12/16/2013 05:06 pm ET

Christian Pearson photographs Cromwell Manor, a former Australian brothel.

Cromwell Manor in Melbourne, Australia, operated as a brothel for 20 years before closing in 2012. According to artsHub, the brothel was known for its themed rooms and was abandoned “in a hurry.” In early November, Christian Pearson was commissioned by the building’s new owners—who are planning to build a youth training facility that will include a bakery, boutique coffee roastery, and catering venue—to photograph it.

When Pearson arrived at the building, he found it almost frozen in time. Cigarettes were left in ashtrays, sheets lay dormant in dryers, towels were hung up, and mints were ready on pillows. “I guess that intensified the experience because it felt like the doors could be flung open at any moment and business could resume in a heartbeat,” Pearson said via email.