Secrets reveal the truth behind this abandoned NY mansion
Not far from bustling New York City, there lies a house with a secret, a 57-room mansion, that was hastily abandoned 40 years ago. The previous owner was an eccentric that was known to buy mansions, then leave them behind for good, leaving a trail of his life behind. If these walls could talk, what would they say? Thanks to a photographer who entered the creepy house and lived to tell the tale, we know the answer.
The mystery behind the abandoned mansion
This classic mansion on the outskirts of New York City looks innocent enough, but behind it’s walls there are secrets that have been kept for decades. Since 1976, despite being located in one of the most densely populated boroughs of New York City, the mansion has been locked up, and abandoned.
The relics of what remains are remnants of a whimsical owner who loved to buy mansions but grew bored easily. Now, 57 rooms, some lived in, some not, some moved in, while others are empty, and each has been waiting for 40 years to be found. Thanks to photographer Brian Sansivero, who braved the abandoned halls, we have a window inside.
Can anyone say ‘creepy?’
When Sansivero stepped into the stale air of the mansion, he had no idea what to expect. On the top of his list of things he didn’t expect were creepy looking dolls with their necks twisted in an unnatural position. Perhaps if he was scared enough, he maybe even saw them blink.
There’s something unsettling about being confronted with dilapidated dolls in an otherwise empty house. Dusty, ashen faces look like they’ve been blasted in the face with dirt, but in reality, it was the children of the manor, and time that left them in this dirty, decrepit state, and their not the only things that can be characterized that way.
There’s some irony in this photograph
This 15-inch bubble TV is one of many in the house, and given that the owner abandoned the mansion in 1976, it’s no wonder there are more TVs. The era of “TV in every room” came about in the 1950s when the TV dinner and TV in the dining room were commonplace.
This shouldn’t be characterized as a TV in the dining room, as it appears that this TV sits atop one of three chairs/desks, the likes of which we saw in elementary school. This photo evokes feelings of days counting down the seconds to recess, yet the TV betrays the scene, as the boob tube ensures no learning took place in this room.
The sound of music, and silence
It seems impossible that a home of this size would be left completely untouched for 40 years without some squatter parking their butt. Perhaps there was someone, or many, that passed through, and random graffiti on the wall attests to that.
As for the piano, it’s one of at least two in the ballroom of the mansion. Who would move out of their home without taking their grand piano? But since there were two in the ballroom we can assume the owner wasn’t lacking in wealth. That, and the fact that they bounce around from mansion to mansion leaving valuables behind as they go.
The remains of decay
Here we have another room, and in this case, it looks like a wonderful place to relax and settle into a good book. The chairs flank the fireplace offering the King and Queen of this castle a warm and cozy nook, but today, there’s nothing relaxing about a room that’s falling apart from ceiling to floor.
Humid New York summers must’ve infiltrated the house as wall paper is coming apart all over the place. The mirror at the right gives an idea of how large this room is, and if anyone were to try and restore this money pit they might want to start with this room.
Valley of the Dolls
This playroom has certainly fared better than the reading room, as the wallpaper is not only intact but if weren’t so hideous, we might think that it was brand new. But then a look at the toys, which are predominantly dolls, and the vibes of creepiness crawl back into our veins.
The painting above the fireplace is both fitting and telling. It must be the little girl that held court in this playroom, and her placement at the top-middle, for all to see portrays her as the queen of the valley of the dolls. At least there’s an electric keyboard and some books, but this child was definitely playing in luxury.
Music in the air
Music was certainly a priority for the family that lived in this abandoned mansion, and maybe because they lived in an era without iphones and cloud entertainment. Your Spotify app will play just about whatever you ask, but back in the day you either used a record player or created your own music.
This house has everything from multiple grand pianos to smaller keyboards, an organ playing device, and even an accordion. Here we see what looks like speakers and a record player, and perhaps even one of those boxes is an amplifier for the previous occupants to produce electric music of their own.
Underscores and organs
Here we have some more graffiti, and this time it looks like a couple of names have been painted. “Kevin” appears to have been painted over, but “Nic_swag” is definitely still around. We’re gonna go ahead an guess that’s relatively new graffiti because before email, did anyone ever use an underscore?
The musical instrument in the middle looks more like the desk of an accountant who lost his mind, but it’s actually an old organ player. You can see the similar traits to a piano, with peddles and keys to press, but the keys for this instrument are arranged in a far different manner.
Beauty and the Beast
Every day for 40 years, the sun rose and fell, and turned these empty halls from light to dark. And all the while, we assume that some beautiful pieces of furniture, some antique, and others modern (well, modern when they were purchased), have sat still while the earth keeps on turning.
If the endless amounts of music that were played within the walls of the mansion still echo through the ages then perhaps this piece of furniture danced in the hall like it was straight out of Beauty and the Beast. After all, it does sit at the outer edge of the ballroom we visited earlier, grand piano and all.
The chandelier in the ballroom
Speaking of the ballroom, here we are back inside, with a look at a different view of the room. Two large… make those extremely large rugs, show the breadth of the room, as we can imagine hundreds of people (or pieces of furniture) dancing to the song of the piano man.
The crystal chandelier is a relic of decadence, and when the lights shined through the faux candles on the perimeter, the light would’ve danced around inside the chandelier like the lively souls beneath it. And if anyone wanted to just hang out, there are more chairs by the fireplace to rest their feet.
When we mentioned earlier that this house was abandoned during the era of “TV in every room,” we weren’t kidding. The TV on the right (don’t miss the one tucked away on the left), is on a wheeled cart, meaning it was meant to follow the viewer into the next room, or however long the cord could stretch.
There’s no shortage of electronic equipment in the room, and here we have the same chair-next-to-fireplace configuration. We also have another batch of graffiti, and this time the perpetrator targeted something more valuable than the wall, as that ship in the painting is probably close to sinking after being tagged.
Baby carriage + Stairs = Disaster!
It’s hard to call this staircase winding, as it looks more like our mind is bending when looking at it. While it looks like this staircase that belongs in an M. C. Escher drawing is to the main hall, it’s just one of many staircases in the entirety of the mansion.
Here we see a baby stroller at the base of the stairs too, and to the keen observer, you’ll notice that you’ve seen this stroller before. It was commandeered by the photographer (we can only surmise that he didn’t actually ride in it), and placed in the photo. That’s the same chandelier like the one in the ballroom too, but we’re pretty sure the photographer didn’t move that one.
What’s in the bathroom?
Is it just us, or is that toilet seat warped? It’s either that, or it’s limped into the Beauty and the Beast world and is side talking to the sink. Whether we caught the toilet in action talking or not, we’ll never know, but what we do know is that it’s odd that the owners left everything on this one wall.
We can understand why they left the plant behind (is that cactus still alive?), but that work of art over the toilet, how could they have left that behind? It looks like a windshield wiper revealed a mixed bag of checkers and hysteria, just like the room, which is a mixed bag of old and ugly.
The day the flowers died
If we had met this room while it was in perfect order, the fake flowers would’ve made us feel warm and right at home. Instead, it looks like an angry florist came through with a machine gun that uses flower petals for bullets, and grenades that explode into rose peddles.
The golden cases look very lavish and expensive, and yet the matching pair was left behind. We can imagine that photographs and perhaps artifacts of old and family heirlooms used to adorn the space behind the glass. Now it looks like a scene out of a romance movie gone bad.
Here we are back in the ballroom finally able to see the grandiosity of this giant room. Again, fake plants are included over the windows to liven up the room, meaning fake flowers were a staple of the previous occupants. Not that the mansion is abandoned, they look like the only thing close to being alive (the furniture is a distant second).
The giant teddy bear in the back is certainly a matter of concern, as we’ve visited the ballroom three times now and this is the first time we’re seeing him. Maybe he’s a vegetarian and snacks on the fake plants, but then again perhaps he’s real, and he’s coming right for you!
Farther down the hall, away from the ballroom, we can see that the mansion was actually very much a work in progress when it was abandoned. But with an owner who had a habit of leaving behind mansions before moving onto another one, we can imagine that all of their mansions were left unfinished.
All of the drops cloths around and the latter make it look the owners were up to some kind of home improvement, but that presents a paradox. What’s the value of increasing the value of your home when you never put it on the market?! What’s the point of an upgrade if you don’t live there?! Perplexing indeed.
You can find me in the study
This is an image of a study most of us could get used to. Floor to ceiling wood partitioned with the same color molding gives a rich look, like a graduate library at Cambridge. We can imagine that this room used to have a lot more books and accouterments, and hopefully some better artwork.
At least a few books and the bad art are still around, otherwise, it would just be the graffiti on the walls and the 50-year-old furniture. Seriously though, if you were squatting, wouldn’t this be the room? If no other reason, it seems to be the most isolated from the hordes of dolls in the house.
If you’re not scared, you’re not human
Photographer Brian Sansivero was probably having a grand ‘ole time taking pictures inside the abandoned mansion until he meets the queen of the dolls. Her glass eyes keep staring at the windows of your soul, and she’s as unflinching as a rolling rock down a hill.
Fortunately, we can’t see the puddle that was formed underneath Sansivero when he encountered this doll, but unfortunately, we’ll never get this creepy image out of our brains. The sad thing is, this is a children’s toy, until the thought of it being animated infiltrates your mind, then gets up, and jumps out of the picture!
Look what the wind blew in
Don’t be too concerned about the horse toy at the center, as it was likely placed there by the photographer (the same horse was visible in the toy room). However, what is concerning is the inch thick layer of snow that has blown through the open window.
Perhaps this is the way transients were able to gain access to the abandoned mansion, and with this kind of weather coming through the window, it’s a wonder the house isn’t more damaged. It looks like there are footprints too, and we can only hope they’re Sansivero’s because otherwise, they could belong to anyone, including someone right behind you.
The indoor tennis courts
Here we find ourselves in the biggest room in the house: the indoor tennis courts. This must’ve been one awesome place to swing the racket back in the day, as reports indicate that the glass-made ceiling was retractable. But since those days, it looks like a war was fought between transients and hoarders.
The most striking part of this photo is definitely the car to the left. That’s an SUV, and the first of its kind didn’t appear until the Jeep Cherokee in 1984, so that means it was deposited by someone other than the owners. Perhaps once it was a nice place to lay your weary head for a night, until all the windows were busted out.
Trippin’ on chairs and … chairs
This many chairs would be hard to handle on strong acid, and if this were a scene from the movie Knocked Up, Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan would be tripping out big time on the variety of chairs here. Once again, we can probably count on the photographer arranging these chairs, but seriously, why so many different types?!
Rogan and Rudd may have tripping off of fungus that brought fun (and not so fun) hallucinations, but you don’t have to trip to think this is a lot of different chairs. But if you really are still tripping, just remember, not my chair, not my problem.
A chicken in every pot, and a fireplace in every room
By our count, this is the sixth fireplace to appear in Sansivero’s photographs, and even though he moves furniture around, he can’t move a chimney. In a few more photos you’ll see that this abandoned mansion has no less than four chimneys, and there might be more.
Fortunately, the owner seems to have closed the flue, otherwise, snow would be covering that fresh wood that’s ready for burning. This mansion, built in the 1930s, doesn’t have central air, which for a mansion this big that would be unheard of these days. During the winter, there must’ve been a whole lot of fires burning.
Shoes! For days
One day, when you have a mansion, and there are 57 rooms in it, you can devote entire rooms to things that are inconsequential, and in this case, the previous owners had one of the rooms entirely devoted to their shoes. What would your random room be devoted to?
In all likelihood, we’re probably looking at a small snippet of a woman’s closet, but it’s at least a walk in. And we can see that by how many similar pairs of shoes she has, that her collection could easily fill a room. After all, there’s no sign of her tennis shoes for the courts or her winter boots for the snow on her hardwood floors.
Meet the fam
Here we have what appears to be a number of black and white photographs of the owners and their family. We could be wrong, but that might be a nun in the middle, while a man looking like British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is on the left. The others look more normal.
What’s interesting about these photographs is that none of them are in a frame, yet we can see that each has been mounted. This is another example of the photographer staging a photo, as he clearly took the frames to avoid glare from the flash. Sansivero, we’re on to you!
The first daughter
This painting and some other house items has been moved to a different part of the house. A closer look at what must be the daughter of the owners shows a very happy, vibrant young child. Okay, that’s all a lie, as the darkness in the oil painting even betrays the bright yellow dress that she wears.
What is of far more concern is the joy that jack-in-the-box is taking in frightening everyone who sees it. That ashen face looks like it’s been to hell and back, and is here to take our souls. At least the girl doesn’t appear to be frightened by her terrifying toys, as she’s probably commanding them at this very moment.
Through the eye of the beholder
It’s kind of funny, but the view from the outside is far more lifeless than the abandoned inside. Squatters may have come and gone using the interior of the house as a home, but nobody was maintaining the grounds outside. This lifeless winter scene in the Northeast is quintessential and lends more mystery to the abandoned mansion.
The brick exterior was made to last, and you can bet that the mansion will stand for a thousand years unless someone tears it down. We weren’t kidding about the chimney’s either, as we can spot no less than four just from this view of the house alone.
Up close and personal
It might take a little bit of imagination, but looking at this entryway, which is overgrown and unkempt, we can see that it used to be a grand way to welcome yourself to the mansion. The double staircase brings you up to a beautiful baroque style door frame, and this looks to be just the back of the house.
If you also use your imagination and just stared at the house from the outside before walking in, could you see someone in the windows watching you? Photographer Sansivero must’ve wondered when he went in, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that if ghosts were present, people were for a time.
Down the hall and on the left
A walk through the abandoned mansion reveals that the home is very much in need of repairs and renovation. Furniture lays all about and bits and pieces of the lives of the previous owners lay scattered like sticks in the wind. And that’s how the mansion will remain for the time being.
According to sources, even though Sansivero took his walk through the mansion sometime in 2016, the mansion remains as untouched today as it did then. That is with the exceptions of the arrangement Sansivero made, or any creepy dolls that have scampered into a new hiding spot.