Franklin County, NC - Michelle Bowers is the force behind Abandoned Homes of North Carolina with more than 37,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook combined.
She’s created a unique following of people looking for the nostalgic part of our state.
“It’s crazy to walk in and you’ll see old letters from 1920's, like personal letters and old family photos it makes the entry even more because your thinking why were they left here," Bowers said.
Michelle Bowers says she has been interested in old houses since she was a child but she started photographing the homes a few years ago. She created the Facebook page in April 2014 to help mourn her own loss.
“I started the Facebook page because my sister died unexpectedly in 2013 and so the one year anniversary of her death I thought I need something to help with this grieving, some kind of a hobby.”
Sometimes she helps her own followers reconnect with their history. On one adventure Bowers found an old church ledger where someone was hand recording church tithings dated back to the 1930's. She posted photos on her Facebook page and a genealogists reached out to her and a year later a family member contacted her.
“I drove to Pittsboro for her and her mother but the lady that was doing the hand recording of the tidings it was her great-great grandmother that she hadn’t seen in a good 20 years," Bowers said.
Bowers says she will hit the road in search of an abandoned home a couple times a week.
“Sometimes my kids will go with me and we’ll pull up to a stop light or intersection and I’ll say, 'Left or right?' So they pick which way we go," Bowers said.
Since her photos took off on social media she will get tips about old houses and people will send her photos.
Bowers has done a few ghost tours involving her Facebook fans. They've toured an old funeral home and an old civil war hospital. She says they have heard from those who passed away.
“You can hear a little girl humming or singing and then there was another room downstairs where you could hear an old ladies voice commenting to something," Bowers said.
Bowers says a lot of times the homes are inherited after a death in the family, but some families can't tend to them,
"Some heirs to the home live out of state and that's why the houses fall into disrepair," she said.
Bowers has explored around 400 homes and taken 1,000 photos.
Bowers said her favorite house is an abandoned Rockefeller mansion out in Spring Lake on military property. It was used as the Rockefeller's Thanksgiving retreat.
"A lot of people have no clue it exists, by far my favorite exploration," Bowers said.
Bowers doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
“I look at it as preserving history as long as the houses are still here, I enjoy doing it," Bowers said.