A group of Indiana-based photographers took an interest in taking photos of abandoned buildings and archaic architectural sites, although they soon figured out that taking pictures of these precious buildings won’t keep them from being torn down after decades of decay. The group has formed a collective and called themselves “Decay Devils” in an attempt to take a more proactive step and help preserve these historical artifacts.
“With photography, you’re capturing the moment, the current state. But for our members, when you see the elements of your idea implemented, it gives you a different sensation,” Decay Devils’ founder Tyrell Anderson says. “We’re able to create instead of just capture.” Founded by Tyrell Anderson, a freelance photographer and writer, the group aims to protect and preserve the aging landmarks of Northwest Indiana in collaboration with the community, along with Decay Devils’ partners, which include Legacy Foundation, Knight Foundation, Gary, Indiana City Council, AWDIP 2.0, and Alliance for the Great Lakes. However, the Decay Devils carry a broader dream to spread their message all over the world. They want to help restore the beauty and in turn pride of unoccupied historical buildings worldwide.
So far, they have revived three historical landmarks in Gary, Indiana; these are the Land Company House, EJ & E 765 and lastly and perhaps most notably, they were involved in the revival of Gary’s Union Station. The Union Station cleanup was concluded through a series of community events, including a community cleanup of the historical landmark which dates back to 1910, although it has been closed since 1950. In April of this year, they cleaned the area in and around the station, creating recreational space and landscaping features. One week later, they hosted an art gallery at Union Station to attract tourists and more locals before they start the “reincarnation” on May 28, when they created seating, planted trees, instated an irrigation system, and installed lighting. The “rebirth” took place on August 12, when the community enjoyed an afternoon full of art, music, food, and activities.
There are tens of abandoned historical buildings in Indiana yet to be saved and revived before they either collapse or get sold to real estate developers. Locals are often uncomfortable about hanging around these buildings since many have become sites for illegal activities, meaning that interventions like those by Decay Devils are welcomed by the community.