Seeking the forgotten

  • Michael Petipas holds up his book “Abandoned New Hampshire.” Courtesy of Michael Petipas

  • A passenger train car in Bartlett near the Conway Scenic Railway. Courtesy of Michael Petipas

  • An old train sits on tracks to nowhere in Bartlett.  Courtesy of Michael Petipas

  • Seating for movie theatre No. 5 at the Colonial Theatre in Laconia. MPETIPASPHOTO—Courtesy of Michael Petipas

  • The doors that separate the first and second passenger cars of a train in Bartlett near the Conway Scenic Railway. Courtesy of Michael Petipas

  • The original stage of the Colonial Theatre in Laconia. The artwork and golf leaf is unbelievably preserved for its age, most likely due to being covered up during the many renovations that took place over the years. Courtesy of Michael Petipas

  • In North Conway, this was a collapsed outbuilding near the main part of the Redstone Quarry and contained the remains of old engines and some sort of pulley system. MPETIPASPHOTO—Courtesy of Michael Petipas

  • One of two lathes used in turning and polishing granite mined from the Redstone Quarry in North Conway, near the base of Rattlesnake Mountain. Courtesy of Michael Petipas

Monitor staff
Published: 7/12/2019 5:34:50 PM
Modified: 7/12/2019 5:34:39 PM

The beauty of New Hampshire surrounds its residents and tourists, so it can be easy to forget about the homes and buildings that no longer thrive. In his new book, Abandoned New Hampshire, Michael Petipas captures what is left of New Hampshire’s forgotten history.

In his first book, Petipas captures photographs to tell New Hampshire’s rich history.

Petipas has always had a love for photography. Since his grandfather was a professional photographer in Boston, Petipas was behind the camera at a young age.

With countless breathtaking places in New Hampshire, Petipas tries to capture them all. His curiosity for discovering forgotten places and passion for photography are what drove the completion of his first book.

“Who doesn’t drive by an old factory or mill or closed-up house and wonder what’s inside of it?” Petipas said.

Suggested by his friend Lisa Robinson for the project, Petipas could not resist the opportunity to photograph and write his own book.

“I was already rummaging around and exploring things anyway, so why not take pictures of it?” he said.

Petipas ventured all across the state to photograph familiar abandoned structures, and also rediscovered forgotten places along the way.

Because of the poor condition of the abandoned buildings and houses, the perfect lighting and composition weren’t always there for the ideal shot. This didn’t stop Petipas from capturing stunning photographs.

“You have to find beauty in the wreckage and rubble,” he said.

Petipas’s curiosity and passion for shooting abandoned places grew stronger. It was hard for Petipas not to become addicted to capturing these photos since there was always new information to learn and endless places to discover.

With the history of most of the buildings easily accessible, there were some places that remain complete mysteries.

“You don’t know what happened, why some people just got up and left one day,” he said. “You try to imagine a story and talk about that.”

People that do know the history of these buildings or have personal connections were able to share with Petipas so he could complete his book.

When shooting the exterior of the L. W. Packard Mill in Ashland, there was a generous bystander observing. Luckily for Petipas, the gentleman had a key and let him inside to shoot the mill.

“It’s amazing, people are so receptive to what I am doing and so willing to help,” Petipas said.

Out of all of the locations he shot, his favorite was the Colonial Theater in Laconia. Having grown up in Gilford, the theater was a place he would spend a lot of time as a kid.

“It held a special place in my heart,” he said.

Petipas was amazed to see that theater remained the same, as did his joyful memories from his childhood.

With his desire to show the world the beauty in the forgotten, Petipas will not stop with New Hampshire. He is currently working on shooting in Maine and eventually Vermont for his next Abandoned projects. Petipas might even shoot abandoned trains someday, he said.

Petipas will continue to follow his passion in order to make sure the stories, memories, and beauty of abandoned places are remembered forever.

Abandoned New Hampshire was released on July 8.

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