I finally made time to go see the Mountain Inn in Fayetteville, Arkansas yesterday. I'd been meaning to see this huge, abandoned hotel for close to two years now. I kept putting it off because Fayetteville's a bit of a drive for me, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to get inside the place anyway. As luck would have it, I was able to find a way in.
It took a little driving around the city to find the hotel, because I wasn't familiar with Fayetteville and the weekend traffic was really nuts. When I finally did find it, I was little disappointed to see that it sat directly next door to the courthouse, a hospital, and a big-ass federal building. Basically, this was not a good place to get caught trespassing, unless your idea of a good time is getting detained for a few hours while they make sure you're not al-Qaeda.
I ended up parking in the visitor parking of the federal building. I was a little uneasy about that, but I couldn't find a spot anywhere else. I made a quick walk around the front of the hotel, but all the entrances I saw were either boarded up or locked, not to mention in plain view of all the restaurants and businesses nearby. The hotel had its own parking garage, but I could see that some cars, probably for the buildings next door, were still using it so I passed by it as well.
There was an alley between the buildings, but all the doors back there appeared to be locked, except for one where I accidently walked into the kitchen of a restaurant. I found a stairwell nearby with an open door that led to the parking garage. I was worried about running into someone going to their car, but I wandered around anyway.
To keep other people from doing it, I won't say exactly how I got in. Suffice to say, in involved me crawling literally inside a wall through insulation until I ended up inside the hotel.
Inside, the hotel was trashed beyond anything I've ever seen. I've seen lots of abandoned buildings and places where kids like to party, but this was light years beyond any of it. It looked like someone had come through with a sledgehammer or some other blunt object and destroyed everything they could. Ceiling tiles were everywhere. Every mirrored wall and column was broken. Chairs and tables were smashed everywhere. It looked like everything that could be broken had been, and then spraypainted on top of it.
I went room to room, floor to floor after that, taking pictures of it all. Every one was the same story: trashed.
Around the second or third story, I found that there was an outdoor patio with a pool. The patio had been spraypainted worse than anything, and the pool was full of furniture, televisions, anything you could throw from the upper floors. You could see the broken windows where people had done just that. I wanted to go down into the pool and take pictures, but it was in plain sight of the federal building next door. I wasn't even able to explore the patio was much as I wanted.
I checked out the upper floors after that, taking well over a hundred pictures. About the sixth or seventh floor I found a section of roof you could walk out on, but I couldn't do it because of the federal building.
The top floor was a little different. There was smoke damage everywhere, and some of the rooms on one side had appeared to have burned. There was a spongy layer of ash on the floor and burnt mattresses and furniture. The walls were black from it all.
I found the door to the roof in the stairwell after that, but it appeared to be bolted shut from the other side. I found another section of roof on a lower floor that I could go onto without being seen, but it didn't have a ladder to the highest section of roof. I spent a little time searching for a way up, and finally found that you could get to the roof from the top floor of the adjacent parking garage. Problem was, you were in plain sight of every building nearby, including the federal building. Add to that, they'd removed the rungs on the ladder to the roof and it was going to be a rough, slow climb up and down.
I decided I'd just have to live without seeing the roof and set out to leave, figuring at this point someone had to have seen me milling around with my camera on the parking garage. Rather than risk being seen leaving the building or finding someone waiting for me, I went to a lower section of the roof, crossed to a nearby building, and opened one of the windows into what seemed to be a vacant office building. I headed downstairs, finding myself in the lobby of a couple restaurants, and casually breezed out the front door like I knew what the hell I was doing.
On the way back to my car, I didn't notice anybody, so I decided to take some pictures of the outside of the building. I headed over next to the federal building to get a better view. As I was taking pictures, I noticed a security guard coming out of the federal building, shaking his head and frowning.
Oh shit, I thought. I'm busted.
"You're on the wrong side of the street," he said, smiling as if he were a little embarassed about it. "You're not allowed to take pictures this close to the federal building anymore."
I apologized, extremely relieved that that was all he'd wanted. He pointed across the street where I could take pictures from. I thanked him, crossed the street to get the last few pictures I needed, and headed back to my car.
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