Photography is Not a Crime

Wheeler-Knight House

Photography is not a crime.

Photography is not a crime.

This photograph depicts the Wheeler-Knight House, taken from the shoulder along the National Road west of Brownsville, Pennsylvania.

Wheeler-Knight House

On March 29, 1839, Jonathan Knight purchased 173 acres in what is now Centerville Borough in Fayette County. Knight served in both houses of the state legislature and was a member of the United States Congress. He was also a surveyor in this section of the county and a civil engineer. Knight served as a Commissioner on the National Pike in the 1820’s – and laid out two towns: Beallsville and Scenery Hill. Knightstown, Indiana, was named in his honor.

He married in 1809 to Ann Heston of the Westland Quaker Church. His grandson, John Henry Knight, served as a member of the Centerville Borough Council in 1896.

The house was later owned by Oliver Taylor, William Pepper, and S. Coletti.

I want to say this photo was taken without incident, but while we were photographing this Second Empire residence from the highway shoulder, a very crude woman came out of a hair salon across the street. After she exchanged some words with us, she went back inside. We continued to photograph the house from the shoulder, careful to not trespass when we heard a gunshot from a pistol.

We walked back to the vehicle and called for the police who took down our information and questioned the woman.

Folks, photography is not a crime. And I’ve had to remove some disturbing posts that were advocating for my harm. This house is very much visible from the highway, and there is a clear shoulder to pull off on – and a wide enough shoulder to walk down and photograph the house from. Are we now so paranoid that photographers can’t even shoot historic residences without being shot, spit upon, or cursed at?

The state police noted we were well within our rights to photograph the house and encouraged future visits. I did not expect this post to go viral, but it’s now made headlines in local media.

Stand up for what you believe in. Photography is not a crime.

13 Comments

  1. I love those old deserted houses in PA. Your photos may be the only thing that keeps their images alive even when they have been turn down. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thankfully the loon didn’t hurt anyone, but I do hope you will go back and find a way to get permission to enter the property. This building is an amazing structure I’d love to see more of.

  3. I grew up in Centerville, was always fascinated with that place. Who is the hairdresser? There were always a couple strange ones out in that area. I’ve seen pictures of the inside and the woodwork is terrific, would like to see the inside myself some day.

  4. You need to respect that what you are photographibng is not your property and doesn’t belong to you. Therefore, if the owner of the property does not want you to photograph it, for any reason (if you you don’t agree with it), then you should not take photographs. You should put away your camera and leave. You are not more important that the owner of the property. Your photographs are not more important. Your purpose is not more important. Please don’t put yourself above or ahead of anyone else. Also, remember that in many cases you may be trespassing onto property you don’t own. If you obtain permission, fine. But if you don’t, remember that you are breaking the law and that the ends do not justify the means.

    1. Incorrect. Photographing property from public right-of-way is not trespassing and is not breaking the law. You should, at the very least, read the article and catch up on any applicable laws before posting anonymously (which isn’t so anonymous with the IP address I collect).

    2. Geez, be quiet! I’m so glad people like this guy take pictures of abandoned old houses. They’re historical and provide a good insight into history. It’s entertaining and educational to view these old houses that are left abandoned because one day, they’ll probably be torn down and than we won’t have squat! It’s good people like this fellow who help preserve history. Once you have the photos/videos, especially in today’s day and age, they will never go away…therefore we have documented what these places looked like and the historical nature behind them. It’s educational too, very educational and it’s a good thing, as long as the person doesn’t mess anything up, which this guy didn’t, than that’s awesome! I give him and other’s like him a ton of credit for photographing pieces of history that one day will be torn down by Corporate America so an ugly mini mall can be built. And woo, you have a problem with this guy, but if some big Corporate America giant like Google comes along and photos it, like they do, you’re okay and close minded about it. Get laid man, get a life you dumb buttwipe!!!

  5. Welllll.. she’s my hairdresser. Lol. So I can tell you she’s a little wacko. She thinks she owns the house. Any place near her salon she believes is hers. Chuck Wagon Restaurant, for example, is down the street about 100 feet from all this. They expanded their parking lot, and she was trying to sue because she thought they were plowing on her property.

    1. Welllll.. she’s my hairdresser. Lol. So I can tell you she’s a little wacko. She thinks she owns the house. Any place near her salon she believes is hers. Chuck Wagon Restaurant, for example, is down the street about 100 feet from all this. They expanded their parking lot, and she was trying to sue because she thought they were plowing on her property. Also, Centerville Borough is located in Washington County, not Fayette. 🙂

  6. Thats Crazy! i also document and photograph abandoned places. Have never encountered anything like this. We are usually doing urban places like Detroit and Gary and get asked questions but the people are very supportive and like that we are documenting. I cannot imagine what the people you encountered were thinking and why they were so angry. Keep on doing your thing!! Stay Safe

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