There are few pieces tackling the subject of abandonment in the Rust Belt that are more personal than D. Jones’s film 631. In less than ten minutes, we get the story of the life and death of a house in Youngstown. More importantly, 631 accomplishes the rarest of things: it gives us the back-story for what would be just one more forgotten derelict home.
Old film footage and stills convey the central importance of this house in the lives of Derrick’s grandparents, mother, and himself. Joyce Jenkins, Derrick’s mother, does much of the narration. The house came to her as a young mother and she was forced to leave it as a middle-aged woman.
Recently, Joyce returned with me to 631 Ridge Road. In what might be her last visit there, she shared several stories of the lives of those who walked through its nowdark and silent rooms.
631 Ridge is nearly gone, lost under a green blanket of trees and foliage, yet it is not alone. Ridge Road itself, and most of the lower south side of the city, is vanishing. Entire fields now grow where tightly packed single-family homes once stood.
If you haven’t already, please follow the link to Derrick’s film.