Lee Plaza abandoned in Detroit, MI

It’s early in the morning. Thankfully, I left my gear bags by the door for a rapid departure. This always makes sense to me since I am always chasing sunlight. I want to make use of the golden hour. I make a quick coffee stop and meet up with two friends. We make our way to Lee Plaza in Detroit, MI. An abandoned hotel - apartment that has been empty for some time.  It is a Lone Ranger in height and beauty in the neighborhood. Even though it’s missing almost every window it stands stoic and beautiful. 

The ground floor is sealed up pretty decently. All the doors and windows are covered with plywood. However, they’re two holes in the ground where the boiler used to exhaust (I think maybe a boiler). The drop is only a few feet and you descend into darkness. My memory is slightly cloudy but maybe you walked across the boiler? As soon as my feet hit the ground I hear something else across the room move further away. One of the parts I loved most in abandoned buildings is the trill of getting in and out. Once we are all in we find the steps and work our way up. This isn’t my first time in the building but if memory serves me correctly it was my last time. I am well aware of the piano and its the reason I packed my bags so heavily. I brought my camera with a pile of lenses. I also brought strobes and light stands as I wanted to control the room. 

I normally don’t move things around. This time was different. The piano was at an angle I didn’t like. A move I would soon regret but we moved the piano to where it is now. I set up my strobes and camera and began to shoot some pics. I shot a bunch of angles and I knew right away I had made a picture that was going to make me happy. That is always my end goal. I want to shoot pictures that make me happy. I am my own worst critic. I uphold the highest standards to my work. If I don’t like it…you will probably never see it. 

I finish shooting the piano and repack all my gear. I have plans of heading upstairs to explore more. Then that regret moment I talked about. It feel like a block of wood has grown under my shoulder. I pulled something. What a disaster!! This is what happens when you push a piano and have to carry about 50lbs of gear. 

I decide to climb out of the building and wait in the car. I am not going to ruin the shooting time of my friends. I am not sure how long they shoot for. It didn’t mater. I was just resting in the car and when they finished off we went.  

As I was sitting in the car I was thinking. We are just a couple blocks away from the MoTown Museum. It was impossible to not consider did someone play there? I always wonder whom and what went on in these spaces. There is always a beauty inside…even one small detail. 

I was happy when I looked at this shot. The one single leg mixed with the lighting and that beautiful shadow felt like I had really shot a picture that made me happy. The piano picture has been a popular one for me. It has been album art and book covers. It has graced many walls from galleries to homes. 

Sadly, like most abandoned buildings some people love to destroy and rain havoc down upon them. Not long after someone finished off the last leg and knocked her flat. The end was near and the final blow was fire. Not for the whole building but just the piano. I don’t know how or what but maybe I know whom. You explore buildings in the city and you meet many people. All of them were pretty good people but everyone has different intentions. I don’t judge or care what they do. The fire was set and it was a fiery death. I remember seeing some pictures maybe a video of the aftermath. It was over…the last bit of beauty sucked out of her. Maybe one day I will go back and see what is going on in here. Maybe one day the building can return to work. 

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