Read Time 4 Minutes
Leland Kent, the author & photographer behind the Abandoned Southeast blog, is gearing up to release his sixth book through Arcadia Publishing, entitled Abandoned Alabama: Exploring the Heart of Dixie. We caught up with Leland to learn more about his upcoming book & what he has planned next!
Want to read Abandoned Alabama: Exploring the Heart of Dixie? Visit Abandoned Southeast or Amazon to pre-order your copy!
If you love learning about oft-forgotten areas in the Southeast, you’re likely familiar with the Abandoned Southeast blog. Launched in 2016, Abandoned Southeast is the work of Leland Kent, a Birmingham native, author and photographer. According to Leland, his fascination with abandoned and forgotten places inspired him to document his travels on his blog—and eventually, through several published books!
To date, Kent has published five books under Arcadia Publishing:
Abandoned Birmingham, Abandoned Georgia: Exploring the Peach State, Abandoned Georgia: Traveling the Backroads, Abandoned New Orleans, Abandoned North Florida.
On October 25th, Leland Kent will be releasing his 6th book, Abandoned Alabama: Exploring the Heart of Dixie. The 96-page paperback book contains 140 color photos from 11 locations across Alabama, including several right here in Birmingham.
We sat down with Leland Kent to learn more about his upcoming book!
Leland: “I started taking photos around 2013. At the time, it was something I did with friends. I didn’t get serious about it until 2016 when I started the Abandoned Southeast blog. I started learning about the places I was exploring, spending hours researching the history of each address.”
Leland: “A lot of the places I find just by traveling and exploring backroads. In rural areas, you’ll have better luck finding abandoned places. When I’m in the city, I’ll try to look for abandoned places in historic districts—that’s where the oldest homes will be. If it looks abandoned, I’ll stop and check the meter to see if the house has power. If not, that’s a good sign that it’s abandoned.
At home, I’ll look up the history of the building or house. What did the owners do? What was their daily life like? Then, when I’m in the house, I’ll try to photograph examples of their daily life. Beyond that, I try to photograph the building’s architecture. I love to photograph staircases in old homes—they’re always unique because most of them are hand-built. To me, it’s an ode to the craftsmanship of a place—you can get an idea of the house itself just based on the staircase.”
Leland: “It’s kind of two-sided! I love exploring the abandoned buildings, which isn’t possible when they’re renovated. But on the other hand, it’s great to see these buildings receive new life. I’ve photographed all four buildings in the Heaviest Corner on Earth, and all four have been vacant at one point.
However, a lot of the renovations don’t take the historic aspect into account. For example, when the Empire Building—now the Elyton Hotel—was renovated, the original 1909 doorknobs were removed. Now, they’re gone for good. But it’s good to see that building have a new lease on life.
I left Birmingham in 2014, and since then the city has seen a lot of positive growth. I’d love to see that growth come to parts of Birmingham that have been neglected, like Ensley.”
Leland: “My favorite building in Birmingham has to be the Prince Hall Masonic Temple downtown. Even in disrepair, the building is so beautiful inside and out. The grand hall, with its blue & white decor, is just stunning.”
Leland: “Now that I’ve published six paperback books, I’d like to do something bigger—a coffee table-type book that focuses more on the photography aspect of my work. I have several of my photos on permanent display at the new Valley Hotel in Homewood, which is very cool!”
Want to read Leland’s latest work? You can pre-order your copy of Abandoned Alabama: Exploring the Heart of Dixie on Abandoned Southeast‘s website or Amazon!
Want to stay up to date on Leland Kent’s latest projects? Be sure to follow Abandoned Southeast’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest!
Read Time 4 Minutes