Posts Tagged ‘Abandoned Mansion’

Flight of Dragons

The Ruins of Bannerman Castle

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We have been doing this urban exploration thing for over five years now. We have explored places all over New England. We’ve seen the abandoned hospitals of Connecticut, the derelict fortresses of Rhode Island, the lost ski resorts of Vermont, and the forgotten landmarks of Massachusetts. New England has always been our base of operation. But this past autumn, we finally headed west to the Empire State. New York is a place that we have visited a few times lately on movie business, but had never done any exploring there. Technically, it’s almost closer to us than a lot of the places we’ve already visited. And so, for our eight year anniversary we finally decided that it was time. Our first destination? Bannerman Castle.

Bannerman Castle is kind of a local legend in these parts. Oddly enough, the local inn we stayed at on our trip had dozens of paintings of the castle all throughout their foyer. Located on Pollepel Island, smack dab in the middle of the roaring Hudson River, the castle was first built in 1901 by industrialist Francis Bannerman IV. Making his fortune in the scrap business, Bannerman is unofficially known as “The Father of Gun Collecting.” Though the main castle was built as a housing facility for his vast arms and munitions arsenal, the island was also the vacation home of the Bannerman family. Following Francis’s death in 1918, the castle went through a series of unfortunate events including fires, accidents, and architectural collapses. The island was named off-limits in 1969.

Since its closure, Bannerman Castle has slowly deteriorated. It’s once grand presence now haunts the Hudson River Valley. But in recent years, the local community has come together to bring it back to life. Through the Bannerman Castle Trust, certain buildings have been restored and the castle itself stands in a state of arrested decay. Much like Chester-Hudson Quarry in Massachusetts, the castle is maintained just enough to keep it from collapsing. The trust offers tours of island in the summer and fall via ferry. We were lucky enough to catch one of the final tours of the season. Taking a small boat through the roaring Hudson River, the castle looms like a mythical giant in the distance. It beckons all weary travels towards its once rich gateways.

Honestly, the castle is damn near awe-inspiring. Against the gorgeous backdrop of the Hudson River Valley around it, the faded red palace looks like something out of a fairy tale.  While the front of the castle still looks amazing, the back is in much worse shape. It looks like it could collapse at any moment. Unfortunately, seeing this place is much more tourism that it is exploration. We were on the island for a grand total of about an hour, and did not get to see the castle as up close as I would have liked. Guides ferry visitors to and fro across the island like sheep. Nothing against them or the Bannerman Castle Trust, I just would’ve preferred seeing the place on our own as opposed to in a group. This was definitely a very different experience than we are used to.

I almost didn’t write about this place for our site. Like I said before, this place is much more in line with Dark Tourism than urban exploration. But Bannerman Castle truly is amazing to see. Even if you don’t take the island tour, seeing it from the banks of the river or the top of nearby Mount Beacon is bloody breathtaking. Much like Hearthstone Castle, it feels like something from a dream. Yet as awesome as Bannerman Castle is, I couldn’t help but imagine what it must’ve been like during its heyday. Walking across the island was just as cool as it was somber. The dragons that once ruled this magical place have long since flown off. And yet, somehow, the castle has captured the hearts and minds of the local community. She may never again rise to her former glory. Yet with a little help, she still stands tall.

If you are interested in visiting the castle, please check out the Bannerman Castle Trust’s website here – https://www.bannermancastle.org

Hail to the King

The Abandoned Hearthstone Castle

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Happy Fall, everyone. It’s finally here. The leaves are changing colors. The nights are getting colder. And the scary movies are starting to pop up on television. Though it always feels like such a passing season, each moment of Fall comes with its own personal flair. This one in particular is special for us. We finally made it to a place that has haunted us for years. We have made many plans to go see it at many points during our six years of urban exploring. Yet somehow, especially with its looming potential demolition, we never quite made it to this hot-spot. This is Hearthstone Castle, a true legend in these parts. If you are reading this, you have most likely heard of or visited this place. And now, after all these years, she finally makes an appearance here on our site.

The history of Hearthstone Castle is brief, but checkered. Located in Danbury, Connecticut, the castle was built in 1895 to a wealthy local family. For years, she served as a residence and a summer home. Materials to create and furnish the castle were flown in from around the globe. She changed ownership and name many times over the years, before finally being sold to the town of Danbury in 1987. It was here that things began to take a dark turn for the castle. Though it was declared a National Historic Place, the property rapidly began to fall into disrepair. Many proposals have come and gone with what to do with the old castle even as nature slowly begins to strike back. Today she sits completely abandoned, and has become a favorite place amongst the local urban explorer community.

We really weren’t planning on stopping at Hearthstone. Coming home from New York, we saw that we would be going straight through Danbury. And thus, we decided to stop and see the fabled castle. As a hiker and a hunter, finding Hearthstone was disappointing. You park your car. You walk into the woods. And there it is. There is no long hike. There is no hunt through the woods. Its just sitting right there, waiting for you. And yet, the castle is simply breathtaking. The old stone architecture is unmatched. It is very reminiscent of the nearby Gillette Castle. Birds chirp from the ramparts. A fox scurries amongst the underbrush. And remarkably, not a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign was in sight. A couple random fences still stand, but other than that, the castle is just there for the taking.

I can honestly say that the years have not been kind to Hearthstone Castle. Though her tough stone facade remains unflinching, her interiors have been truly disemboweled. The floors are all gone. And those that still stand are shaky as all Hell. Broken glass and splinters of wood are all over the ground. Graffiti and vandalism runs rampant across the grounds, except for in the higher to reach places. Wild vines and vegetation grow in canopies across the walls and porches. The once great walls that were once occupied by the highest of society are now home to the wrath of nature and vandalism. If your tall, like myself, this place can be a little tricky to navigate. I can honestly see why this place has been scheduled for demolition. And yet, through it all, she still remains steadfastly beautiful.

 It was honestly hard to tear myself away from Hearthstone Castle. I spent a long time just staring at it long after we had finished exploring, trying to take in every tiny detail. It just has a certain magic to it. I just couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting more. When we finally did leave, I had to tell myself not to look back. It was sad to think that this was the first, and will probably be the last time that I see the castle. With every year that passes, somebody of importance almost always says that it will be Hearthstone’s final year. But I guess that is just the brevity of existence. We’ve got to enjoy life one day at a time. And one day Hearthstone Castle will fall, whether it be by the teeth of a bulldozer or the slow decay of time. But no matter what the future may hold for this magical place, it will always be a legend.

The Top Ten Movies that Explore Abandoned Places

Written by: Cobra

So two years ago, I wrote a piece for this site covering the Top 10 Movies to be set in abandoned places. It got a shit ton of views. So last year, I wrote a sequel: the Top 10 Movies filmed in abandoned places. Now, comes part three. I love movies. I love watching them, talking about them, and being in them. But ones that involve abandoned places always interest me. Its always fun to compare fictitious abandoned places to real ones. What sets this list apart from the last one is that those were movies where the main action took place in an abandoned setting. These films only explore them. So without further ado, I bring to you – The Top Ten Movies that Explore Abandoned Places.

#10 – My Soul to Take (2010) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0872230/

We start this list with a movie that I was in, as is tradition. Directed by horror movie master Wes Craven, this film could’ve been a lot better. Eighteen years after his alleged death, The Riverton Ripper returns to his hometown to hunt the seven children mysteriously born the night died. Every year, these seven children commemorate the date by throwing a party at the now abandoned ambulance where the Ripper was last seen.

soul-to-take

#9 – Halloween (1978) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077651/

Truly one of the greatest horror movies of all time, John Carpenter’s immortal classic is kind of similar to our last entry. One Halloween night, a young Michael Myers puts on a mask and his murders his sister in cold blood. Fifteen years later, he escapes from a mental institution to wreak havoc on his hometown once again. During those fifteen years he was gone, the Myers House has sat empty and abandoned. Trafficked now only be thrill-seekers and teenagers, the house is a chilling reminder of a terrible crime.

Halloween

#8 – V for Vendetta (2005) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409/ 

Whether you love it or hate it, this film certainly is unique. It’s style, story line, and performances are all quite different from your average comic book adaption. Set in a dark future where Great Britain is ruled under a fascist government, a mysterious freedom fighter named V aims to take down the regime and restore freedom to the people. The film’s climatic end and fight scene take place in the abandoned London Underground train system. With its shadowy lighting and creepy aesthetics, it really brings the scene to life.

vendetta

#7 – Inception (2010) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/ 

I’m not even going to try to explain the plot of this film. Seriously, its so intricate and deep (in a good way) you’re just going to have to watch it. All I will say it takes place in the world of dreams. And in this world, the deepest level is Limbo. Or in simpler terms, unconstructed dream space. Our main character Dom, played marvelously by Leo DiCaprio, returns to Limbo years after building a city with his lost love. Now, it stands in ruins. Populated only by memories and the ghosts of his past.

Limbo

#6 – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2015381/ 

I really don’t care for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I love this movie. I sometimes wish that Marvel would just keep the Guardians separate from the rest of the MCU. Anyways, an unlikely group of intergalactic misfits are forced to team up to save the universe from certain destruction. James Gunn brings a fabulous soundtrack, memorable characters (except for his annoying brother), and a great story to life. One stop on this grand adventure is the abandoned planet Morag. It may be just a pit-stop in the overall film, but its still a really cool location.

Morag

#5 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2527336/

The most polarizing Star Wars film ever made. After destroying the destructive Starkiller Base in the previous film, our heroes are now being pursued across the galaxy by the villainous First Order. They manage to make their final stand at an abandoned Rebellion base on the salt planet of Crait. Say what you will about this film (personally I despise it) but Crait really is one of the coolest planets we’ve ever seen in the series. The visuals are stunning, the set design is on point, and the abandoned planet makes for a fitting setting for the film’s climax.

Crait

#4 – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4881806/

After the massive success of its predecessor, it really isn’t surprising that we’re getting a sequel. And this one looks even better. The Jurassic World park is now abandoned. Dinosaurs roam freely once again. But when a volcano threatens to destroy the island once and for all, our heroes must rally together for a rescue mission. Seeing the once captivating resort park of the first film in such a state of decay gives this film a really cool vibe. And while we still have a few weeks until it hits theaters, the trailers sure look promising.

Jurassic

#3 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) –  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903624/

When you try to turn a three-hundred page book into three three-hour movies, things don’t usually come out so good. And that’s coming from a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan. Now that that’s out of the way, this trilogy starter tells of the adventure of Bilbo Baggins before the events of the original trilogy. The young Hobbit ends up whisked off on an adventure to reclaim the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor. Along the way, the wizard Gandalf makes a trek to the abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur. Evil spirits now haunt the empty corridors, and this place become a backdrop of villainy for the entire trilogy.

Dol_Guldur

#2 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454841/

One of my personal favorite horror films. It is just so damn intense. A remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 cult classic, this film more or less proved to the world that remakes of horror films can actually be good when put in the right hands. The story follows the Carter Family, traveling across the desert to California. They are eventually set upon by a dangerous group of people living in the hills. Towards the end of the film, the film winds up in an abandoned nuclear test site from the Cold War. And it is really spooky. Ghostly mannequins, derelict buildings, and old cars make this ghost town a terrifying setting.

HHE

#1 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304141/

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” One of my personal favorite films in the Harry Potter series, this story follows his third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A dark figure from Harry’s past and convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison Azkaban, and is coming after him. With the help of his friends and new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Harry Potter goes on quite an adventure. One of the key sites of that adventure is the notorious Shrieking Shack. Believed to be the most haunted building in the country, this abandoned house plays a major role in the film’s climax.

Shriekingshack

And that’s our list! Did we miss any out? Let us hear about it in the comments below!

 

Mansions of Memory

The Abandoned Elmcrest Hospital

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We’ve explored many different abandoned hospitals in our time. Each one has had their own special little details that make them unique. Undercliff Sanatorium, before her demolition, was full of darkness and danger. Seaside Sanatorium is both captivatingly beautiful and hauntingly tragic. Mansfield Training School is its own Twilight Zone dimension in the middle of a bustling campus community. But today’s subject is a little different. Her name is Elmcrest Hospital, and she is bit more peculiar than most. With a much more intimate setting and a much less trouble past, Elmcrest Hospital stands in a class all her own. Though her future is uncertain, her halls are still full of memory.

 Unlike the other facilities that we listed earlier, Elmcrest Hospital was a private psychiatric treatment center. Opening in the early 1940’s, Elmcrest was established by uniting four mansions together in Portland, Connecticut, to form the facility. For decades Elmcrest Hospital went about its business, serving a small number of patients. In 1997, it was then purchased by the larger Saint Francis Hospital. This is where things took a turn for the worse, a patiently tragically died a year later following an accident. Under increased scrutiny, ownership was transferred to Hartford Hospital shortly after before the grounds closed all together in 2006.

Though many redevelopment proposals have come up, the grounds still remain empty. Visiting Elmcrest Hospital was a bit of a challenge. Lying smack dab on a very busy intersection and featuring some nosy neighbors, we weren’t able to stay very long. Unfortunately, there was not much to see here anyway. The buildings are all boarded up, some even coated in a thicket of vegetation. But what we were able to see was far different from all other abandoned hospitals we have visited. There were no feelings of dread or despair here. There was no graffiti or vandalism. This place did not feel haunted at all. It almost felt hopeful, like it wasn’t ready to give up.

Elmcrest Hospital has no dark secrets, that we know of. This is one of the rare, positive pieces you will find on this site. This place was not creepy or haunting. It was tragic. It was a unique facility and staple of the local community. Talks of demolition or redevelopment have come and gone over the years, but Elmcrest still stands. There is a local movement currently working towards the preservation of Elmcrest – https://www.elmcrestportlandct.com/ – and its good to see people still invested in this place. The grounds have their own unique mystique about them, and it would be shame to see these old mansions of memory fall.

The Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2016

Posted: December 30, 2016 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Amusement Park, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Cape Cod, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Farm, Abandoned Forts, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Racetrack, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Ski Area, Abandoned Stores, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Cape Cod, Closed, Connecticut, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Hogback Mountain, Information, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, Mystic, nature, new england, Ocean View, photography, Public Parks, Rhode Island, Ruins, Stories, Truro, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vermont, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please check out our second annual Top 5 Abandoned Places video! It covers all of the best places we’ve explored this year. Happy New Year, everyone!