Five Dilapidated Buildings That Were Given A New Lease On Life

Abandoned buildings come in all shapes, sizes and degree of degradation, and the sad truth is even the most beautiful, costly and architecturally amazing buildings may be abandoned over time.

Thankfully, there are plenty of historically minded people out there who don't like watching an awesome building go to waste, and with their hard work the abandoned are made into a home again.

1. Hotel Del Salto, Colombia-

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When people get a bad reputation they can turn their life around and rebuild their rep, but when a building gets a bad reputation it's often abandoned or simply torn down. 

But really lucky buildings, like the Hotel del Salto in Colombia, are brought back to life by hard working people who believe in preserving history.

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Originally called “The Mansion Of Tequendama Falls”,  the Hotel del Salto was built by architect Carlos Arturo Tapias in 1923 as a symbol of decadence, joy and elegance.

By the 1950s the mansion was due to undergo a massive overhaul and become a full fledged hotel, but work never began because the mansion had become a source of superstitious fear for the locals.

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Referred to as the Hotel del Salto, people abandoned the hotel due to water pollution and a belief that the hotel was haunted by guests who had committed suicide off the roof:

Local legend has it that the indigenous Muisca Indians used to jump from Tequendama Falls to avoid capture by Spanish conquerors, where upon falling they would transform into an eagle and fly away. This mythical story attracted the broken-hearted who leapt to their death from the hotel’s cliffs overlooking the falls.

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40 years later the hotel had been taken back by nature, with broken out windows letting in the weather and plants growing up through the carpet.

But thanks to the hard work of The Institute Of Natural Sciences of the University Of Colombia and the Ecological Farm Foundation of Porvenir the Hotel del Salto was renovated and turned into a museum.

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Now known as Casa Museo Tequendama (the Tequendama Falls Museum of Biodiversity and Culture), the ghosts of the mansion's past have been put to rest, opening up to guests once again in 2013.

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And from the look of the few photos I could find online the interior have come a long way from the days of trees and fungus growing freely through the floors!

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2. FLOWER HOUSE In Detroit, Michigan-

The blighted urban and suburban areas of Detroit, Michigan are slowly but surely returning to life, mostly due to a lot of hard work and dedication from the people proud to call Detroit home.

When artist Lisa Waud chose to restore run down houses outside Detroit in Hamtramck, Michigan with a little help from Mother Nature her work wasn't about restoring a famous building or making a name for herself- it was about helping bring her beloved city back to life, one house at a time.

But Lisa had her work cut out for her, since squatters had filled the house with trash and exposure to the elements was causing the house to literally crumble around her.

Enlisting a little help from local florists and thousands of flowers, Lisa literally brought the home back to life by filling it with flora and turning it into a wondrous, and probably great smelling, FLOWER HOUSE.

See more from the FLOWER HOUSE project here

3. Gwrych Castle, Conwy County Borough, Wales-

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Gwrych Castle has seen its share of historical events since it was erected at the behest of Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh in 1825, and even though it's seen as an important historical landmark by the Welsh people it was closed to the public in 1985.

In 1989 it was sold to a private party who let the castle fall in disrepair and ruin, as squatters and looters picked the bones of the once stately castle clean.

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But historian Mark Baker had been campaigning for Gwrych Castle to be restored to its former glory since he was twelve years old, and in 2007 his dreams began to come true when the castle was sold to Clayton Hotels, who promised to renovate the property.

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Under the supervision of the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, the Clayton Hotels company went to work turning the ruins into a luxury hotel with 75 rooms and a historical theme that runs throughout.

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But in the end I'm sure you'll agree that all the hard work was well worth it, and the Gwrych Castle is looking rather stunning these days, inside and out.

4. Szimpla Kert Ruinpub, Budapest, Hungary-

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The ruins of Budapest are being redeemed by one of the last people you'd expect- pub owners, who are bringing buildings which were slated to be demolished back to life by turning them into watering holes and local hotspots.

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Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden) was the first "ruinpub" in Budapest, leading the way for the rest with its post-apocalyptic feel and the fact that things often get out of control after dark...in a good way.

And since opening its doors in 2006 Szimpla Kert has become one of Europe's top tourist destinations, playing host to thousands of visitors each week who are looking to wet their whistle somewhere weird and wonderful.

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Budapest's ruinpubs are not only bringing these long since abandoned buildings back to life and putting them to good use- they're leaving the buildings in better shape than when they found them, thereby renewing the entire neighborhood and giving those former ruins a future.

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5. Stony Island Art Bank, Chicago, Illinois-

Chicago's South Side has a rich and colorful history, but since the media tends to focus on the South Side's dark past we don't get to hear much about the area's amazing buildings.

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The Stony Island State Savings & Loan is one of those beautiful buildings, designed by William Gibbons Uffendell and built in 1923, or at least it was beautiful until it was abandoned in the 80s.

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Artist Theaster Gates loved the look of the abandoned building, so he purchased the 20,000 square foot space for a buck ($1) from the City of Chicago and began a massive renovation with a lot of help from the Rebuild Foundation.

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Now the former savings and loan at 68th St. and Stony Island Ave. is the Stony Island Art Bank, "a platform for site-specific contemporary art commissions and exhibitions, a venue for artist and scholar residencies, and a home for Rebuild’s archives and collections."

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And with such a beautiful place in which to display their art, it's no wonder the Stony Island Art Bank is now one of the hubs of the Chicago art world.

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I wish I could find some pictures before the 1982 restoration of the 4500-seat former movie palace, the St Louis Fabulous Fox Theater. I'll have to quote an article instead: [A]n interior filled with moldy carpets, bats and pigeons, windows with bullet holes and a falling grand staircase. The theatre was in shambles ...

A single picture doesn't really do it justice though.
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