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Tes VonMayhem Photography  .  Cleveland, OH,   .  Phone (216) 302-8044  .  vonmayhemstudios@gmail.com

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National Acme Building Cleveland, OH

October 5, 2017

Built in 1916 after merging Cleveland Twist Drill Co with the Natl. Mfg. Co, National Acme off of E. 131st in Cleveland was once one largest manufacturers of machine tools in the United States.

 

Abandoned since roughly 2012, when a failed demolition began to take place- the building is now left filled with mounds of trash, debris, and asbestos. 

 

Exploring this building was by far my hardest photography journey to date. 

 

The first floor was the only floor I had been on previously when I stuck my head in to see what Acme had to offer in passing one day. Filled with piles upon piles of trash from when the building was taken over with hopes of being a paper recycling plant, I didn't get further than some falling down wall structure in the front. This time I made it around the entire first floor. The back portion was much less trashy, and stuff had gated areas standing, and rooms with important generator looking things in them. The back half of the first floor was really well lit, but the front was something out of a bad horror movie- trash piles, puddles, water (at least I hope it was water) dripping from above, super dark and grimey. Just..ew. 

 

Venturing up a flight of metal stairs in the middle of the building (and running into a random metal cart and a super creepy chair) I made my way up to the second floor...which for me was the beginning of the end of this trip. 

 

Even with nearly all of the windows on the second floor broken, the building was incredibly stuffy. Out the gate when a building is stuffy I struggle. It's why I don't do most things in the heart of summer. Most of the these buildings aren't places I want to be sweating in. As soon as it gets stuffy in a building my mind starts to trick me into believing I can't breathe and need to take my mask off for fresh air. I have to remind myself its a trap! Don't take your mask off!  Unfortunately for me, at one point my mind won- and I stuck my fingers between my face and my mask in hopes for a quick relief of cool air.... boy was I wrong. 

 

The floors at National Acme are made of wood brick (which in itself I found fascinating) so when I cracked my mask ever so slightly, the smell of rotting wet wood flooded my nose. I made it to the end of the building and there was a gaping hole on the far wall, I was able to catch some fresh air there for a couple breaths and wipe the sweat from under my mask. With my head back on straight I was able to capture some amazing pictures of the wooden brick flooring which was swelling up creating mounds throughout the area as well as leaving perfect snake-like patterns all over. I had never seen wood brick until National Acme. (It led on me on a google fest to learn as much about it as possible later that night) let alone flooring do this! 

 

The second floor had these giant cement beams running all down it, the paint peeling off of them leaving them exposed to the light pouring from the bashed in windows. The floor plan contained still standing cubicle looking walls which I assume were office spaces and piles of old computers.

The natural light let in by the windows made everything seem so peaceful. I was shocked there weren't more plants growing between the bricks- the warm damp atmosphere would have been perfect for them! There wasn't much for graffiti here, some vandalism spraying with cuss words

 

and the very hastily drawn penis from time to time (we all know I don't consider actual graffiti art vandalism- it's too pretty and well done) but nothing really notable other than one or two pieces on divider walls from some of the usual artists I see around Cleveland. 

 

The third floor was the highest I went. Im not sure if there was any higher floors than that, but that was where I called it quits. I was met with some graffiti, some old office space looking area, and some gates with tarps hanging from them. There was more beyond the open floor I was on (you can see the black hole that led to a dark hallway and more of the building all the way in the black of my picture) but I didn't venture that far. As science has always told us, warm air rises- so by the third floor I felt like I was breathing through a warm washcloth. There was nothing exciting other than this makeshift chair with the very inviting "sit here" sprayed on it. 

 

Without a second thought, I made my way back down the stairs to get to fresh air and freedom from my mask. 

 

This building has a deep history in Cleveland, with many who once worked there still found talking about how great it was on sites where articles and historic facts can be found. It's sad to see places like this in shambles and left behind for teens looking for a hangout spot, drug users, and UrbEx-ers trespassing for a cheap thrill or a youtube channel.

 

I should take a moment to note two things:

ONE: One of the biggest reasons I struggled out the gate with this building was the asbestos signs. While most abandoned buildings are the dwelling place of asbestos- I promise you could nearly feel it filling your pores here.  Along with the signs, the National Acme Building hit the news in 2012 when it was  illegally demolished- releasing asbestos in the air.  The building has been called an eyesore and has been a topic of discussion and concern amongst surrounding buildings and nearby residents. 

 

TWO: When I go into places like this I wear a full face respirator, with P100 filters on it. I absolutely do not touch ANYTHING. I don't open doors or windows, I don't kick things like loose bricks or stones on the floor or dig through debris (even if it IS tempting in some of the buildings). I don't hold railings, open closed compartments, or play with furniture or anything else. I am aware of what truly makes a building unsafe, and use that knowledge to navigate these places as safely as possible. I carry a first aid kit, a fully charged cell phone, and a flashlight. I let someone know where I am going, along with local PD or the building owner. I try to be in and out of here for no other purpose than documenting the building, learning it's history, and sharing it in hopes of saving a building with history for a new purpose instead of letting them sit there and rot and become the safe haven for drug users. 

 

Click Here to see the full gallery from my visit. 

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