I refer to this abandoned farmhouse as the Prairie-Brock House because it stands in the middle of a cornfield at the corner where Brock Road hits Prairie Road in northern Fayette County, halfway between Jeffersonville and Midway. At least it did when I explored it one morning in June of 2001 after staying up all night.
The cornfield is still planted and harvested, so I assume the house belongs to the same property owner. It probably has a more proper name than this, such as the name of the last family to inhabit it. Whoever they were, they've been gone a long, long time, and the person who now owns the building has done something with it that I've seen more than a few times in poking around crumbling rural brick houses: he's turned it into a storage shed.
What's really odd about the storage shed thing in this particular case is the bizarre juxtaposition of the relics from the house's previous life with the bales of hay and various sticks of junked furniture from the present. First there's the lawn and immediate grounds, which were shaggy but not completely neglected. The bushes around the house are untrimmed, and one of the big trees somebody planted alongside is starting to show bare places. When we were there the plants outside were infested with some kind of bulbous black beetle we thought were ticks at first.
Only the upper windows have any glass, and even they are looking pretty bad. Some effort was made to shutter or board some of them, but at this point they've just decided to forget about it.
Likewise, they stopped boarding the doors and just decided to leave them open. We went in through the back door, which was practically off its hinges, and found the kitchen to be stripped of almost every fixture and piled practically to the ceiling with miscellaneous junk: barrels, tires, lamps, lumber, rusty patio furniture...and, weirdest of all, red vinyl-padded bench seats from a restaurant or bar of some kind. Click on one of the pictures below for a better look at it; maybe you can tell me where it came from.
Then there's the ubiquitous hay. Bales and bales of hay, stacked everywhere throughout the house. As you can see below, some rooms were literally filled with it.
Rooms not blocked up with baled hay were likely to have a foot-deep carpet of loose pieces of it. When you walked around on the spongy, bouncy stuff you could hear fieldmice scurrying around underneath. The hay covered the first floor from the kitchen at the back to the large front door, which was closed but not locked and was quite dangerous, since the boards that made up the front steps were gone.
The front staircase is one indicator of what a nice house this used to be. The banister features large newel posts and carved wooden balusters.
Through a door in the kitchen was the back staircase--another sign that this was once a rich person's house. When it was built the family who lived here was imagined to have servants who would cook for them. Having land meant having money, I guess.
I think that whoever stores his hay here has made the calculated decision to forget about the second floor. This is probably smart, since many of the risers on both staircase have broken in two, and the upper floor might not be able to take the weight of all those bales. Still, it is kind of strange to walk up and suddenly see the house so bare and in such reasonably decent condition.
Upstairs you can tell what it used to be like. The floors aren't in good shape, and parts of the ceiling have collapsed, but you can at least see the old wooden floorboards. Under many of the bedroom windows are kneehigh cabinets with the doors still attached.
Maybe it comes from growing up in little apartments, but it blows my mind to think that somebody owns this big old farmhouse and probably forgets that it's here for long periods of time. How many times have they come upstairs and looked through the window cabinets, or noticed the still-visible patches of fancy wallpaper?
There was a ladder to the roof, but the rickety way it leaned over the open stairwell made me not want to try it.
I can't vouch for the condition of the house anymore, but if you want to see it for yourself you can find it near the Madison County line northeast of Jeffersonville, at the place where Brock Road bumps into Prairie Road. And please drop me a line if you have any updates about the place.