Interview: Nomeus

Bullet: To start, can you tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into UE?

Nomeus: Since I was a kid I always drew and painted. In the late 90s I painted professionally on a large scale. I did murals and faux finishes for some of Central Florida’s major theme parks. I was also in California around that time and did some custom painting in Rob Zombies house with a small crew of artists. While I was in CA, my mom had upgraded her camera and she mailed me her old one. After that I pretty much forgot all about painting and just started shooting anything and everything that caught my eye. This was around 1999. I shot film until around 2005 when I bought my first digital camera, the Canon 20D, and gave up film due to cost reasons. Around that same time I was on my way somewhere and saw this big pink hotel in Ocoee, FL so I stopped to check it out. I was very intrigued and only saw a small percent of it. After that I started to realize there must be more places like that in the area so I set out to see what I could find.

Bullet: Currently 6 years running, what inspired you to start FLURBEX and future do you see for it?

Nomeus: As weird as it will sound, if it wasn’t for the sport of jai alai, I either wouldn’t have ever made FLURBEX or, it would have come much later. I used to play amateur jai alai and through that, I met someone who told me about some abandoned frontons (the building where jai alai is played) in Connecticut. I asked him how he knew of such a thing and he said “oh, abandoned buildings are all over the internet. It’s an organized thing, people get together and go in these old buildings”. If you could have seen my face when he said that…priceless. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever. People actually organizing events to go poke around in abandoned buildings, how absurd!! I used to do it as a kid and I instantly felt it was really silly and cheap to have it all over the internet and have it organized and discussed. My friend then went on to tell me about a website called www.infiltration.org. He said I could find the abandoned frontons there. I went home, spent about 10 seconds on the site, had no idea what I was looking at and forgot about it.

About 2 weeks later I went back to the site and gave it another chance. I realized that www.infiltration.org is the same site as www.uer.ca so I joined them and started posting. I made the same rookie mistake that so many people make and that is, asking for locations to explore. I was chastised and basically told to get lost. By now I had found some really cool spots in Central Florida and I explored them alone. Returning with tales of adventure just isn’t the same as having someone there with you to share the experience so I tried to find people in my area that was into urban exploring. I met some people by organizing a meet up at the old Miller plant near Big Chief hill. About 12 people showed up and we had a good time.

It was around October 2006 that I was kicking around the idea of having my own website. I came up with the name FLURBEX because it was simple and just made sense… Florida Urban Exploration. I had grown tired of the people on UER who liked to talk about exploring but never actually did anything and the others who only wanted to brag about the North East abandonments and make fun of Florida. I was inspired to prove them wrong and wanted to be around people who had the same addiction to seeing the insides of these buildings as I did and do. www.FLURBEX.com went live on the net in the fall of 2006. Since then tens of thousands of members have come and gone. Most people join out of curiosity and never post again. Some people want to try it out but for whatever reason, never do. There has always been too many people talking about doing it rather than actually doing it.

The future of FLURBEX? Hard to say! I’m sure it will be around for a long time. It is the first and only online community for Florida urbex.

Bullet: In your own words, how is the current urbex scene like in Florida?

Nomeus: Right now I would have to sadly say that the current urbex scene in Florida is pretty dead. There are pockets of people exploring here and there and even a few more that never broadcast the fact that they are exploring. When I started out, all the abandonments were just sitting waiting for us to explore them. We got all caught up with them so now we just wait for buildings to shut down. They trickle in here and there.

Bullet: What’s your favorite location that you’ve explored and why?

Nomeus: Oh man that’s a really tough question! Having been in other states exploring, there is just too much stuff to choose from. I might have to say that I cant pick one. Each location is a unique experience all onto itself. They all stand on their own and there are all kinds of priceless memories from each.

Bullet: Not mentioning the hundreds of shells and bombed out locations, what would you say was your worst experience exploring?

Nomeus: Worst exploring experience is still being down inside that rocket silo. Nightmare!!

Bullet: You’re soon coming out with a book. Care to talk a bit about it?

Nomeus: I teamed up with the guys at www.metrojacksonville.com to shoot some Jacksonville abandonments and Ennis Davis from Metro Jacksonville wanted to collaborate on a book. The book features some really neat Jax buildings and Ennis has spent a lot of time researching not only the buildings but some really great stories about the people involved. The book features building interiors shot by me and some exteriors by Daniel Herbin.

Bullet: Any future plans for your photography, ie. projects, books, videos, documentaries, etc.?

Nomeus: Not at liberty to say at this time but I will say if you’re in Jax on May 2nd 2012, stop by the main library lobby between 5pm and 8pm! Ennis and I will be there doing a book signing and I will have prints, shirts etc. for sale.

Bullet: Any final words you’d like to share?

Nomeus: Thanks for the interview and thanks to all the members, fans and those who have supported me and FLURBEX over the years.

Photo by Bullet, 2011

Kenansville School

Photo: The school looked much different back then than it does now.

Kenansville is a small community located just 12 miles north of Yeehaw Junction and 27 miles south of St. Cloud. It was given the name Kenansville after Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, the wife of Henry Morrison Flagler. In 1910, Henry Flagler made a deal with the town of “Whittier” that he would bring his railroad, the Florida East Coast Railroad, through the area to assist in their turpentine operations if they were to move to a new location and rename the town to “Kenansville”. He also made a promise that if the town’s name was changed, he would make a $10,000 contribution to build a new school.

In 1913, Henry Flagler fell down a flight of marble stairs at Whitehall, his winter residence located in Palm Beach, Florida. Never recovering from his injuries, he died two days later.

KCA School Pic '35-36
Photo: 1935-1936 class photo with the school in the background.

In 1914, Mary Lily Kenan kept the promise her late husband had made and donated five-acres of land and $6000 to the community to build a new brick schoolhouse to replace a smaller wooden school. The two-story masonry vernacular brick building was erected in 1916 by architect, A.J. MacDonough.

Classes began in 1917. At one time, the school had five teachers and went all the way through high school. Three grades were taught in each of the four rooms. For decades, the school was considered one of the state’s most outstanding rural schools. In the 1950s, one county school official stated that Kenansville pupils were “better grounded in the fundamentals of learning than most any other in the county”.

The school board voted to close the school in 1961 and it remained closed for 30 years. In 1992, the school reopened as a response to a petition signed by 140 residents. During it’s reopening, the school served students from pre-K to third grade, while older students were bused to Ross E. Jeffries Elementary and other schools in St. Cloud.

It was permanently closed down in 2003.

In 2005, the school was deeded to the Kenansville Community Association. The associated applied for the National Register of Historic Places in 2008, but were rejected due to the lack of “historic physical integrity”. It was at this time that it was decided to restore the school to it’s original historical condition.

Though a lot of progress has been done, work continues on restoring it to this day.

Photo(Bullet, 2011): Eldon Lux uses the bottom floor of the schoolhouse as a gallery, studio and classroom.

Photographer: Bullet
Year Taken: 2011
Website: Abandoned Florida

Archive Photos