Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

The couple’s first date in Denver was at an abandoned asylum

By meerna Jun12,2024

The writing was already on the wall when well-matched Denver couple Louis Inghilterra and Fletcher Petrucci first met.

They bonded over their love of exploring abandoned buildings, and last fall they decided to go on a date of sorts at an old asylum.

Despite how it may sound, the setting helped spark the romance.

“There was a big glass atrium and someone had spray-painted on the wall, ‘What if we kissed in the lobby?’ I read it from the wall, I turned around and he was ready to kiss me,” Petrucci, 22, tells PEOPLE. “We ended up kissing, but I don’t think he realized I was reading the hint off the wall!”

Fletcher Petrucci (left) with Louis Inghilterra visiting an abandoned asylum.

Fletcher Petrucci/The Decay of a Nation

After that, they continued to see each other, but only occasionally – due to the holidays and Inghilterra going home to help her mother in Pennsylvania. When Petrucci returned home to Maryland alone for Christmas, the two had the opportunity to meet up to tour various abandoned buildings in the Baltimore area.

When the two returned to Denver, Petrucci was ready to deepen their collaboration.

“We were supposed to go back to that abandoned hospital where we had our first date, so I put the flowers in my backpack, but unfortunately the plan didn’t go the way I wanted,” he says. “There were security guards there and we couldn’t get in.”

Instead, when the couple returned from visiting other buildings, Petrucci pulled out less damaged flowers and professed his love.

“We had this whole cheesy moment,” she recalls now, beaming. “And we’ve been together ever since.”

The couple met on Tinder after Petrucci, a United Airlines flight attendant and cameraman, moved from his family home in West Virginia. How he decided to move to Denver is as unexpected as meeting two people with a similar interest in decaying buildings.

Louis Inghilterra in an abandoned building.

Fletcher Petrucci/The Decay of a Nation

In an interview titled abandoned: All-American ruins podcast, Petrucci details how he met a couple on a cruise and told them he wanted to get out of West Virginia. They invited him to live with them in Denver.

On a whim, he undertook them. Petrucci quickly decided that he might want to settle in the West.

“I was looking for new friends, but I was also looking for a relationship,” he says. “When we were matching on Tinder, I saw that (Inghilterra) had a photo of him in a bathtub at an abandoned psychiatric facility. So the abandoned thing was connected from day one.”

Petrucci says he has “always been interested in the history of places” and had a grandfather, a retired park ranger, who often helped him on his adventures. He says he was a child who always wanted to explore basements and other interesting off-the-beaten-track places because he was “nosy.”

Fletcher Petrucci in an abandoned high school.

Fletcher Petrucci/The Decay of a Nation

For her part, Inghilterra’s love of abandoned buildings and antiques grew out of a childhood marked by the loss of her father at the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attack. He was only 5 years old at the time and has very little memory of his dad, who played in a band, loved music and worked for Fiduciary Trust Company International.

“I inherited a large collection of vinyl records and guitars, so I became interested in antiques at a young age because I was surrounded by my dad’s stuff,” says Inghilterra, now 25.

He grew up in the Hudson Valley in New York before going to Colorado State University in Fort Collins. After graduating, he moved to Denver last August.

Louis Inghilterra in an abandoned high school.

Fletcher Petrucci/The Decay of a Nation

Inghilterra says he dated women most of his life and only came to terms with his sexuality in college. But his friends and family are very supportive, he says.

“I had never been in a relationship before Fletcher,” he says. “I discovered I was gay about three years ago and I was just exploring gay culture. So I think it was love at first sight with Fletcher.”

And although Petrucci had to endure being teased in middle school, he says he never really tried to keep his sexuality a secret.

But being with Inghilterra is different, she says: “I feel like this is my first real relationship.”

They both say they weren’t necessarily looking for a long-term relationship when they first met, but that spark turned into something deep and real.

“At first I thought it would just be a social event where we would meet and explore (the old buildings),” Petrucci says. “I didn’t really know what I was looking for. When we talked, we had many similar interests and found it easy to talk to each other. And it turned out that this was someone I wanted to be with.”

By meerna

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