When homes are no longer used, most are torn down and replaced with a modern house. Some remained abandoned, but even fewer keep their owner’s belongings for decades after they lived there. The Virginia Flower House is one of those houses.
Photographer Bryan Sansivero captured images of the home’s furniture, decorations, wallpaper, and family photographs. Nothing teaches people more about a prior era than seeing it for themselves. Discover the reality of America’s tense and prosperous decade through this Virginia home.
Hidden In The Brush
In July 2019, photographer Bryan Sansivero captured photos of an abandoned house in Virginia. The home’s beds, furniture, decorations, and family photos were all left behind. The house is a time capsule peeking back at the 1950s.
After World War II, the American economy flourished. Citizens enjoyed a wealth of new technology and entertainment. Rock ‘n roll, TV shows, and hot cars were all the rage. This house’s owners earned enough money to afford these benefits.
Untouched For Decades
This Virginian home has remained abandoned for decades. When the former residents lived there, Virginians were fully engaged in the Civil Rights Movements. Citizens argued over segregation and human rights laws throughout the 1950s.
At the same time, America embraced an economic boom. New kitchen appliances, home decor, and knick-knacks became affordable for the middle class. You’ll see many of these old appliances inside of this house, which was likely a middle class or upper-middle class home.
The Lost Living Room
This room was likely a lounge. Those white benches seem to be outdoor furniture that were moved inside for some reason. On the right, there’s a desk with what looks like a computer. That’s not a computer, but a trunk.
The only commercial computers available during the ’50s and ’60s would have been much larger. On the walls and floors, you’ll see excellent examples of wallpaper designs that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
A Closer Look At The Desk
Looking at the desk, you can see an old wall clock, a letter organizer, and some abandoned wall decor. In mint condition, these desks can sell for thousands of dollars. But this abandoned remnant looks like it’s barely hanging on.
The large drawer on the left of the desk folds outward to reveal more shelves and desk space. This design was common in the ’50s and often used to save space. Leaning against the desk is an antique vacuum cleaner.
You Can’t Have An Abandoned House Without A Creepy Doll
Nothing is more creepy than a severed doll head in an abandoned house. But this ancient toy gives us a glimpse into a family’s life decades ago. The ’50s and ’60s had no shortage of dolls for children to play with.
This head may have belonged to a Tiny Tears doll, a toy made by the American Character Doll Company from 1950 through 1968. All of these dolls had tiny red lips, big cheeks, and brightly-colored eyes.
Two TVs Are Better Than One
In front of the display cabinets, there are two televisions, one larger and one smaller. The population of television skyrocketed in the 1950s. In 1953, the price dropped from $500 to $200, and 77% of American households bought their first television during this decade.
If you’re surprised by seeing two TVs, know that you’ll see another one soon. Television trumped the radio as a prime source of entertainment in the 1950s. With such a large house, it’s no wonder that the family would need more entertainment.
A Kitchen That Hasn’t Been Used In Decades
If someone cleaned up the debris, this would be a gorgeous kitchen. The mint color was quite popular in the ’50s, as was including a TV near the dinner table. The wall-mounted oven might seem unusual to us now but was common back then.
Throughout the decade, homes began installing built-in “cabinettes” above the countertop. While these inventions arose in the ’20s, they weren’t added to homes until after World War II. The ’50s were the beginning of a seamless kitchen with appliances that fit neatly against a wall.
Photo Albums No Longer Viewed
On this corner table, a family left their family photo albums to fade into history. Photos of siblings and friends lay scattered over brightly-colored photo albums, many of which have not been touched in decades.
Although color photography existed for decades prior, it didn’t become popular until the late ’50s and ’60s. The first newspaper in America to use full-colored pages didn’t arise until 1958. These color photos likely originated from the ’60s and ’70s.
A Tiny Table Of Memories
Here’s another glimpse of the photograph table. A small lamp garnishes this corner table that is likely devoted to family photos. But for some reason, this family didn’t take any of their albums with them.
After World War II, photographs became more pervasive than ever before. Magazines and newspapers added photos to every issue. Family photos became a regularity rather than a treat. Even so, nothing can replace the sentimental value of mid-nineteenth-century photographs.
Someone Dropped Their Legos
With its mirrored mantel and tall windows, this space was probably a playroom. If you look at the ground, you’ll see brightly-colored plastic bricks. These are the old versions of Legos. The bricks first came out in 1949 as Automatic Binding Bricks, but they were renamed ‘Lego” in 1953.
If you’re wondering why those hanging plants look recently-watered, it’s because they’re not real. Americans in the ’50s bought their fair share of artificial flowers, although these were made from hard plastic and not latex.
Where Does This Key Lead?
A side table tells us a bit about the people who once lived here. A small Bible is open to Genesis with a key on top of it. On the inside cover, the owner wrote something in pencil. A horseshoe pendant sits on the right.
You can also see a Polaroid photo of flower vases. Color Polaroids became popular in the ’60s through the “peel-apart” technique, as opposed to the ’70s non-peel-apart prints that some people know today.
Peek Inside A Vintage Closet
Inside a woman’s bedroom, you can see a closet with well-preserved 1950s clothing. In 1947, French designer Christian Dior popularized full skirts, swing coats, and tight waistlines. Bright colors and small designs like polka dots were trendy for women.
Before the 1950s, closets were much smaller than the one you see here. Some historians suggest that larger closets prompted Americans to move to the suburbs. Walk-in closets didn’t appear in American homes until the 1980s.
Clothes All Over The Floor
If you want some vintage clothes, you can pick them off of this bedroom floor. These clothes have deteriorated over time, although some clean coats still hang on the closet door. Circular paper mache boxes, like the one on the bed, were commonly used during this time.
Curtains and stretches of wallpaper have fallen over time. Compared to the other rooms, this bedroom looks rather plain. On the nightstand, you can see a picture of the owner or their relative.
This Furniture Wasn’t Always Available
In the corner of the bedroom, there’s a plush red chair with pink cushions. These kinds of luxury chairs weren’t common in American homes before the 1950s. With the post-war economic boom, designers switched from cheap straw and horsehair to polyurethane foam to create comfy cushions.
Sofas and chairs with tapered legs and clean-cut edges populated American homes in the ’50s. This home features several chairs and sofas that match and compliment the room’s wallpaper.
You Don’t See Phones Like This Anymore
Here’s a throwback to when phones had chords. By the start of the decade, two-thirds of Americans owned a telephone, with the percentage growing every year. Americans in the ’50s received a more convenient phone advancement: a wall-mounted phone.
While these phones seem clunky by today’s standards, they were sleek back then. Most wall phones came in black, white, and brown, and this one was likely white before nature dirtied it. In case you’re wondering, it probably doesn’t work.
Enjoy The Haven Of Toys
Here’s another view of the playroom. The mantel has a mirror that reflects the rest of the room. The fake tree in the corner overshadows a mound of toys that reflect Christmas morning. If not for the decayed walls, this would look like a well-loved home.
In true ’50s style, the thick curtains perfectly match the wallpaper. Pinch-pleated drapes were a staple of the mid-century American home. And if the mantel mirror wasn’t enough, there’s a tiny mirror hanging above the tree.
Above The Mantelpiece
On top of the mantel, there’s a print of puppies and a vase full of artificial flowers. Prints became popular in 1950s households. All of the ceramic decorations seem to be kid-themed, from mother and baby swam to two mice to tiny vases.
Artificial flowers remained popular through the 1980s. Many flower arrangements were inspired by the florist and author Constance Spry, either directly or indirectly. The vase sports a floral design that differs from the wallpaper.
It’s Reading Time
This corner table illustrates another part of a children’s play area. On the table, you can see some Disney books such as Pinocchio. On the chair, there’s a Babar book, a show that didn’t appear on TV until 1968.
Polaroid photos litter the floor along with fallen wall lining. There are also card games, novellas, and miscellaneous pieces of paper. The wooden reindeer on one chair was likely used as a Christmas decoration.
This Antique Will Never Carry Cream
This floral creamer and saucer are part of a tea set that will never again be used. During the ’50s, homeowners commonly bought tea sets and china with floral illustrations. Unlike previous decades, home appliances focused on comfort and leisure.
Ceramic knick-knacks entered commercial mass-production after World War II. With more money to spend, Americans invested in collections of decorations such as the ones seen in this photo: tiny sliver chairs, bowls, clips, and ceramic statues.
What Lovely Wallpaper!
Here is one bedroom with light pink decorating the curtains, rug, and wallpaper. Popular in the ’50s, this light-hued design would later become known as “shabby chic.” While patterned wallpaper was popular before this era, the industry blossomed in the ’50s.
The 1950s saw a rise in “theme papers,” wallpapers with designs that matched the owner’s personal interest. Images ranged from garden tools to sports gear to kitchen equipment. The wallpaper in the photo, though, reflects a trend more common in the ’60s.
Pretty In Pink
Pastel colors were especially popular in ’50s decor, and nothing illustrates this more than this girl’s bedroom. Ornate wallpapers were meant to contrast the dark wood of the furniture. The bedsheets sport floral patterns that seem to be a theme throughout the home.
Bright, plastic appliances, like that hot pink trunk, popped up in several ’50s homes. For decades, that trunk has remained closed. You can also see an antique handbag that will never be carried again.
Handbags And Shorts Long Discarded
This bedroom floor is concealed by old purses, curtains, shirts, and sheets. All vary in color, pattern, and newness. The ’50s and ’60s saw a wide variety of fabrics and patterns that hadn’t been seen since the 1910s.
During the 1940s, fashion was influenced by the limited number and quality of fabrics. Once World War II ended, the American fashion industry experienced an economic boom. Vibrant, funky patterns (like the one seen on the bottom) became popular with teenagers.
Farewell, Fancy Clock
In the house, an antique clock fell off the wall. The glass shattered, but the brass design has remained intact. The clock’s design, though beautiful, has a more antique appearance than most “modern” wall clocks in the ’50s.
Popular clock designs came from the American designer George Nelson. His firm, George Nelson Associates, crafted several kinds of wall and table clocks throughout the ’50s and ’60s. Popular designs include the Sunflower Clock and Ball Clock.
Walking Down The Hallway
From this hallway, you can catch a glimpse of a girl’s room. The pink walls match the wallpaper in the bedroom, but no wallpaper lines the hall. On the right, a full-length wall mirror garnishes the hallway.
If you know about ’50s decor, you may have noticed that this house is much larger than most Americans’ homes during the decade. In most suburban areas, Americans would stack furniture and appliances, but this house seems to have belonged to an upper-middle class family.
A Piece Of Modernity Hides Here
In this photo, a ceramic swan sits on top of a Toshiba microwave oven. A curious note is that the Toshiba logo is more modern than the home. From 1950 to 1969, Toshiba used a different logo with a cursive script.
In the background, cupboards display some unwanted items next to the window. There’s a vase, wooden box, papers, and brush on the TV. It’s as if the family moved without packing any of their belongings.
Even The Shelves Are Crumbling
This “glass hallway” is lined with white-framed windows on one side. The view displays a field of trees in the Virginia countryside. The frames sport white shelves that transform the hallway into a display case.
While the residents lived here, they may put placed house plants on these shelves. But the plants have long since died, and only the decorative pots remain. Other knick-knacks such as wreaths and garden ceramics liven this now decrepit glass hallway.
A Collection Lost To Time
These shelves hold a collection of ceramic decorations, many of which have fallen or crumbled over time. Collections like this were common in the 1950s. As the middle class expanded, consumerism reached an all-time high.
Not only did workers make higher wages than the previous decades, but the U.S. also produced almost half of the world’s goods. Decorations were cheaper, and Americans could afford more than they could during World War II. The era of collections and knick-knacks began.
Nature Takes Over
Here’s another angle of the glass hallway. Instead of supplying shelves, this end offers couches for residents and guests to enjoy the view. Those vines were likely not in the home while the owners were living there.
Throughout the decades, vines have crept up the side of the house and wormed their way into the hallway. Soon, the entire home will become overtaken by the surrounding nature. Photographer Bryan Sansivero captured these images before the house was lost forever.
Slowly Consumed By Nature
This home is larger than most Virginians’ homes would have been in mid-century America. The average home was 983 square feet in 1950, while today, it’s 2500 square feet. But the tall trees make it look small
From the outside, you can’t see any relics. You can only see an abandoned, vine-covered house with a glass hallway. While these photos of the time capsule home will last forever, this home will not. It will soon disappear.
An Abandoned Mansion In NYC Raises Questions
New York City is one of the most populated cities in America with over 8.5 million residents. You would think that as skyscrapers are built up and rent prices skyrocket to accommodate the quarter-million people who move there each year, there isn’t any room for secrets. Where would they hide? From deep inside the cavernous subway tunnels (which are constantly under construction) to the tippy top of the Empire State, there’s seemingly not an inch of the five boroughs that have gone unexplored.
Not a whole lot is known about this abandoned mansion just a few miles outside of the bustling heart of Times Square, yet it remains almost entirely untouched. Click through to find out about the mystery behind this once lavish, decaying property.
Photographer Bryan Sansivero Unlocked The Mystery Behind This Abandoned Home
This mansion would still be lying unknown, unseen and decaying just outside of Manhattan if it wasn’t for the New York-based photographer Bryan Sansivero. Sansivero specializes in capturing scenes of urban decay, focusing mostly on abandoned buildings.
In 2008, he shot an award-winning movie about a crumbling psychiatric ward in Kings Park, New York called Shadows of Kings Park. The film showcased what he does best – making people pay attention to things that have been long forgotten. Sansivero managed to gain access to the 57-room mansion and photographed the interior.
This 57-Room Mansion Has Been Abandoned For 40 Years
The expansive mansion is a crumbling relic of an era. After being built in the late 1930s, it was last inhabited in the 1970s. That was over 40 years ago. No one knows why the original owners of the property left or why no one else has moved in.
The mansion expands across 57 rooms with an indoor tennis court and bowling alley. It’s in a prime location, and the perfect type of property to transform into a hotel (and make some serious bucks), yet it’s been left to decay.
The Current Owner Likes To Watch Grand Properties Crumble
This gorgeous mansion was certainly grand in its heyday. Who lived there and what they did for a living to afford or need a 57 room household remains a mystery, but we do know it was at some point, well taken care of. While it may appear abandoned now (and in quite a hurry, at that), the property does have an actual owner.
According to reports, the mansion is owned by an unnamed wealthy property owner who regularly buys large mansions and leaves them to deteriorate. The owner has apparently purchased a number of lavish homes and left them all to rot.
The Mansion Rests On A Six Acre Estate
It’s not just the interior of this sprawling mansion that is impressively gigantic. Though the actual home boasts 57 rooms, the mansion stands on six entire acres of property. The mansion is almost like an entire city wrapped up in a neat, little box.
There are a bowling alley and indoor tennis court, but if sports aren’t your thing, the home allegedly had two bars and a private library. It’s almost as if whoever lived there never needed a reason to leave. Perhaps they didn’t, except for the very first (and last) time.
Whoever Lived In The Mansion Left In A Hurry
Nothing about this gorgeous, sprawling mansion seems like it was sold the normal way. There’s something so utterly suspicious about the way it was left behind. Whoever originally lived in the estate left in an absolute hurry. Perhaps the original owners died suddenly in an accident leaving the home to be auctioned off.
Maybe they were running from the law. No one will ever know, but the home is preserved almost completely intact with closets full of shoes and clothing. Children’s toys and furniture are left in places or scattered throughout the home like the owners didn’t have time to pick up after themselves.
At Least One Woman Lived In This Home
There’s not a whole lot we can deduce about the former inhabitants of this home, but we do know at least one woman lived here because she left nearly her entire shoe collection in the bedroom. Based on the type of shoes she wore, we can guess that she didn’t do much physical activity, and had a very conservative style.
Her shoes are mostly slingback kitten heels in muted color like nudes and grays, save for a pair of green sling-backs and colorful, heeled peep-toes. There’s not a sneaker in sight, we’re guessing she didn’t use the indoor tennis court too often. It’s also likely she had children.
What Happened To The Children Who Lived In The Home?
We know a woman lived in the mansion, but she also may have been a mother. The interior is littered with things only a child would own like baby dolls and other toys. In the foyer, by a large spiral staircase, a vintage baby carriage in near-mint condition rests abandoned.
This leads us to believe there were multiple children in the home: a baby and younger children, perhaps of toddler age. The children had to be old enough to play with dolls and at least crawl around to leave their toys about the living room.
One Of The Children Was School-Aged and Enjoyed Golf
Though we know that this was home to multiple children, with one being a baby, we also know one of the children was school-aged. This image appears to show a boarding school trunk. It was typical for wealthy families to send their school-aged kids off to boarding school rather than attending public school.
This child also probably enjoyed playing a few rounds of golf with pops because this photo shows a carrying case for golf clubs. Of course, an abandoned home wouldn’t be complete without a creepy painting of a child. Was this perhaps a portrait of the little boy who used to live here?
Were Some Of The Children Home-Schooled?
Images from this forgotten home show that maybe when these kids weren’t at boarding school, they were homeschooled. It was quite a large house, so there was room for almost everything. This room shows three child-sized desks that are typical in modern school rooms. There’s even a small antenna TV and alarm clock.
Paint from these walls is slowly chipping off, exposing numerous paint jobs, from white to cream to a grayish color. Was the mother of this home a strict mom who made her kids study when they were home from boarding school? Was she their teacher?
The Library Still Has All Of The Shelves Filled With Books
The family who lived in this home didn’t have time to pack up their books before they left, but they were definitely avid readers. If that wasn’t evident from the schoolroom, which definitely shows that the family places high importance on education, it’s evident in the library. In the private library, books fall off the shelves and rest on an ornate desk.
There’s also a couch so family-members could read in comfort. Over the years, some of the books have lost their pages, which sprawled across the floor, but the room’s wood paneling is still pristine.
The Ballroom Was Left Almost Completely Intact
Though the mansion rests just a few miles outside one of the busiest cities in the world, it’s been almost completely untouched by trespassers. There’s an odd bit of graffiti here and there, but hardly a single portion of this property has been defaced or destroyed by anything other than age. In fact, this giant, sun-filled room is almost in pristine condition save for a tiny spot of graffiti, chipping paint and a cracked mirror.
The family even left the opulent blue rugs, the floral window-toppers, curtains, expensive grand pianos and a suitcase perched atop a couch. Did they not have enough time to pack?
This Indoor Tennis Court Is Now Resting Space For Garbage
The home’s indoor tennis court is perhaps one of the most stunning pieces of the property. The entire ceiling is covered with gigantic, expansive windows that let in tons of natural light. It’s as close as you can get to being outside but still having the temperature-controlled (New York winters can be fierce, but the owners of this house wanted to play tennis year-round).
Though this giant tennis court was probably frequently used and well-maintained, it’s become a home for junk rather than a place for entertaining. Old tables, fans, and debris from the crumbling walls litter the room. There’s even an abandoned car, turning this space into a regular old junkyard.
The Home Is A Time Capsule For Victorian Design
Though the 1930s were synonymous with art deco and the ’70s were known for gaudy shag carpets and brown-tones, the mansion’s owners favored Victorian interior design. This is evident from the furniture and accents in this crumbling room. The Victorian design was favored in the mid-1800s to early 1900s, and marked by bold prints, dark patterned wallpaper, ornate details, and rich jewel tones.
It also often contained elements of the Gothic Revival like the arched shelving or decorative pillars in this photo. The gold finish and ornate carvings in this room’s trophy cases also give a nod to Victorian design, which is a unique choice for a family in the 1970s.
The Home Has Been Decorated Through The Ages
The owners of this home probably lived here a long time, and the property was probably kept in the family from the ’30s all the way to the ’70s. This is evident in the home’s interior design. Though many of the rooms reference Victorian Design, this photo of chairs pretty much shows design through all of the eras.
There are bamboo chairs that mark the ’30s and ’40s art deco movement. There’s curved, ornate wood detailing showcasing Victorian style. There’s the bold colors of the ’50s and ’60s midcentury modern, and the mustard and brown-tones typical of ’70s style.
The House Is Not Immune To The Elements
In this stunning photo, we see a rocking horse. It was likely favored by one of the toddlers who frolicked around the home. The horse rests between two vintage couches that are deteriorating because the house is still subject to the elements.
Though a curtain still covers the large window to the right, it’s not enough to stop the chilling New York winter from creeping into the home. The floor is covered with a sheet of snow, which reminds us that eventually, nature will take back the property unless someone steps in to shut it out.
The Owners Of This Home Were Quite Musical
Back in the 1930s when this property was built, television was new. In fact, it was invented less than a decade prior and by the ’70s most families enjoyed sitting in front of the tube watching nightly programming. Unlike most Americans, the owners of this house hardly had a TV in sight (though there was just one, which we’ll get to later). Instead, there’s an abundance of musical equipment. The ballroom has two grand pianos (one is pretty standard for a mansion, but two means someone in the family definitely played). There are also what appear to be accordions in one living space, and a smaller keyboard, speaker and record player in a different room.
The Fireplace Shows Expensive Paintings And Furniture Left To Decay
The creepiest part of this mansion was how quickly the owners appeared to have left. This room, which shows no evidence children has not one, but two TVs (if you look closely there’s a screen all the way to the left). There’s no fancy, comfy couch for kids to sit and watch, which leads us to believe this is where the adults enjoyed their programming.
Expensive-looking chairs are placed in viewing distance near the fireplace, which was probably way more effective at heating a room of that size than a regular heating system. Heating was probably a challenge in the winter considering the home’s size and it probably was extremely expensive (not that you’re counting pennies if you live in a house this big).
A Player Piano Sits Abandoned Next To A Chair
Player pianos are a rare sight in 2017, but even in the ’70s, they were exceedingly unpopular. In fact, sales for these instruments peaked in 1924 and the stock market crash of 1929 nearly wiped out their entire production. The player piano is a relic of a time where electrical amplification didn’t exist. Clearly, the owners of this home did have electrical amplification, as is evident with their TV sets and record players.
This was likely an heirloom passed down in the family or perhaps this home was owned by an older individual or number of families who lived there for generations from when it was built in the 1930s to the 1970s.
Did The Home Have Trouble Selling?
The owners of this home up and left, but not before trying to renovate the property. Snapshots of the interior show a ladder left standing and sheets protecting the floor from the paint. Perhaps the owners first tried to repair the property before selling it and decided the renovations just weren’t worth it.
Maybe the new owners bought the property after the original owners left in a hurry attempted to renovate it, and decided it just wasn’t worth the cost. Maybe someone got bankrupt right in the middle of it all, as a mansion of this size takes millions and millions to upkeep. We’ll probably never know the real story behind why it was mysteriously left in the condition it’s in.