A photographer has provided an eerie inside look at an abandoned New Jersey funeral home.
Ben James has given his followers on Instagram and TikTok a glimpse inside an abandoned funeral home that comes with some scary local folklore.
In 2018, using census data, NJ.com estimated that New Jersey was home to as many as 391,428 vacant housing units, with the highest concentration found in Newark.
The damaging effect vacant properties can have on the economic health of a region was highlighted in a report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
It identified how these empty units can have a hugely negative impact in terms of deterring investment, harming neighborhoods and reducing property value.
Yet to a certain subsection of society, these properties offer a chance at something thrilling and fascinating in equal measure: exploration.
Abandoned places have become a source of huge interest to a subsection of the online community, with videos and photographs of the spaces regularly shared on social media.
In the past, followers have been taken inside haunting abandoned schools and vacant New York mansions with mysterious “lamp rooms.”
James told Newsweek he has had a fascination with vacant spaces from a young age. “I found an abandoned house when I was around 7 or 8.
The local story was that it belonged to a doctor whose family died and he went mad, and still lived there,” he said.
“I used to sneak in at night for dares. Looking back, I’m sure it was just a normal house but that’s what got me into it.”
This particular New Jersey funeral home comes with its own legend, which James said was shared with him by a local neighbor.
According to his video, locals claim the previous owner was seen leaving in the dead of night saying “the souls had come to take him straight to hell.” It is said that he never returned.
While this backstory should obviously be taken with a pinch of salt, James’ photographs from inside the funeral home are certainly enough to send a shiver down the spine.
During his visit, he came across cremated remains, or cremains as they are known, as well as gravestones, a discarded eulogy and the funeral home’s dust-covered hearse. Blood is also visible inside the property along with embalming tools.
James had read about this particular funeral home online, but was desperate to see it in person. “Funeral homes are my favorite thing to explore,” he said. “It’s the fact that they’re so morbid and hardly anyone will see them.”
James was blown away by what he discovered in this instance. “The hearse was amazing, as were human cremains left behind and the embalming tools laid out on the side as if ready for the next cadaver.”
Though that might sound like something out of a horror movie, James isn’t especially scared about exploring spaces of this kind. Well, not too scared, at least.
“The dead can’t harm you, but these places do feel sinister,” he said. “You just have to remember there is no such thing as ghosts and demons and these people were already deceased when they arrived.”
Though it may not suit everyone, James loves exploring spaces of this kind and would encourage others to do the same, albeit while remembering his golden rule. “Be respectful of places,” he said. “Don’t damage or take things. It ruins it for others.”