The streets of West Saginaw are bleak this time of year. This is partially the effect of the season: indifferent gray skies, cutting Michigan winds, trees still and bare.

However, the austerity of Saginaw is not just a trick of the climate. It also arises from the built landscape. The streets are lined with monumental buildings, both residential and commercial. A few of these buildings–lovely Queen Annes, big-shouldered Prairie Four-Squares, Italian villas, Kahn steel-framed office blocks–are well-kept.

Many, however, are not. They linger sadly, everywhere, in various stages of decay. Ostensibly, this is a human environment and yet, one sees so few people as one explores the neighborhoods. This is what disinvestment and economic collapse look like.

Read more from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s PreservationNation blog after the jump.