Northeast D.C.

The Final Post: Implications of Abandoned D.C.

Over the semester, we’ve chronicled a multitude of abandoned venues, from the location of the first Beatles concert to the forlorn and forgotten Embassy of Pakistan. Our goal was not only to raise awareness to the juxtaposition of decay and urban living, but to also bring to attention the rich history of the buildings themselves and the socio-economic reasons for their abandonment.

The existence of abandoned building space has several implications for marketers. This post is a culmination of our exploration of the consumer value of the buildings as well as how this topic is relevant to marketing and consumer behavior.

1. How to Raise Awareness

The existence of this blog allowed us as the creators to connect with our readers; some readers were encouraged to explore the venues that we covered, and shared their experiences with us! We encourage you wholeheartedly to explore, but you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not also educate yourself on the narrative the buildings hold. (Just be careful because as we involuntarily discovered, security guards can in fact give out trespassing citations. And fines. Who knew?)

Exploration 2

Readers venture out on their own!



2. What Happens Next?

While some of the buildings have been bought by companies with plans for redevelopment, many are left vacant. How can these buildings be utilized?

Pop-Up Stores

Trend products usually “pop-up” unannounced, draw large crowds, and then disappear as quickly as they were introduced. Thus, a retail venues that can be as temporary as the product itself are becoming increasingly common. Many of these pop-up stores establish themselves in abandoned spaces, which are bought out or rented.


A vacant parking lot is employed as a venue for a PUMA pop-up shop

3. How Is This Information Relevant To Marketers?

Abandoned spaces offer cheap advertising and marketing opportunities! Marketers can capitalize on empty window displays and blank walls.

Virtual Shop Fronts/Projection Advertising

Virtual shop fronts and projection advertising allow marketers to demonstrate to consumers how the space could be utilized. Below, a projection advertising company transformed an abandoned building in London to launch the development of its new apartment complex.

"Another Beautiful Place for Beautiful People"

“Another Beautiful Place for Beautiful People”

Hoarding/Location Highlighting/Message Awareness

Some business owners utilize open space to raise awareness about the company, spread its message, or highlight its location.

Below, an Ireland-based electric company has revitalized a neighborhood in Dublin, branding it with an “electric culture”.



Reverse Graffiti

In London, blank walls have acted as a canvas for commercial artist Moose. In contrast to the traditional form of graffiti, the artist removes grime with soap and water to expose beautiful pieces of art while advertising the GreenWorks company.

Green works


These marketing opportunities are of but few to a creative mind. Have you seen abandoned spaces utilized in a unique way? Let us know in the comments section!

To our readers, thank you for following us this semester on our journey through urban exploration. May your adventurous spirits ever wander. Cheers!


The Virginia Renaissance Faire

To add even more adventure to our blog, this time we went a little far from our designated area; we went to the Virginia’s Abandoned Renaissance Faire.





It is located Route 3, Fredericksburg, and VA US. Its location is also known as “Sherwood Forest” as the locals call it. The now abandoned Renaissance Faire was once one of the most successful renaissance fairs and people really liked it.

The land of Virginia Renaissance Faire was once owned by George Washington’s Mother, Mary Ball Washington, at the time where the Washingtons owned more than half of the DC!!

How it all started:

Renaissance Entertainment Corp purchased the land for 3 million dollars and started the faire. It started operation in 1996. And it attracted a lot of people and was very successful at the beginning. Here was how it looked like from the period 1996 – 1999:





The Faire is not your typical costumed entertainers and fairgoers or English accent; it is much more than that. It has several tents, commercial and non-commercial booths and wide array of activities, all presented in order to “relive the 16th century” and feel the old era’s atmosphere/ environment. Among the several activities that were presented are: archery, dancing, live music, dancing, acrobats, a magic show and a puppet show for the children. As for the adults there were a vast selection of liquor, non-alcoholic drinks and food.

Image Image


After becoming one of the most successful renaissances, and a huge attraction for people to visit, it became abandoned ever since 1999. For example, they made front-page news in the paper city once they opened.

Back then, they reported their mission to be: “to provide the highest quality interactive, educational, entertainment ensuring all participants (patrons, cast, crew) not only to have fun but also to come away from each event with increased knowledge”.

However, this is not the case now.  Now it is an abandoned, neglected and deserted place.


At first, when you arrive, you’ll find a forsaken, spooky ship sitting on trench, in the front of the area. There are several towers that are scattered all over the place, a bar with built in barrels, and a jousting arena. There is an old, decaying couch thrown between the towers.








Also, it can be assumed that there was someone living there, because remains of a home was found (for example, a bed and sink and a mattress)

Of course, there is graffiti and vandalism everywhere.














What actually happened after 1996?

After the first year and all the hype, the sales started declining, and it didn’t achieve the audience that the company aspired to achieve on a regular basis. Compared to the other faires, the Virginia Renaissance Faire had a lower audience volume; therefore they had low-ticket sales.

Furthermore, it was often closed because of inclement weather, which lowered ticket sales even more.

The Renaissance Entertainment Corporation was losing money, and according to the publishing of its financial statements, its biggest losses were at the Virginia Renaissance Faire.

Therefore, they decided to close the Faire in 1999.

The Faire moved to another location, which the company thought would be better than Fredericksburg; they moved to a place near Lake Anna State Park.

It re-opened in Spring 2001, and it’s been running each year ever since.


Since the relocation, it attracted more than 10,000 visitors. This is a good rise since the previous location, however, compared to other fairs, it still has a low amount of audience. For instance, the Texas Faire has more than half a million audience.

Furthermore, regarding the older location in Fredericksburg, it was sold to a company called Best Medical International of Springfield for 1.3 million.

Nevertheless, it was never used as the remains of the faire are still there.





The Rosewood Center

The Rosewood Center, located in Owings Mills, Maryland, was established in 1888 as the Asylum and Training School for the Feeble-Minded. From 1912 to 1961 it evolved into the Rosewood State Training School and in 1969 became merely the Rosewood Center. It became abandoned in 2009.

The Center began life as a special school for children between the ages of 7 and 17 but was woefully underfunded and at over-capacity. The school’s mandate was “the receiving, care, and education of all idiotic, imbecilic, and feeble-minded persons.” Boys were taught how to farm, garden, and do carpentry whilst girls were taught sewing, washing, milking, horticulture, and “domestic service.” The school was to be self-sufficient, where all the food is is grown or raised on the premises by the boys and the clothes and table linen woven by the girls. These children were also used to construct new buildings and expand the location in 1892 and 1900. The farms operated constantly until 1960.

The school suffered from even higher over-capacity when Maryland mandated all mentally ill patients at country almshouses be transferred to state institutions. The school unsuccessfully tried to expand to accommodate non-white students and epileptics. At its height in 1968, the school houses 2,700 patients.

By 1943 the school changed from housing and teaching children to accommodating physically handicapped individuals of all ages and interning people for life. By 1950 the school changed its mandate from caring and nurturing the infirm to simply housing them away from society.  The conditions at the Center sharply deteriorated from constant over-crowding and a lack of staff. In 1949, the Baltimore Sun described the Center as “Maryland’s Shame.” Thankfully by 1960 the Center’s population dropped as the focus of institutionalization shifted to rehabilitation of patients. Despite this, in 1981, the US Justice Department declared that residents at Rosewood “failed to receive minimally adequate care” and report of malpractice, neglect, and abuse were rampant. In 1989 the Center was condemned and new facilities were built across the field from the old. These new facilities housed over half of Maryland’s disabled until they, too, were closed in 2009 for good.

Because of numerous cases of arson the premises are actively patrolled by security. Be cautious if you visit as our friends got fined $50 for trespassing.


































The Washington Coliseum After the Beatles: Owners Decide to “Let It Be”

Our last post chronicled the Beatles’ 1964 arrival to the U.S.

First stop on the money-making-train: The Washington Coliseum. The Beatles went on to achieve record breaking success, but did the venue that hosted them garner as much notoriety as the Fab Four themselves?

What’s Happened Since: A Brief (But Far From Boring) History

1965: Bob Dylan plays the Washington Coliseum. The concert marked one of the first times Dylan “plugged in” and went full electric, straying from his usual acoustic set. A photo from the concert was later used as the cover for Dylan’s Greatest Hits album.

Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Album. Photo take by at Washington Coliseum.

Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Album. November 28, 1965, the Washington Coliseum. Photo credit: Rowland Scherman

1967: The Temptations play the Washington Coliseum. Rock concerts were banned at the arena after a riot broke out, leaving 5 injured and 6 arrested. Yes, a riot. At a Temptations concert. We’ll assume they didn’t always attract such a rowdy crowd.

1969: Banned concerts didn’t leave many opportunities for the owners of the venue, so in 1969 the Washington Coliseum hosted the Washington Caps, a California native basketball team relocated to the D.C. area. Unfortunately, the Caps were still classified as a Western Division team, and travel forced them to play most of their games anywhere but the Washington Coliseum.

Is anyone else noticing a trend for this poor building?

1971: The Washington Coliseum finally gets some bodies to fill its venue!                                      …As a prison. The building served as a giant temporary holding cell for 1,200 protesters of the Vietnam war.


Probably not the crowd the owners had hoped for.

After its stint as a temporary prison, the Washington Coliseum sat virtually vacant. The owners must have taken a page from the Beatles’ playbook, because they sure “let it be”. The building didn’t see much action until more than 20 years later.

1994: It can’t get worse right? Wrong. Because what’s worse than a former rockstar-hosting-venue being repurposed into a protester holding cell? Being repurposed into a trash transfer station. Glamorous.

2003: Ten years pass and the waste management company applies to demolish the Washington Coliseum. But to put a wrecking ball to the Washington Coliseum is to essentially spit in the face of music, so the D.C. Preservation League places the venue on D.C.’s  “Most Endangered Places” of the year.

2007: Fighting the man paid off! (The Beatles would be so proud.) The Washington Coliseum is added to the National Register of Historic Places.

It seems that the Washington Coliseum followed the same trajectory as the Beatles, burning bright on limited time. The owners weren’t pals with Yoko Ono were they….

But this story ending is a happy one. In 2013, Douglas Development acquired the Washington Coliseum in hopes of restoring its historic structure into a mixed-use property with retail and office spaces. Stay tuned for updates!



The Washington Coliseum: The Day Beatlemania Invaded America

A 5 minute walk from the NoMa – Gallaudet U metro station will lead you to an unassuming brick building in an obscure area of D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood. However, unknown to most visitors that walk past (unless your knowledge of oldies band history is impeccable), this year marked the 50th anniversary of an event that altered American pop music history as we know it: the Beatles’ first U.S. concert.

What Is It: The Washington Coliseum, formerly known as the Uline Arena

Where Is It: 1140 3rd Street NE, Washington, DC 20002

The Washington Coliseum today

The Washington Coliseum today.

What Happened Here: We’ll assume you haven’t lived under a rock for the past 60 years and have atleast the most basic knowledge of the British pop band that ruled the music world for a couple of decades. The “four lads from Liverpool”  became immensely popular in England in the early 1960s. The Beatles were the first British band to permeate the American music scene, bringing their iconic sound (and panty dropping accents) into living rooms throughout America. The Beatles’ were met with fan pandemonium unparalleled by previous bands; a typical band outing was surrounded by unbearably high-pitched screams, and female fans regularly fainted from excitement.

Fans "greet" the Beatles as they arrive to D.C. by train.

Beatlemania in full effect as the Beatles arrive to D.C. by train.

Yes, you read that right, the Beatles packed such a punch that they caused mass fainting. We have that effect on people too.

The brand new 8,000 seat venue sold out within days, without having hosted a single major event to its name. Tickets were sold for $4. Oh, the days before TicketMaster and service fees.

Ticket for the Beatles February 11, 1964 sold out concert

Ticket for the Beatles February 11, 1964 sold out concert

The Beatles took the stage at 8:31 P.M. on February 11, 1964.

The Sold Out Uline Arena, February 11, 1964

The Sold Out Uline Arena, February 11, 1964

The band played a 12 song setlist, opening their U.S. debut with “Roll Over Beethoven”. In regards to the song choice, Paul McCartney, arguably a fan favorite (and arguably still kicking in the land of the living), said:

Opening with “Roll Over Beethoven” wasn’t a statement. Every time we did shows, we did the same as I do now: You just feel the climate; you put your finger in the air and whichever side goes cold is the way the wind’s blowin’. We didn’t plan those things. It was just: “Let’s start with George doing ‘Roll Over Beethoven.’ It’s rockin’.” In retrospect, I should be telling [that] it was a calculated move to show the world of classical music that it was time they rolled over and made way for the delightful young sound that’s going to take over.

They. Didn’t. Even. Plan. An. Opener.

In today’s era of autotune and infamously terrible lip-synching, such a thing is unheard of. We can’t decide if the Beatles’ method was an act of naivety or a stroke of genius. It doesn’t really sound like they know, either. True to form back home in the land of the Brits, fan hysteria ensued. Albert Mayles, a documentary filmmaker and concert attendee, described the anarchy:

 I never was a screamer. It was all about the music for me. The concert started with some warm-up groups, and I was relieved because I had heard about the screaming that went on in England. And I thought: Nobody’s screaming. This is going to be nice; we’re going to be able to hear them. (Laughs.) When they started playing, you couldn’t hear a thing. It was unbelievably loud, like white noise. I remember the policeman near me stuck bullets in his ears.

The Beatles play their first U.S. concert to the sold out Uline Arena.

The Beatles play their first U.S. concert to the sold out Uline Arena.

Watch video footage of the concert here:

Safe to say it was a successful U.S. introduction, no?

Want to find out what’s happened to the Uline Arena post Beatles era? Stay tuned for Thursdays post!

Peace, Love & Rock ‘n Roll,