There is (was) a small, private college, once well-known and located in Lancaster, MA, called Atlantic Union College. The college lost accreditation, money, and funding. As a result, the institution layed off just about all of its staff, and stopped offering all academic offerings. Founded in 1882, the college was a Seventh Day Adventist institution. It still has a music conservatory that, strangely, offers education through the Thayer Performing Arts Center. The college is now attempting to reopen for Fall, 2012, as it is now affiliated with Washington Adventist University, with the goal of becoming one of their satellite campuses. To say things are a mess is an understatement.
Recently, as it is somewhat of a nice looking campus, and it was a great way to get out of the house, and take some photographs, I decided to “visit” the campus, and walk the public sidewalks in front of it. One of their buildings at one time was the home of Rev. Hamilton Edmund Sears, a former minister of The First Church of Christ, featured in my last blog entry. He also wrote the famed Christmas carol “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear”. So, the campus is clearly visible from the walkways and sidewalks of Lancaster, and the town was even kind enough to put up markers through its historical commission, so people can know what it is they are seeing. Seems like a perfect photographic subject.
Upon leaving, my car parked along the side of the street, I am approached by a gruff, aggressive man in an unmarked car, telling me this is private property. Which I did not violate by my little photowalk. I explained to him if there is something that can be seen from the street, or PUBLIC sidewalks, I have EVERY right to photograph it. Then he asked why I was doing so. I had to explain to him that this passion called photography is classified as a hobby. While I hardly think of my Canon Rebel G as a professional photographic tool, apparently anything ranked above a point and shoot here can get you into a confrontation. But it is possible I would not have been harassed and intimidated in such a way had I taken a more modest camera.
I wished him a good day, sarcastically, and moved on, after asking him if these folks treated all of their visitors with such warm hospitality. I also asked him if this was protocol, and suggested that maybe if they didn’t treat “visitors” with such venom, in part, their institution wouldn’t be in such shambles.
Anyways, here are the photographs. Because of this encounter, I will never revisit this area again, and just reading about, or seeing images of this sadly crumbling college, physically makes me ill. It is so sad. The war on photography, of course, wages on. Keep battling, and know your rights as a photographer. And, best of luck, Atlantic Union. You really do need it.