The Broken Windows Theory, writ large

Photos and essay by Matthew Schacht
COLUMBIA, Mo 5/7/14 (Photo Essay) -- The grass is cut.

The gutters are clean.

The porch is swept.

An empty driveway waits for a car.
This one-story house in the First Ward seems only temporarily empty, as if an owner or a renter might drive up any moment and say "Hello" to the reporter standing outside.

Peering through a dirt-smudged window, the state of things becomes clear

A house is not a home when rooms contain no furniture, when two-by-four wood studs are all that remain of walls, and when insulation pokes out of cracks, floors and ceilings like teddy-bear stuffing.

The disorder broods like an enduring mystery.  Why is the building empty?  Why has an owner allowed his or her property to fall into complete disuse? 

[Please read our EDITORIAL PREVIEW for more background.]


A new porch, but no one to use it at this
home near Hickman High.




A new metal roof over a ramshackle house years empty.   Columbia, Mo






Columbia College just bought this house on Wilkes Blvd., one of several
derelict houses that have sat for years in a row just behind the college's pristine






Click side arrows for a slideshow of Columbia's
abandoned houses

NEXT:  The Why Behind the Vacancy

Matthew Schacht is a photojournalist and former reporter for the Columbia Missourian.  This is his third photo feature for the Columbia Heart Beat.