Paris Road Laundromat
I made this photograph in August or September of 2002, when this beautifully adorned structure on the corner of Paris and Mt. Vernon was officially decommissioned and closed. Like so many things in Columbia, this was a building that I passed by on a regular basis, always admiring the signage and the character of the building, but never stopping to make a photograph. When I learned that the Paris Laundromat was going to be closed, I made a determined effort to document the structure, and all of its glorious signage, before it was permanently changed.
This photograph was taken with black and white film, using a tripod, while standing in the middle of Mt. Vernon…fortunately Mt. Vernon doesn’t get a lot of traffic at this time of night. It looks like I was using a 35mm manual focus lens, and I stayed for a while to get multiple views of the building. For those of you who might have seen this image before, I have posted it to Facebook, and when I did so I had so many people post personal memories and recollections of coming here to do their laundry, or to study while their laundry dried, or to drink beer while their laundry dried…this corner laundry was apparently a community hub in this northeast Columbia neighborhood.
My approach to making this image was a little less artistic than some of my previous work and was closer to the documentary approach taken by American photographer Walker Evans. I was more concerned about documenting the structure and everything it had to advertise and was less interested in making a fine art piece. Of the many views of our city that I have photographed since starting back in 1996, this is one of the views that I am happiest to have preserved. A week later the business was closed, the doors were locked, and the signs were being removed or painted over.