House at Norristown Farm Park

Maybe three or so weeks ago my husband and I took a walk in Norristown Farm Park. You can read about it here on my personal blog, Sometimes You Get So Confused.

We did some art drop offs and took photos. Some were of this house on the park’s property. I took my favorite shots and drew vignettes in a sketchbook at home. Here’s the array of drawings:

House at Norristown Farm Park 3-20 four views001

And here are the photos that inspired them.


15 thoughts on “House at Norristown Farm Park

  1. agnesashe

    There is something so mournful about abandoned buildings, isn’t there? I think your sketches have captured that quality with the blank windows.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. This park, the former farm for the adjacent mental hospital (for when back in the day patients were encouraged to have work to do if possible and the farm supported the hospital) was, before it belonged to the hospital, the site of private farms before that, from which time several houses and buildings still exist, all in a state of decreptitude. This is one of them, and I hate to see it, because it’s a solid old place. Needs a roof, though, and with the holes I saw, the building does not have long to live, because once your roof goes, that’s it. I hoped to capture this air of melancholy and gentle fading in the pictures.

      1. agnesashe

        I think you definitely succeeded in capturing an air of melancholy. I am surprised the building has been allowed to moulder, but at least there is still a chance it can be saved. Sometimes here in the UK buildings are knocked down too quickly and then they are gone forever.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          There are several similar buildings on the park property – I think after they were family homes, officials of the mental hospital lived in them, and then when the farm evolved and now is the park, I think it might be a funding issue. Seems to me, too, though, they’d be easy to make weathertight and see if anyone can do anything in the future. I think someone could be found to rehabilitate this particular house and live in it on some kind of a long lease. (I sure would love the location). I’ve seen this in other parks around us.

        2. agnesashe

          Yes, I agree with you, and conservation with an eye to the future is surely in general a more positive approach with environmental issues in mind.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. That made my day. I love this park, and its peculiar history, this building being part of it. And I also love houses of all kinds, old, new, whatever, and I like to think about their looks as well as the lives they have had, their own and their occupants. This house had quite an atmosphere. That is what I hoped to catch.

  2. Diane

    I love these! There is a quality of playfulness; can’t quite come up with the right word.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. This house was very easy to draw, it had a lot of personality. Even though it was falling down, and a bit melancholy, it still looked proud of itself.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I also like the look and feel of something past its newness and glory days. I find the same feeling on the mental hospital grounds proper – many buildings have been taken down but there are many left, from all eras, and the beauty of the campus with the trees contrasted with its history is very striking (I think you might enjoy checking out the hospital, very little of it is in use now and that part is clearly closed off, the rest is open). I think the farm park has some of this air for me as well – I never forget its history and this building seems to draw on some of that to me.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          I’ll be interested in what you think. Visiting there prompted me to dig deeper into the history of mental hospitals in this country and it is fascinating, and sad, and full of human stories that have pathos, humor, kindness, and cruelty. Quite a topic, the treatment of mental illness in past days, and the buildings symbolize it and embody it.

        2. Laura (PA Pict)

          I think the treatment of the mentally ill (and those considered mentally ill) throughout history is universally awful. Thankfully attitudes and treatments have evolved over the century but there is still much scope for improvement.

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