Part II

Like magic, I returned to the Clemens Mansion this past Saturday. For two weeks in a row, I explored the same mansion, abandoned and delicate, and left disappointed. Something doesn’t want us there. Clearly. Otherwise we would have stayed put, getting to explore the rest of the mansion, and leaving without disappointment. One would think so at least, but again, something doesn’t want us there.

But before I get there, let me explain everything else.

Unlike the Saturday before, it was warm. I didn’t need a jacket. That was a nice change, as abandoned buildings either replicate the outside weather, or worsen it. Adding a jacket to my bag full of batteries, flashlight(s), dust masks and gloves was unnecessary. Not to mention the fact it was around 64 F by the time we got inside the mansion (which is essentially summertime-like weather in St. Louis).

Anyways, there were about seven of us. Two of which were an ‘urbex couple’, meaning they met in an abandoned building and have dated ever since. And for some reason, I was the youngest person there this time. Regardless everyone there was very nice and very easy to talk to.

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The urbex couple showed us a new entrance instead of what we used last week where the people passing by decided to flip me off. Thank God, I thought, as there were street cleaners blowing leaves directly in front of the mansion. Walking from our meetup spot to the street alongside it, to a relatively sketchy neighborhood, we arrived to what used to be the driveway, completely open and practically inviting us in.

(There was a fence, but it was knocked over so much all you had to do was halfway step on it with one foot to get over.)

The cellar doors have long been gone, but hides in disguise with the piece of plywood covering the entrance. We push it open, and away go inside to the basement. It was completely ruined o say the least. There wasn’t much to see except the floor caving in right above us. (One guy there tried climbing up the rubble to the first floor, and you could actually hear the room above us moaning in agony.

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To say the least, the basement was a maze. Obviously, without flashlights, we couldn’t see anything, which only made matters worse when we all momentarily thought there might not be an easy way to the first floor. (Spoiler alert: there was. Thanks decaying staircase!) And it was here where everything become a repeating set of events, with different outcomes. The staircase we climbed up seven days prior, the eerie hallway sitting in shadows mixed with sunlight, but with a less creepy vibe all around.

Oh, and the fact I was completely wrong about one very important factThat ‘ballroom’? It was a chapel. I’m not sure why I thought it was a ballroom aside from what someone had told me, because various older pictures of the chapel make it very obvious it was indeed a chapel.

Ten years ago.
Ten years ago.
© Built St. Louis
Today.
Today.

I feel very silly for ever thinking this was a ballroom. I mean, I suppose it made sense at the time, but looking back, I keep saying, “Joel, just stop.” to the Joel of last week. Despite this, the view could not have been any better. It’s gorgeous. Photos are one thing, but being present is another. Something is very charming with the juxtapose of seeing a downtown thriving with people and life, all while standing on what the beacon of a different time period.

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All was calm, clear and beautiful.

I continue exploring about the house, going down the eerie hallway I refused to go down before. It was nice, and surprisingly, not creepy. It was calming. The sun was shining through the various window frames now busted out, and yet, it never seemed to end. It just kept going, and going, and going. Rooms split off into side rooms, and those rooms split off into bathrooms, which split off into closets, wardrobes and whatever else you can think  of. It’s a sight to see.

One of the stranger things a few of us came across was a bolted shut door that scarily resembled a door in a psychiatric hospital used to keep the crazy ones inside. I tried so hard to get a good picture with both my camera and my iPhone, but every one I took ended up being either blurry or far too bright. (And from what I can tell, no one else took a picture. Maybe next time?) Turns out, this was nothing but an elevator shaft. How cool is that?

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It wasn’t *that* bright, however.

“Guys, we need to go.”

One of the women there was more-or-less panicking, and was trying to rush everyone out. Apparently, one of us exploring had heard a firetruck pull up right in front the mansion, and it was just sitting there. No one had actually seen said firetruck, but you could most definitely the humming of an engine sitting idle. Naturally, we didn’t want to wait around for anything to happen (just like last time) and quickly headed back down through the decaying staircase to reach the basement, and pop back up in the backyard, totally hidden to the rest of the street mere yards from us.

A few of us waited around. A few of us left.

I left. I returned my car, but waited in my car to find everyone else who was deciding to either go back in or wait it out. While waiting, I looked in my rear-view mirror, eagerly expecting to see a more than a firetuck — police. But there wasn’t a firetuck, or any police, or even street cleaners.

I then realized what that humming engine was. And I laughed out loud.

A city bus. 

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We left because a city bus was parked across the street waiting to pick people up. “Ugh,” I muttered to myself, angry that we had to cut this explore short again because of something so small. Hoping the rest of the group hadn’t gone back in already, I circled the neighborhood once or twice hoping to see them walking about (so I wouldn’t have to go in by myself). Luckily, they were walking back to the front, for pictures. We had decided to go ahead and not go back inside the mansion for the day, but instead an abandoned elementary school about one minute away.

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Admittedly, this explore was much more enjoyable, despite the ending. I realized that this sort of place is something I could easily explore on my own, and it seems that there is always something new to discover, even in the small details of ceilings, staircases or whatever else. It’s a pretty special place, and now sits right behind my favorite explore yet — the Triumph Hospital in Amarillo, Texas.

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