The Truth About What Happened In This Abandoned New York Mansion
New York City is home to the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and all of Broadway. It’s one of the busiest and most populated cities in North America. Over 8.5 million people live in New York City. While this city is full of life and excitement and bright lights, it also holds many secrets.
One of those secrets is a mansion that’s now totally abandoned. This mansion is not a tourist destination. It doesn’t call too much attention to itself. But one look inside and you’ll realize that this place contains a whole lot of mystery.
It Looks Nice From The Outside
This sprawling mansion is located just a few miles away from the heart of Times Square. Not very much is known about this Victorian gothic building. Some might even say that it’s a haunted mansion. Photographer Bryan Sansivero isn’t afraid of no ghosts, though.
He ventured inside this abandoned mansion to investigate who may have lived here and what they might have been like. Bryan walked through this house taking pictures as he went, and then he shared all of those pictures with the world. For more of Sansivero’s photos, visit his Instagram page.
Just Beyond The Front Doors
The only reason we know what the inside of this mansion looks like is because of New York-based photographer Brayn Sansivero. Sansivero has spent his career capturing images of urban decay. He mostly focuses on old, abandoned buildings. In 2008, he shot an award-winning movie about a building that used to be a psychiatric ward in Kings Park, New York called Shadows of Kings Park.
Sansivero’s reputation as an artist helped him gain access to this mysterious mansion.
Left Untouched For 40 Years
This mansion was built in the late 1930s and it was last inhabited in the 1970s. For some reason, over 40 years ago, the owners of this mansion decided to move out and nobody new moved in.
The mansion contains 57 distinct rooms including an indoor tennis court and bowling alley. It’s located right near New York City, which makes the property quite valuable. This place is the perfect size to be turned into a resort or a hotel.
Another One Bites The Dust
This gigantic house was quite a sight to see back when it was well maintained, but now it has been left to rot. We don’t know why the owner of this house left in such a hurry, but we do have an idea about who owned this property.
Documentation suggests that this place was owned by a wealthy man who regularly bought large mansions and then left them to deteriorate. This isn’t the first or only house that he let wither away.
They Got Out Of There Fast
Whoever left this place clearly left it in a hurry. They left valuable antiques behind as well as shoes, clothing, children’s toys, and furniture. It’s like the owners didn’t have time to collect their things before they took off into the night.
We’ll never know what the owners were fleeing from or why they never tried to sell this house. Maybe they died and didn’t have anybody to leave the home to. Maybe they were running from the law.
Everything You Could Ever Need All In One Place
If you thought 57 rooms were impressive, you’re going to be floored by the size of this property. The mansion actually sits on 6 acres of land. It has a bowling alley and an indoor tennis court for the athletically inclined, and two bars and a private library for people who prefer lounging.
This place contains everything you could ever need. It’s almost like a miniature version of an entire city. Why would anybody ever leave this place?
The Library Is Still Full Of Books
Whoever lived here didn’t have time to pack up all of their books before they left because all of their books are still sitting on the shelves in the library. This library provides another hint that the family who lived here valued education and staying informed.
Even though this room is quite dusty now, the wood paneling along the walls is still very much intact. It would be nice to know what this family spent their time reading.
A Closet Full Of Women’s Shoes
Everything we know about the people who lived in this house comes from the clues that they left behind. We do know that at least one woman lived here because Bryan photographed a closet full of women’s shoes located in the main bedroom.
These shoes must have belonged to somebody who dressed rather conservatively. These shoes are mostly slingback kitten heels in neutral or muted colors. There were no running or tennis shoes in this closet, so either this woman didn’t play sports or she took her running shoes with her when she left the house.
The Ballroom Looks As Beautiful As It Did In The ’70s
Even though the rest of the mansion is dusty and falling apart, this ballroom looks absolutely pristine. Trespassers haven’t managed to destroy this room, even though there is a small bit of graffiti on the walls.
The paint in this room is chipping and he mirror is cracked, but those opulent blue rugs look as beautiful as the day they were made. We can’t get over how magnificent that chandelier is. Why would anybody need two grand pianos in one room?
The Old Indoor Tennis Court
We’ve been hearing about this indoor tennis court for a while now, so here it is in all of its glory. You can tell that this structure was once quite magnificent, but now it’s run down and littered with trash.
This once gorgeous space is now a junkyard full of old tables, fans, debris from the crumbling walls, and even an abandoned car. The glass ceiling is still perfect, though. It’s letting in tons of natural light.
Tons Of Victorian Furniture
Even though this mansion was built in the 1930s which is famous for more of an art deco style, and the previous owners lived here in the ’70s, all of the furniture in this house in more Victorian in design. You won’t find any shag carpets, brown tones, or geometric paintings in this place. It’s almost like modernity never found this mansion.
Victorian design is characterized by ornate details and rich jewel tones. These golden ornate display shelves are very Victorian.
Old Art And New Art
This photo captures a very old, possibly valuable painting next to a new graffiti tag. It’s a perfect representation of the state of this house. This room was likely a sitting room where the adult would lounge by the fireplace during the cold winter months.
Considering how big this house is, it was probably very expensive to heat the place. The fireplace allowed whoever lived here to heat this room without racking up their heating bills.
The Children Who Lived Here
It’s clear from the stuffed animals and toys scattered all over this property that children lived here. The woman who owned all of those shoes must have been a mother. In this photo, you can see that there’s a vintage baby carriage in near-mint condition that was left in the foyer next to a large spiral staircase.
It’s very likely that a few children grew up in this home. We may never know what happened to them or where they are now, but we can gather some information about them from the clues they left behind.
One Child Played Golf
In this photo, you can see a boarding school trunk, which means that at least one of the children who lived in this house was old enough to go off to boarding school. It was common practice for wealthy families to send their kids off to boarding school instead of a regular public school.
We can also guess that this child enjoyed playing golf because there’s a set of golf clubs standing next to the trunk.
Some Of The Children May Have Been Home Schooled
This image of three school desks and a television set suggest that the kids may have been homeschooled when they weren’t at boarding school. These are the kinds of desks that you would typically find in a classroom in the 1970s.
Maybe this was where the children who lived in this house studied during the summers when they were home from school. Maybe their mother was quite strict and she made them do their homework in this room.
Chairs Through The Ages
This house was most likely owned by the same family from the ’30s all the way to the ’70s. This photo of several chairs that Bryan found in the house shows that the family had furniture from all different eras.
The bamboo chairs look like they’re straight out of the ’30s and ’40s, and the bink chair in the middle looks like it’s from a bygone era. Whoever lived here liked to mix and match different styles from different time periods.
Worn Down Over Time
In this photo, you can see that the walls and floor of this house are in pretty rough shape. You can also see that some New York winter snow has made its way into the house through the open window on the right side of the room.
That rocking horse in the middle of the photo must have belonged to one of the children who lived in this house. The horse is sitting between two vintage couches.
These People Must Have Loved Music
There weren’t that many televisions in this house, which is rather unusual for the 1970s. It’s possible that this family took their televisions with them when they left, but considering everything else they left behind, that doesn’t seem very likely. This family did have a lot of musical equipment though.
We’ve already seen multiple pianos, but in this photo, you can see that they also had accordions, keyboards, speakers, and record players. Maybe this house belonged to a family of traveling musicians.
Yet Another Piano
We’ve seen two grand pianos and a small keyboard, but there’s yet another piano to see in this grand house. This is a player piano. These pianos which can play by themselves are extremely rare. They came into popularity in the 1920s, but by 1929, nobody wanted them anymore. Stereo systems replaced this antiquated instrument.
This piano is probably worth quite a bit of money. It needs some tuning and a fresh coat of paint, though.
They Left Mid-Renovation
We already know that the owners of this place left in a hurry, but in this photo, it looks like they left in the midst of a renovation. They’ve left ladders and cans of paint lying around suggesting that they were painting this room when they decided to up and leave.
Maybe they started painting and then gave up on the paint job when they realized that they needed to get out town sooner than they anticipated. Maybe they ran out of money mid-renovation. For more of Sansivero’s photos, please visit his Instagram page.
Another Abandoned House
This is another house that was abandoned in New York, but this one isn’t nearly as grand as that mansion we were just looking at. This house is located on North Brother Island, a place where developers aren’t allowed to build high rises or knock down old structures.
A long time ago, North Brother Island was used as a sanitarium for people suffering from typhoid fever and smallpox. Today, it’s being reclaimed as a bird breeding habitat.
A Salt Water “River”
This whole island is pretty much abandoned. You can find North Brother Island in the East River of New York. This river is unique because it’s not really a river at all. It’s a tidal estuary and it’s full of saltwater.
The East River runs from Long Island Sound at its northern tip and stops at Upper New York Bay at the southernmost point. At one point, this river was the site of a busy trade center.
The Whole Island Feels Haunted
In 1963, North Brother Island was totally abandoned. It had been used as a sanitarium for 80 years, but after typhoid and smallpox were largely eradicated, the sanitarium was no longer necessary.
When the island was inhabited, it had a hospital, a church, a morgue, a hotel, and a lighthouse, among other buildings. Now all of those buildings are totally abandoned. The whole island almost seems haunted. It’s full of eroding metal, broken furniture, busted bathtubs, and broken windows.
The Tuberculosis Pavilion
In 1941, a Tuberculosis Pavilion Wing was added to the island. Now the windows of this building are shattered and there are vines growing all over its facade. Back in the day, this place housed people who were suffering from tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a highly contagious condition, so these patients had to be separated from healthy members of society.
Once vaccines for tuberculosis were invented, the disease was mostly eradicated and structures like this one weren’t needed anymore.
Inside The Pavilion
This is what the inside of the tuberculosis pavilion looks like. Now it looks like something straight out of a war zone. We can assure you that no bombs or gunshots created this decrepit scene. This is the result of father time.
Harsh winds, rain, erosion, and a lack of upkeep all led to this building crumbling from the inside out. This place was once pristine and sterile. Now it’s just a reminder of what used to be.
Nature Is Taking Over
This is a photo of another room inside he tuberculosis pavilion. Now there is an earthy texture covering the entire ground floor. Moss and other foliage have completely taken over this building. It’s strange to think that just 40 years ago, this place looked completely different
This wing of the pavilion was dedicated to improving the lives of those suffering from a horrible disease. Now the room almost looks like a garden. It’s kind of poetic if you think about it.
The Radiology Department
Back when this pavilion was a working part of the sanitarium, this room was known as the x-ray room. It’s on the first floor of the medical wing. The control room on the adjacent left side does not reveal as much damage as you would expect, but the wall has definitely taken a beating.
This room is full of water damage and there are tiles scattered all over the floor. Nature has not been kind to this space.
Where The Auditorium Once Stood
This room used to be an auditorium located in the North Brother “School” that was originally the island’s Services Building. This place was once a fully functioning school and now it looks like something out of a horror movie.
This island was also home to sick children who needed to be isolated from society, and those children went to school in this auditorium. Many of those children never made it off this island. These diseases weren’t exactly curable.
Thousands Of Abandonded Books
People needed to have something to do on North Brother Island while they were attempting to recover from various diseases. In this photo you can see what is left of the children’s ward, which was later turned into a library and annex after the tuberculosis pavilion was turned into a drug treatment center.
The library was a much-used portion of the sanitarium, but after the island was abandoned, all of these books were left without readers.
Where The Chapel Once Stood
This fallen tree and pile of moss mark where the island’s chapel once stood. The island had two chapels on it, and this was the chapel that was built last. On the left side of the photo, you can see the chapel’s last standing wall. A forest is starting to grow over the fallen walls and pieces of rubble.
North Brother Island needed two chapels because people facing life-threatening and mostly incurable illnesses needed somewhere to pray.
The Beginnings Of North Brother Island
North Brother Island began as a holding place for people with smallpox. People who died of smallpox were also buried on North Brother Island. Once people had recovered from smallpox, they were permitted to return home to their families.
Scientist Edward Jenner discovered that you could inject people with a wea version of smallpox called cowpox, and then people would build up an immunity to smallpox. This became the foundation of his vaccine program that ended up eradicating the disease.
How Typhoid Patients Came To The Island
When the typhoid outbreak happened, North Brother Island became a sanitarium for people with typhoid. Typhoid didn’t infect nearly as many people as smallpox, but it was more fatal than smallpox. It kills 10% of victims or more if left untreated and it’s caused by bacteria called Salmonella typhi.
Most people run a high fever when they’re infected with Salmonella typhi, but there are a few people in the world who have a natural immunity to this bacteria.
The Case Of Typhoid Mary
One such person who was immune to the effects of Salmonella typhi was Mary Mallon, also known as “Typhoid Mary.” Mary worked as a cook during the typhoid outbreak, and she unknowingly infected several people with the disease.
Mary was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid, and she had to be quarantined on North Brother Island even though she wasn’t sick. Mary was put on the island against her will. She remained there until her dying day.
Typhoid Mary Dies On The Island
Mary Mallon refused to believe that she was a typhoid carrier. She didn’t understand that she could make other people sick if she wasn’t feeling sick herself. We know that Mary actually killed three people by exposing them to typhoid, but some people believe that she was actually responsible for 50 deaths.
In 1932, Mary was working as a technician on the island when she had a stroke which left her completely paralyzed. She died in 1938 of pneumonia. After she died, an autopsy confirmed that there was still typhoid bacteria living in her gallbladder.
The Tuberculosis Problem
Typhoid and smallpox weren’t the only diseases that were treated on this island. Tuberculosis patients also had their time on North Brother Island. Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that causes the destruction of lung tissue. It is also an airborne disease and it is highly contagious.
There are no vaccinations for tuberculosis and the disease isn’t anywhere near as rampant as it once was. Still, there are people around the world who contract the disease.
A Housing Project On The Island
After it was no longer necessary for North Brother Island to be a treatment facility and a sanitarium, the island became a place were veterans would go if they were in need of housing.
World War II had left many soldiers poor and without homes. The island was used as a place where people could live close to New York until they were ready to move on and make their own way in the world.
What It’s Like Now
By the 1950s, North Brother Island was no longer in use. The people living on the island found it difficult to get into New York for work every day by ferry. North Brother Island was also becoming very expensive to maintain. The city decided to relocate the people who were still living on the island as part of the housing program to New York proper.
Nature was left to its own devices and pretty soon, trees, plants, wind, and rain started breaking down the man-made elements on the island.
The Island 40 Years Later
It’s now been over 40 years and trees and vines have almost totally engulfed the buildings that once stood tall on North Brother Island. In the ’70s, North Brother Island became a popular boating spot. Some light vandalism did occur at that time, but otherwise, it was mother nature herself who did all of this damage.
Within the last 11 years, this island has found a new purpose. It’s now a place that many birds call home.
North Brother Island Is Now A Bird Sanctuary
Nature has taken over and now this island is a Colonial Weather bird nesting habitat for Black-Crown Night Herons and other similar species. North Brother is a site for breeding bird activity along with its South Brother mate island.
Birds now use these abandoned buildings to mate, lay eggs, and raise their young. Birds have been flocking here for over a decade, and we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of wild birds in the New York area.
Yet Another Disaster
Several tragedies trace their roots back to North Brother Island. One of those tragedies was a horrible freak accident that caused the death of over 1,000 people.
On June 15, 1904, the PS Slocum, a sidewheel passenger ship, was chartered by the St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for $350.00. The ship capsized off the coast of North Brother Island and 1,000 passengers lost their lives. This island has been a place of healing, hope, destruction, and desperation. Its complicated legacy will continue to live on.