Sunny Acres: San Luis Obispo Orphanage Set for Adaptive Reuse

Sunny Acres orphanage opened in 1931 in San Luis Obispo, California.(Image: Sarmatae. Sunny Acres orphanage opened in 1931)

Abandoned buildings often give rise to colourful urban legends that blur fact and fiction. The derelict Sunny Acres orphanage in San Luis Obispo, California, which is currently under renovation, is no exception.

Elegant brickwork defined the San Luis Obispo building.(Image: Sarmatae. Elegant brickwork defined the San Luis Obispo building)

Known in some circles as Hells Acres and described as an abandoned insane asylum haunted by the ghosts of children and malevolent former employees, Sunny Acres opened in 1931, almost 90 years ago, and closed in the mid-1970s.

Sunny Acres orphanage was abandoned in the 1970s.(Image: Sarmatae. The orphanage was abandoned in the 1970s)

Strip away the dark folklore that swirls around it, and the building’s history is more prosaic. Sunny Acres was built as an orphanage and later served as the county’s juvenile detention center, reported The Tribune newspaper in San Luis Obispo. The building had been empty for a decade or more before falling victim to a fire in 1989.

Fire ripped through the derelict Sunny Acres in 1989.(Image: Sarmatae. Fire ripped through Sunny Acres in 1989)

The Tribune wrote: “Workers who enter are required to wear respirators. Chunks of floor, wall and ceiling are missing. What’s left between peeling flakes of paint is covered with graffiti. Gnarled metal bars dangle across hallways. Old cells are lit by rays of sunlight that pierce the holes of the boards covering the glassless windows.”

The former San Luis Obispo orphanage is now being converted into affordable housing.(Image: Sarmatae. The complex also served as a juvenile detention center)

After years of decay the 87-year-old Sunny Acres is poised for adaptive reuse. The abandoned orphanage is under renovation and is set to reopen in in 2019 as part of Bishop Street Studios, a project that aims “to provide affordable housing for adults who receive mental health services.”

The Sunny Acres complex also served as a juvenile detention center.(Image: Sarmatae. The former orphanage is now being converted into affordable housing)

Read Next: What’s the Story Behind California’s Mysterious Pirate Tower?

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“On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened”: Another Monument to Nothing!

“On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened” - another offbeat plaque to nothing, this time in Gowla, Galway, Ireland.(Image: Oxana Maher. “On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened”)

A week ago we featured this curious plaque in Clintonville, a neighbourhood of Columbus, Ohio, which bore the intriguing inscription: “On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened”. We also quoted the Mental Floss website, which explained that such plaques were not unusual, and that similar ones could be purchased online and dated back to the 1980s.

And here’s the proof (as if any were needed)! A similar plaque bearing the same inscription is pictured above in Gowla, Galway, Ireland. As photographer Oxana Maher adds in the image caption:

Monument to nothing, Recess

Erected by the locals just for the hell of it!

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“On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened”: Another Monument to Nothing!

“On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened” - another offbeat plaque to nothing, this time in Gowla, Galway, Ireland.(Image: Oxana Maher. “On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened”)

A week ago we featured this curious plaque in Clintonville, a neighbourhood of Columbus, Ohio, which bore the intriguing inscription: “On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened”. We also quoted the Mental Floss website, which explained that such plaques were not unusual, and that similar ones could be purchased online and dated back to the 1980s.

And here’s the proof (as if any were needed)! A similar plaque bearing the same inscription is pictured above in Gowla, Galway, Ireland. As photographer Oxana Maher adds in the image caption:

Monument to nothing, Recess

Erected by the locals just for the hell of it!

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The Abandoned Target Towers of Luce Bay, Scotland

Abandoned 1930s target bases on Luce Bay bombing range.(Image: James T M Towill. Abandoned 1930s target bases on Luce Bay bombing range)

It was once an important fishery, but in more recent times the wide sweep of Luce Bay – in Wigtownshire, Scotland – has been used as a bombing range by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence operating from the former RAF West Freugh airfield nearby. Nowadays, the range is run by defence giant Qinetiq, which uses Luce Bay for the test and evaluation of bombs and air-to-surface missiles. But punctuating the sands at low tide are a series of unusual structures that echo an earlier period in the location’s military history.

Ruined concrete and metal target tower in Luce Bay.(Image: James T M Towill. Ruined concrete and metal target tower in Luce Bay)

A bombing range was established at Luce Bay during the 1930s to train RAF aircrew in the art of weapons delivery. The most notable structures on the range were two clusters of metal-covered concrete towers, three in each cluster, that formed a solid tripod base for a large triangular target. Eight decades after the Luce Bay range was established, these intriguing cone-like structures (pictured) continue to dominate the landscape.

The Luce Bay bombing range near MOD West Freugh is still in use, now operated by Qinetiq, but the 1930s target bases stand long disused.(Image: James T M Towill. The disused Luce Bay target bases date to c. 1937)

A.T. Murchie writes in The RAF In Galloway 1910-2000: “The two Luce Bay targets were erected in 1937 by the contractors who had constructed the airfield. They were situated at the shallow northern end of the bay, built on the sandy sea bed offshore, but above the low water mark.”

(Image: James T M Towill)

The author adds: “Considerable difficulty was found in ensuring the stability of the three conical supports required to carry each triangular target platform which had to be above sea level in all conditions. Eventually, foundations were taken to a depth of 30 feet, no easy task working between tides using the limited construction material then available.”

(Image: James T M Towill)

Though the Luce Bay bombing range is still used by Qinetiq, operating from what is now known as MOD West Freugh, the disused 1930s target towers have been abandoned for years. This series of photographs reveals their condition; lonely sentinels from a pre-war era when Britain’s very survival hung in the balance.

(Image: James T M Towill)

The Luce Bay bombing range was used by the Royal Air Force over the 60 year period from the 1930s to the 1990s. During that time, ordnance dropped from aircraft was reportedly retrieved by an old minesweeper based at Drummore on the Rhins of Galloway.

(Image: James T M Towill)

In the years since, the firing range has been operated by Qinetiq, part of the former Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence. Access to Luce Bay is restricted while the range is in use.

Related: Ashley Walk Bombing Range: Explore the Ruins of a Secret World War Two Test Site

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Vintage Austin Parcels Tractor Demonstrates Form & Function

A vintage Austin parcels tractor photographed at Central Railway Station in Sydney, Australia during the early 20th century.(Image: Photographic Collection. Austin parcels tractor at Central Railway Station in Sydney)

We’re often of looking at the past through rose tinted spectacles, and remembering days gone by from an objective standpoint can at times be a challenge. But when confronted with vintage machines like this one, it’s hard not to wonder whether the best days of design are long behind us. Despite its application in the relatively prosaic task of carting packages and other light freight around the Central Railway Station in Sydney, Australia, this Austin parcels tractor has a rugged elegance that exudes the importance of both form and function in early 20th century industrial design.

Read Next: The Short Life of the Abandoned Sydney Monorail

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Eltanin Antenna: From Alien Artefact to Carnivorous Sponge

The Eltanin Antenna turned out to be an unusual carnivorous sponge called Cladorhiza concrescens (or Chondrocladia concrescens).(Image: US Government. The Eltanin Antenna pictured in 1964)

In 1964, while photographing the deep seabed west of Cape Horn, the Antarctic oceanographic research ship USNS Eltanin stumbled across a bizarre object that would baffle the scientific community for years to come. Resembling some sort of man-made aerial, the object of unknown origin appeared to be anchored to the seabed in around 13,000 feet of water.

It wasn’t long before myriad theories were posited to explain the so-called Eltanin Antenna. Some suggested it had fallen off a ship, while others hypothesised that the mysterious object was some sort of top secret Soviet broadcasting device. 1964 was, of course, the height of the Cold War.

Other fringe proponents and conspiracy theorists, including retired New Zealand airline pilot Bruce Cathie and UFO proponent, suggested the Eltanin Antenna could be an extraterrestrial artefact. Treehugger writes that “The shape of the object and the angle of its spokes, [Cathie] said, fit precisely into a formula he believed extraterrestrials used to control humanity.” The website also quoted Cathie as saying:

“The nodal points of the two grids, when joined by series of small and great circles formed what I have loosely termed polar squares around the north and south geographic poles. It was when I carried out a geometric and mathematical analysis of these sections that I found a direct connection with light, gravity and mass equivalents in a harmonic sense.”

It wasn’t until many years after its discovery that the truth behind the Eltanin Antenna was finally revealed. A. F. Amos, an oceanographer who had been aboard the USNS Eltanin back in the ’60s, pointed researchers to a 1971 book called The Face of the Deep by Bruce C. Heezen and Charles D. Hollister.

1888 illustration of Cladorhiza concrescens sponge.(Image: Alexander Agassiz. The 1888 illustration of Cladorhiza concrescens)

It turned out the alien artefact was actually a carnivorous sponge called Cladorhiza concrescens (or Chondrocladia concrescens). Heezen and Hollister’s work included a drawing which originated in American scientist Alexander Agassiz’s 1888 book Three Cruises of the Blake (above). Agassiz described the deep water sponge as having “a long stem ending in ramifying roots, sunk deeply into the mud. The stem has nodes with four to six club-like appendages. They evidently cover like bushes extensive tracts of the bottom.”

Meanwhile, Bruce Heezen and Charles Hollister said that Cladorhiza concrescens “somewhat resembles a space-age microwave antenna”, reflecting how the “Eltanin Antenna” was mistaken for a man-made broadcasting device, if not an alien one. As Treehugger summed up: “It all goes to show that while the human imagination can invent new worlds full of strange, fascinating creatures–there’s no shortage of such things on this world as well.”

Read Next: 10 Enduring Cold War Mysteries & Conspiracy Theories

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The Curious Clintonville Plaque

Clintonville plaque: "On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened".(Image: Walkerspace. Clintonville plaque: “On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened”.)

In the Clintonville neighbourhood of Columbus, Ohio can be found a mysterious plaque embedded in the sidewalk. The curious “Clintonville plaque” reads: “On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened”. Keep your eyes peeled for it as you pass the corner of Torrence Road and Brevoort Road in the north-central Columbus community.

What could it mean? Is it a local mystery of merely a practical joke? Well, according to Mental Floss, the so-called Clintonville plaque may not be as unusual as it seems: “Ever seen one of those wacky “On This Site in 1897, Nothing Happened” plaques? You’re not alone. They’ve been spotted all over the world, and have been in existence since at least the 1980s. You can buy one online, pre-antiqued, for around 30 bucks.”

Read Next: Syracuse, NY: “Bomb” & Nose Art on Euclid Avenue

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Abandoned School Bus Near San Pedro de Atacama

The shell of a long abandoned school bus in stark Chilean desert outside the tourist town of San Pedro de Atacama.(Image: Pablo Garcia Saldaña. Abandoned school bus in the Atacama Desert)

There may not be anything inherently interesting about an abandoned school bus (beyond, perhaps, captivating photography), but this gutted old hulk certainly stands out amid an otherwise empty, barren landscape. How long the forgotten shell, stripped of its internal fittings, has lain there is unknown, though its chassis has long gone. Despite its stark surroundings, the bus is actually located near San Pedro de Atacama, a popular tourist town in Chile’s El Loa Province.

Be sure to check out more oddities in the Atacama Desert, from a giant hand to a vast railway locomotive cemetery.

Related: 10 Abandoned Bus Stations, Depots & Terminals

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Mam Tor Landslide: The Abandoned A625 Road

Abandoned Mam Tor road (A625), closed after the 1979 landslide.(Image: Rob Bendall. Abandoned Mam Tor road (A625), closed after 1979 landslide)

Known as the Mother Hill or Shivering Mountain, Mam Tor in Derbyshire‘s High Peak has been plagued by landslides for centuries, so it may not come as a surprise to learn that a road constructed alongside its troublesome eastern edge now lies abandoned. The ruined stretch was part of the early 19th century turnpike road (A625) from Sheffield, in South Yorkshire, to Chapel-en-le-Frith, which was eventually abandoned in 1979 after numerous landslips.

Mam Tor: the Mother Hill, or Shivering Mountain.(Image: Rob Bendall. Mam Tor: the Mother Hill, or Shivering Mountain)

The A625 was built in 1819 by the Sheffield & Chapel-en-le-Frith Turnpike Company. It ran from the old Steel City’s Moore Street roundabout, at the top of St Mary’s Gate, along Ecclesall Road to Dore and on to Hathersage, the Peak District village reputed to be the final resting place of Robin Hood’s loyal friend and lieutenant Little John. From Hathersage, the road headed west through Castleton to the old Norman town of Chapel-en-le-Frith, where the A625 meets the A6.

(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

The turnpike road followed the route of an ancient packhorse trail, which wound through the dramatic limestone gorge known as the Winnats Pass, west of Castleton. Travelling between towering limestone escarpments makes for a dramatic drive through the heart of the High Peak, but the steep gradient and narrow cleft through which the packhorse trail passed caused Georgian era road builders to reconsider the route.

(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

The “New Road” – as it was known to locals in Castleton and the many isolated farms on the barren limestone plateau – turned north immediately west of the village, winding its way up the southern side of Mam Tor. It then veered back across the active landslide on the eastern edge of the hill and rejoined the A625 at Windy Knoll. From there, it continued its relatively straight course to Chapel-en-le-Frith. The 19th century road used spoil from the now-disused Odin Mine, which is thought to be among the oldest lead mines in England and the oldest documented mine in Derbyshire.

(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

But it wasn’t long before the apty named Shivering Mountain waged a relentless battle of man versus nature against the ill-fated Sheffield & Chapel-en-le-Frith Turnpike. The Mam Tor road quickly found itself at the mercy of landslides due to layers unstable sub-surface shale, which were greatly exacerbated by the High Peak rainfall. Thus the short stretch of A625 required ongoing repair over the 160 years that followed its construction.

Broken ruins of the A625 road on Mam Tor in the High Peak, west of Castleton.(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

As the decades passed, a series of intense landslips led to major repairs carried out in 1912, 1933, 1946, 1952 and 1966. Less than a decade later, a massive landslide caused a part of the east side of the Shivering Mountain to collapse, and by 1979 the troubled Mam Tor road had been closed permanently. It seems the builders of that ancient packhorse route had the right idea as west-bound traffic once again returned to the Winnats Pass.

Abandoned road on Mam Tor, Derbyshire.(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

Almost 40 years after it closed, the broken ruins of the abandoned Mam Tor road are clearly visible on the east side of the “Mother Hill”. The slipped surface reveals multiple layers of tarmac and gravel laid in a bid to counter subsistence over the years. But in the end, the battle was lost, leaving behind a man-made relic laid waste by the Shivering Mountain.

(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

Related: 10 Haunting Abandoned Bridges and Viaducts

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128-Year-Old Evening Standard Newspaper Found Under Buckingham Palace Floorboards

(Image: @RoyalFamily)

A crumpled edition of the Evening Standard printed during the reign of Queen Victoria has been found beneath the floorboards of Buckingham Palace, it was reported – appropriately enough – by the Evening Standard today.

The 128-year-old paper was discovered during a renovation of the current monarch’s private apartments inside the royal home.

The remarkably preserved item is dated “Wednesday November 7 1889” and was printed two years after Victoria’s golden jubilee when the queen was Empress of India.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman told the newspaper: “It’s intriguing to consider who might have read these pages.”

Perhaps Victoria herself browsed the copy before it was cocooned for more than a century beneath the floor. Also uncovered “a trio of vintage cigarette packets”, according to the Royal Family’s official Twitter account.

Hat Tip: The Evening Standard.

Read Next: The Ultra-Secret “Buckingham Palace Tunnel”

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