There were six buildings in the area. Four, she told me, were completely locked and inaccessible, as she had locked the former sauna building just minutes earlier. But she actually showed me all broken entrances to the two main buildings in the first picture.

“So will you call the cops on me if I enter”, I asked.

“Of course not, I’m not the owner. And I can see if a person is up to any good or not, and you definitely are.”

She wished me a nice day and left me standing on the yard in astonishment. I had just managed to talk my way past the worst neighbourhood stalker by folkdancing.

This is the other side of the main building. The yellow building in the background was enlarged in the 1950, and that was when the older building also got a new main entrance shown here.

Otherwise it was a usual classical two storey building, half wooden, half brick. The lady had showed me, that one door was missing a window, so that’s where I entered.

The entrance was directly to the 1950’s main stairway. The old external wall has probably been where the pillars and balcony are now.

The main lobby. The old doors have been preserved, but otherwise the renovations haven’t done very good to this building. There are several traces of rebuilds from the 1970’s or 1980’s, which are not very nice.

Such as the plastic floor and this entrance counter. This actually looks like what has happened with many older railway stations in Finland.

A look to the other end of the lobby. Note the white dust, which was about everywhere in the building.

One of the larger rooms downstairs. The dust extends here and the footprints show, that trespassers often come here.

Cleaning equipment was there waiting for the brave one who would take their time to clean things up. The task was probably too huge for anyone to begin with.

Another one of the rooms downstairs. There wasn’t much to see here.

Although not very well compactible with the old building, I find the main staircase extremely beautiful. The 1950’s and early 1960’s were the last times, when small details of buildings were well thought. After that it was just elements.

And by small details I mean for example the lighting. The lamps are very small.

In the next post we’ll go on with the upstairs.