Astonishing Photos of a Forgotten Circus House in New York That Will Leave You Asking Questions

Wed Jul 31 2019

Astonishing photos courtesy of Bryan Sansivero / Instagram.

Ever wondered what it would be like to time travel? If you take a look at this relic we’re about to show you, you’ll be wondering no longer! Situated in the heart of New York sits a mansion you can tell was once oozing with character but, as time went on, it has now been left to decay. Now the question is: what’s its story?

We watch movies about creepy mansions, but this is probably the first time any of us have gotten close to a real one! Sitting on several acres of land, this mansion was once quite the attraction when it opened it’s doors many years ago. Once the owners packed their bags, everything changed, but can we recapture its history? Popular Everything is going to find out.

A Forgotten Project

Sadly, we’ll never know for sure the real answers behind the owners of this home packing up and leaving such a unique abode; talk about being left on a cliffhanger! If we consulted the allegations made about this “circus house” it would appear there’s no other choice but to make your own assumptions. It’s like a DIY fairytale!

So, was it owned by a family heavily involved in the clowning business that decided on a career change? Or perhaps an interior designer who regularly changed up their theme? Going through our descriptive tour of the place, it’s our duty to make a series of educated guesses as to who the owners were, and why they made certain decorative choices. Mysterious…

Paying it a Visit

Ok, so what we know (or can assume) about this creepy mansion is that it was built around the year 1925, and abandoned just a few decades later. So, why are we discussing it now, all these years later? One man decided to face his fears, and investigate what the decrepit property looks like in the present day. Better him than us!

Filmmaker and photographer Bryan Sansivero is the brave hero to this story. Living in New York, the creative cameraman likes to travel the world, fulfilling his mission into urban exploration. In other words, he likes taking pictures of old, abandoned buildings! Stumbling across this decaying circus house, the photographer was met by an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Bryan’s Goal

To get a feel for Bryan’s mission, one must investigate his impressive snapshots, no matter how much they may creep you out! It’s interesting to note through these haunting images that despite the mansion being neglected for so many years, remnants of a chilling past still manage to live on.

Had this mansion been discovered earlier and got renovated into something a little more modern and livable, we would never have known its history! Without further ado, let us take you on a tour to one of the kookiest mansions we’ve ever seen, giving you a little taste of what its history may have consisted of.

In the Beginning

As you would when entering any house, let’s start at the front! Getting past the grand entrance, one is met by a swarm of overgrown plants and shrubbery, which almost acts as a precursor for what is about to ensue. In simpler terms, the unkempt exterior prepares you for an even more unkempt interior!

If you focus really, really hard, you can tell by the brightly painted doors leading to the entrance of the house, that this was once quite the elegant opening, possibly impressing quite a lot of its visitors back in the day. As we enter the various twists and turns of this mansion, you’ll find it’s history much easier to grapple if you use your imagination!

Crumbling at Every Corner

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s look inside! Immediately, the first thing we notice about this entrance room is the crumbling walls which have fallen to the ground and various cracks in the floorboards; when we told you this house had got neglected, we really meant it.

While the light shining through the windows now just highlights the overall decay of the place, back in its heyday, we presume it created a much more pleasant atmosphere. If we turn our minds back to an earlier time, we can almost picture the social gatherings that went on in this room. What a difference a little time can make!

A Sign of the Times

If this room near the staircase could talk, we’re pretty sure it would be uttering the plea “paint me!” It may be in desperate need for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew to pay it a visit, but we’re secretly glad they didn’t. This way, we get another attempt to reverse back to an earlier lifetime.

Combining educated guesses and common sense, we would assume this particular area was often the busiest part of the entire house. Guests would shuffle through here to join their friends for a drink in the entrance room, while a fireplace brought a homely warmth. It’s pretty ironic this room was once the most popular and is now the most decaying!

A Guessing Game

We wonder if the decorator was feeling a little blue on the day he had to paint this room! Investigating this certain area of the mansion’s second floor, about a million questions enter our minds. Was this an upstairs living room? Or possibly a master bedroom? It’s totally up to you to decide the answer.

This may be a pretty old room, but it’s full of smart inventions. Check out the patio the left-hand side doors lead out to, it’s like an old-fashioned balcony! Taking our minds back to the time this home was occupied, you can just imagine the owner waking up on a summer’s day, and walking outside to feel the warm breeze of the morning.

Save It for a Rainy Day

We can almost hear Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” looking at this room. Pink walls would’ve once made this space one of the most exciting places to chill; so bright you needed an umbrella! That was before time ran it’s course and decayed the walls. Thanks to Sansivero’s camera skills, we can see perfectly the contrast between then and now.

It’s all about getting that good lighting! On the left-hand side of the room, a bright light from outdoors shines through to a fairly well-kept space, and indeed, a view the original owners would have been met by. It is not until we shift our eyes to the right-hand side that reality kicks in; the walls and floor are in a much worse condition.

Welcome to the Circus

While Bryan was busy discovering the best angles to show off this decrepit mansion, he came up with a little nickname for the place. So far, the “circus house” element of this property seems a little confusing to all of us, it’s a mansion after all, not a red and white striped tent! It’s not until we dig deeper into the interior that his ideas become clear.

Well, this is certainly unique! We can only presume that the interior decorators were a bunch of red-nosed comic performers because we’re definitely getting some Pennywise vibes as we reach the top of the staircase. As we continue through the house, the clown-like clues start screaming out at us.

Home for Little Ones

You can take the details of this mansion in two completely different ways: either as a form of heightening the general weirdness of the place, or simply the evidence you were looking for to prove that life did once exist in this mansion and since it’s abandonment that life has frozen in time.

Wow! This room is in pretty good condition. Ok, so it may have crumbling wall pieces scattered across the floor, but much less than other parts of the house! While your initial guesses would be to label this part of the house as perhaps a children’s bedroom, the objects inside tell a different story. Croquet balls and bats suggest this was maybe a sports room? Who knows.

A Joker’s Bathroom

The owners of this mansion weren’t clowning around! Or maybe they were. As you can see, the residents were keen to stick with their circus theme throughout a couple of areas of their large house. Take a look at this bathroom for example; we may as well be taking a step inside Cirque du Soleil!

They say that a man’s home is his castle, but had that same man been around to witness the current state of his bathroom, he might consider this room to be a part of the servant’s quarters! Starting from the ceilings and trickling down the walls, decaying wallpaper is slowly peeling off, making for something far less attractive than the original.

An Indoor Sky

It’s crazy to think what a little time can do. As we continue to inspect this circus-themed room, you’ll notice the rotting of paint above. The main feature on this ceiling, the blue sun, remains triumphant in staying intact, however. Could we be looking at a powerful metaphor here?

Ok, so the blue sun may not be the first thing someone sees as they wake up anymore, but it serves an important function, or at least we think so! Years of abandonment may have sent this mansion into rotting decay, but there is still hope that someone out there could buy this place, and let that sun continue to shine brightly!

Room for Nothing

It’s not an easy business taking pictures, you know! Keen to make his photographs stand out, Bryan took on a specific approach when capturing this colorful room. What was it? He wanted to prove a point about the size of it, and as you can see here, it’s pretty big!

Vantage points can make one heck of a difference. The photographer has taken a couple of spaces back in this fireplace room to show that during it’s prime, a number of residents occupied the space. It seems a little sad then that now, the room is empty. The only movement it sees is when a piece of crumbling wall paint falls to the ground!

Screaming Character

If there’s one thing you should focus on when touring around these dilapidated rooms, it’s the hidden extras. What were once the little details of this mansion, have now paved the way for an entire history! The next segment of this tour takes us straight to a second staircase. This one is maybe a little more fascinating than the first.

What’s so great about this place? We had our suspicions, but at this point, we’re almost certain that children once ran around the corridors of this twentieth-century home. People are always competing to get the most alluring staircase whether it be straight, winder or spiral; but have you ever seen one decorated with croquet balls?

Room for the Unknown

Let the confusion ensue! So far, we’ve been making some pretty well-educated guesses to assume the purpose of each room in the house, but this one has us well-and-truly stumped. All we can say is the place was probably in a much better condition all those years ago than the decaying rot it represents today!

While the curtains in this room resemble something you might see in the children’s bedroom, there’s no evidence of a bed ever sitting inside. What’s more, the sheer size of the room seems a little too big for a young child to be roaming around in. So, once again, we have to just place our bets and hope for the best.

An Unexpected View

Perspective really is everything. Looking at this unique residence from a different angle can have it looking like something completely different. Take the staircase for instance; face on it merely looks like a crumbling structure ready to break through, but from the bottom up, it resembles something far more impressive. Don’t you agree?

This is a huge surprise! Are we even looking at the same staircase here? Yes, there are still crumbling pieces of wall paint scattered all around the place, but after all these years the structure still manages to look surprisingly fixed. Out of all the impressive pictures Sansivero took of this huge mansion, we think this one was the money shot!

House for Kids

That’s quite enough interior inspection for one day, let’s take our tour outside now! If you still weren’t 100% sure whether children did live in this mansion, or it just homed some fairly eccentric adults, the image below should shut down any further reservations!

Stepping into the fresh air, we’re met by an old children’s play-set. Before you can marvel and the shed’s impressive woodwork, your eyes are quickly drawn to the overgrowing shrubbery that is slowly starting to encompass the whole climbing frame. Once again, we’re going to have to put our imaginations to the test when picturing how this frame was once used!

The Great Outdoors

Let’s take a closer look at this climbing frame. To cut our imaginations some slack, it make things easier if we focus on single parts of the play-set for now, and work our way through it all. Who remembers seeing one of these bad boys in their own backyard? It’s safe to say, our versions were all a little better preserved.

Oh, how time flies! Once again, our credits go to the photographer here. Bryan has managed to capture this swing set at an angle that highlights the dangers of time. Several decades ago, children sat and laughed as their parents swung them higher and higher into the air, but now it would appear the broken-off tree branches are the only things this ride entertains.

The Secret Beauties

Breaking news: there’s a second building! If you keep your eyes peeled towards the end of the backyard, you’ll be able to spot this beauty. Immediately gazing inside the cottage library, we can’t help but notice how much more well-kept it seems to be compared to the rest of the mansion, in fact, it doesn’t even look abandoned! Are there secret tenants living inside?

Whoops, our mistake! Taking a more careful look now, you’ll spot the decaying paint crumbling off from the ceiling and dust collecting around the floor; the neglect becomes quite clear now. Not to mention the bookshelves are utterly cleared! We’re fascinated to see what the rest of this unusual cottage is going to be like.

Dripping in Dark Wood

This really is quite the contrast! As opposed to the circus-like decor and technicolor walls in the mansion, the interior of this hideaway couldn’t be more conventional. With dark wood everywhere you turn, there doesn’t appear to be any life screaming at us this time; perhaps we need to give it a deeper look?

The only thing proving humans did once occupy this space is a game of backgammon placed on the floor. Now comes the time to let our imaginations run wild! After an active summer’s day on the play-set would the children often retire into the cottage for a quick game of backgammon? We’ll never know, but it seems likely.

A Couple of Crests

Meeting our gaze across the windows of the cottage are these beautiful window crests. Bryan got a pretty good shot of these designs, but it’s beyond us what relevance they hold to the rest of the home. Were the occupants big fans of explorers? It really is anybody’s guess at this point.

Judging by the red and yellow colorings on this explorer’s outfit, we can only assume this is a Spanish explorer, but that’s about the only thing we can get out of it! All we know that it makes a stunning feature to the bottom corner of this window’s middle pane.

Home of the Spirits

If you’re interested in the supernatural, you might believe spirits wander around old spaces like the abandoned “circus house,” but in this barn, a different kind of spirit was welcomed! That’s right, in the heart of this property sat an alcohol distillery. The surprises of this place are coming in hot and heavy at this point.

The clues are all there: empty bottles on the floor, and an aging barrel sat in the corner. Who knows what type of alcohol was in the process of its manufacture before these people moved on with their lives? At this point, all we can do is guess how many people were involved in such an interesting operation.

The Family Winery

Bryan’s done it again! Keen to answer our questions about the history of this space, the photographer focused on a smaller aspect of the room. Observing these bottles, we can make a fairly good assumption that this distillery was, in fact, a winery! So, was it a successful one that ended up making the mansion-owners their millions? Not exactly.

After giving the world wide web a consultation, Bryan Sansivero was unsuccessful in finding any evidence about this wine business. Given this fact, we can assume the winery was a small family venture, used solely to cater for any guests paying a visit to the barn.

The Labeling System

We seem to know the names of every property we’ve encountered here, but surprisingly, that’s about the only thing on this list that wasn’t an educated guess! With great thanks to the man behind the camera, we are able to learn the proper names for each part of the “circus house.” Plus, it makes for a pretty cool picture!

Let’s take a look. The first part of the mansion we inspected was called the “Main House.” The “Cottage” is where guests would retreat to play a couple of board games, while the “Barn” entertained anyone who had an interest in the family winery. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this particular snapshot is worth an entire history!

Property Number Two

Now that we’ve covered everything you need to know about this potential circus house that’s been left to decay, it’s time to focus on another one of Bryan’s urban exploration projects! Trust us, you’re in for a surprise this time around! Without further ado, let us introduce you to the Marion Carll Farmhouse in New York’s Long Island.

This abode has quite the story! After failing to conjure up enough funding in the nineties, the residents of this farmhouse have been forced to exit the property. As you can probably guess by the decaying walls, this home has remained abandoned ever since! Sansivero was keen to get straight inside and find out as much as he could about the place.

Stepping Inside

This property couldn’t be more different from the circus house if it tried! If you were looking for a quick history lesson, you’ve certainly got one here. What’s the first thing that our eyes are drawn to upon entering this unique abode? That would be the photographs. Finally, some solid evidence into what the owner was like!

Let’s break it down for you. The former owner of this place, district teacher Marlon Carll was born in the year 1885. It might require just a little imagination, but this place was once quite a grand-looking space for pupils to meet, and get on with their educational work. How much a contrast it poses now, with decaying furniture everywhere you turn!

Staircase of Imagination

Let’s take a walk upstairs! Scratch that, let’s first just take a look at the stairs full stop. This place may have been abandoned for decades, but despite everything, we think the stair carpet still looks in fairly good condition. We can only imagine that centuries ago, this was once quite a brightly-lit section of the room. How times have changed!

Decaying walls in one corner, and crumbling ceilings the next; it may not be so pretty, but it sure is an urban explorer’s dream! Historical records confirm this property first came into being during 1860, and it certainly got given a makeover after Carll set up camp! In an attempt to modernize the property, this teacher tried to maintain a 19th century feel in the design.

Charm at Every Corner

It comes as no surprise to learn that the Supreme Court in New York fought so hard to regain ownership of this property, it just oozes so much character! Each room in this historical home tells a different story about Carll and her way of life, so let’s now move on to the kitchen chapter of the tale!

Where do we begin here? Marion Carll’s daily life becomes much clearer to us after seeing this image. Placed neatly in this grand kitchen dresser sits a collection of surprisingly well-kept crockery that plated the owner’s meals. Here’s a little trivia for you: this Blue Willow pattern was a common style in the late 19th century. Talk about keeping up with the trends!

Decades of Dining

It’s dinner time! We’re now moving to possibly one of the most sociable rooms in the house, the dining room! If you were looking for an excuse to catapult yourself into an earlier era, this is the image you were looking for to do so. While the majority of Marion’s home was used for educational purposes, this room was for good food and good entertainment.

So, what exactly are we looking at here? Sat right in the center of this lavish room is a large, stable wooden table with a side cabinet that shows off some of the family’s most-expensive glass and china, saved for only the most important of guests! We bet dinner parties during Carll’s occupancy were a lot more regal than what it would look like today!

The Bathroom of the Past

Bathrooms today seem to be getting more and more modern, from LED lights to jacuzzi baths, the possibilities are endless! For these reasons, taking a look into the lavatory of Marion Carll acts as a real breath of fresh air. It’s not too common to see this many antiques in a modern-day room of this kind!

It may be a little rusty, but it’s good to see that after all these decades, everything seems to still be in place! Even in a room as mundane as the bath/washroom, Carll liked to keep up appearances with the extravagant gilded mirror standing tall in the room. To follow the trend, the clapboard walls follow the classic style of New England at this time.

Passion for Fashion

Let’s recap on what we’ve discovered so far. Marion Carll was a lover of all things educational, who enjoyed keeping up with recent interior trends. After inspecting more parts of the house, Bryan has made it clear that there’s another side to this homeowner we’ve not yet established. What is it? Her love of style!

Time has taken it’s toll a little in this room, as the walls are completely cracked! What we’re more interested in though, is the items in front of the wall. In traditional 19th century style, this clothing dummy is draped in a tight corset and cage crinoline. It may not be the next look set for New York Fashion Week now, but back in the day, this getup was all the rage!

Disaster Bedroom

The time has come to pay the more intimate side of Carll’s residence a visit. Back in the 19th century, this district teacher liked to keep her master bedroom in immaculate condition. In many ways, this room acted as an escape for the teacher to forget about the day’s troubles and focus on her dressmaking!

Well, we’re not sure how impressed Miss. Carll would be with the state of this room now! Sadly, decades of abandonment have turned this once-pristine room upside down. This space once created a mood of relaxation, but now the crumbling walls, broken furniture and debris just scream neglect.

Withering Walls

It really is a shame what can happen if you don’t look after things! While the blue wallpaper in this extra room from the farmhouse looks like it’s on its way out, there are a few remnants that we can use as further evidence into what life was like during an earlier time. Educational or what?

So, what historical features can we find in this room? Well, if you look closely you’ll see a painting by US artist, John Trumbull. His Declaration of Independence piece was easily his most notable work, so you’d have to consider yourself pretty fortunate to be able to get your hands on one of these copies!

The Final Frontier

Let’s now travel way up north, to the top of this property! The attic room of the farmhouse has certainly seen better days, as it almost looks like decades of abandonment has lead to an explosion of pillow feathers! You’d need a whole team of experts to whip this area into shape if anyone chose to move back in.

It can only be assumed that this upper part of the house was used for servants to reside in after a long, hard day of keeping up the domestic chores! Of course, housing conditions for these members of society were never exactly extravagant, but they were at least a little more pleasant than the current state of this room!