• Mike

Urban exploring in Rock Rapids.




It's not very often that you can do urban exploration legally. Most people who are into exploring old buildings do so illegally. I've been a member of a website called the Urban Exploration Resource for over a decade and have photographed quite a few sites around here over the years. I've even photographed a few farms that no longer exist.


Last week I had the chance to explore the upstairs of the historic building in Rock Rapids located at the corner of Story Street and Main. This large building sits across Story st. from the Frontier Bank, and across Main from the Rexall drug store. The bottom floor of the building houses Rosie's "sit-a-minute" coffee shop.


The chance to visit such a site was made even more interesting by the fact that the upstairs where we were photographing hadn't been touched since the 70s. The Grooter family owns the building and the business downstairs. They plan to renovate the upstairs into a sprawling living space for their family and this is the last chance to photograph the upstairs the way it has sat since the 1970s before it gets entirely gutted.




Power wasn't available in any form upstairs besides an extension cord. Thankfully the combination of natural light through the bare windows, our battery powered lights, and a single LED powered flood light was all we used.



Several ancient appliances sit in the rooms. They are relics of at least 50 years gone by, well preserved as the roof never leaked. Mold wasn't visible anywhere, and it was a great series of shots that seemed to just unfold in front of us as we walked up to doorways.



The beautiful and grungy scenes are devoid of vandalism. They are as clean as could be expected after such a long time.

This isn't something I take photographing lightly. This is history that will be preserved through image form. There is so much good craftsmanship visible in these photos.



The natural light on a cloudy day created some exquisite diffused shadows.


Originally a JC Penney, the upstairs of this building was renovated into a combination of apartments and offices. This is probably a big part of why these walls are in such great condition. According to Scott Van Aartsen, JC Penney owned the building from the 1920s until 1983 when it closed.

The rubble creates some amazing shadows and texture on the ground. I love how we never had to remove any trash. It's a space untouched for a very long time. It's sort of haunting.

Don't think of this place as "creepy," It wasn't. It was more a place for the spirit of Rock Rapids to dwell and reflect on a time gone by.

For a time Lyon Appliance & Electronics ran a Radio Shack out of this building. The upstairs offices seen along this hallway were owned by Sneider Insurance.




As you can see here the front windows look out across Main Street and offer a great view across the road to the drug store.


The hardwood floors are in beautiful condition for their age.


Looking down main street at the bank and Rapid Theater building.




On behalf of us at Magna Images I'd like to thank the Grooters for inviting us to photograph this place. It was beautiful. I'd also like to thank the members of the "You might be from Rock Rapids if...." Facebook page for helping provide historical information.


If you'd like to buy any of these photos you can contact us.

878 views