Dubbed the “Circus House” by urban photographer Bryan Sansivero, this abandoned mansion in New York looks like a relic lost to the past. The huge property boasts a main house, what appears to be a decrepit barn with overgrown grape vines, and a cottage. The journey you’re about to take inside and outside of the property will fill you with questions. What did this house use to be? How long has it been abandoned? Who originally owned it? Enjoy these photos of the abandoned Circus House along with our own speculation of what might have happened here.
Ivy Has Overtaken The Exterior
Looking at the outside of the Circus House, you can see nature slowly taking over the property. Ivy has grown up the walls, covering widows along the way. On the right side of the picture, the ivy has even started blanketing the roof.
For as calm and oddly serene as this nature takeover might seem, the decay that lives inside these walls paints a much different picture full of colorful peeling wallpaper, oddly placed objects, and an underlying sense of dread.
The Walls Are Peeling
As we enter the Circus House, we first see a large room with a fireplace that leads to two other rooms and a staircase. The paint has completely peeled off the roof and walls, and the floorboards are warped and cracked.
The sun coming through the window helps shine a light on the condition that the room has fallen into, although its past may have at one time been bright. This room may have hosted grand parties, but today has been left to the ghosts of those past festivities.
The Circus Begins
Here’s our first peek at why Bryan Sansivero dubbed this mansion ‘the Circus House.’ At the top of the staircase to the right is the entrance to a room. This room, although it’s not entirely clear yet, has a circus theme.
Did this room once belong to a child? Was the former owner of the house a performer? Unfortunately, we don’t have the answers to these questions. What we do know is that whoever owned this house left behind some strange objects as clues about their mysterious past.
Staircase Croquet, Anyone?
Every staircase in the Circus House has a story to tell, and this one happens to be one of the more interesting. We can’t imagine what went through Bryan Sansivero’s head as he approached to see each step decorated with a croquet ball.
The journey this staircase takes a person on is only made more clear as our exploration continues. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel, but it might only lead to more questions.
Under The Big Top
Here’s our first full-blown look at this once lively room. Looking at the clues left behind, we can make a few stunning speculations. What makes this room so impressive is just how good its condition is, compared to the other rooms.
While we thought for a moment this may have been a child’s room, it actually seems to resemble something closer to a storage area for sports equipment, or maybe a staging area for indoor sports.
Neatly Organized Croquet Mallets
One thing that stuck out to us in this room was just how organized these croquet mallets were. The balls seem to be thrown around haphazardly, but the mallets used to strike them are perfectly placed in their holder.
Croquet must have been one of the more popular games played by the house’s previous tenants. These are the only sporting remnants left behind for explorers to find. As you’ll see, however, these croquet supplies are not the oddest items left behind.
For When It’s Raining Outside
A decaying pink room in the Circus House was made to feel brighter at one point with the placement of an open umbrella. Opening an umbrella indoors is considered bad luck, though, which the house has apparently seen a lot of.
Maybe the umbrella was left by one of the former residents, or maybe it was discarded by an urban explorer who wanted to leave a memento of their own. Either way, it now exists as another piece of the wonder that lives inside these abandoned walls.
Go Play Outside
Let’s venture outside of the main house right now to wander the premises of the Circus House. Our first stop takes us to an old play area, complete with a playhouse, slide, and swingset.
Like the front of the main house, this playset is slowly being overtaken by nature. There is no clear path to walk to it, and the greenery has even begun climbing up the supports and the slide. What was once a fun place for young tenants is now a ghost story in the garden.
There was a time when a young child sat in one of these swings yelling “Higher! Higher!” to the parent or babysitter pushing them. Now the only thing trying to get in the swing is a series of mangled tree branches.
The last time this swingset was used for its intended purpose was likely decades ago. While the house has been home to several tenants, the simple pleasure of feeling the air flow past them lost its luster, and the swingset was laid to rest.
The Property Line?
Making his way past the playground Bryan Sansivero came across this fence. Fences like this could have been used for a few different purposes. If animals lived on the premises and were allowed to roam freely, this would ensure that they could not wander away.
Secondly, this fence could have simply been used to define the Circus House’s property line. With such a huge property, it would have been vital to know the boundaries, especially if there were plans to continue to build on the land.
A Barn With A Hidden Surprise
Continuing our tour of the property takes us to a barn. This area is in pretty decent shape, as nature has not taken over as much as in other places on the property. The actual nature of what this barn was used for, however, changed with every owner.
The question that needs to be answered, of course, is what treasures are hidden inside this abandoned structure. Because it’s separate from the main Circus House, it plays host to its own abandoned merriment.
Welcome To The Distillery
Inside the barn, the truth about its final use becomes clear. In one corner there’s a partially filled glass bottle next to an aging barrel. At the time the barn was abandoned, it had become a distillery.
There are a variety of jugs and bottles littering the shelves and floor, some still with old alcohol in them. This was probably a small operation, likely family owned and operated. We only wish we knew how long it was operational for.
A Closer Look
By taking a closer look at this distilling corner, Bryan was able to give us a better idea of what was used for making spirits here. It must have been a smaller operation, as there is the only aging barrel, meaning only one kind of alcohol was made here.
One of the bottles has a label on it, which is blurred in this image. The picture on the label is red, but it’s impossible to tell what the image is.
A Wine Making Operation
A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case possibly even more in cash. The distillery at the barn was a winery. These bottles never got their labels and never made it to market, if that’s where they were supposed to go.
After researching the wine label, Bryan was unable to find useful information. Through our own research, we were not able to find any history of the winery or even records of its existence. This leads us to believe it was a family operation never intended to be distributed to stores.
The Hidden Cottage
Hidden in a spot on the property and almost impossible to see is this house. Looking like it could be lived in today, it sits in stark contrast with the rest of the property. Stepping inside only further proves this point.
Of course, the overgrowth shows us that no one has lived here for years. With no walking path to the entrance, Bryan was forced to wade through the tall grass to reveal the secrets just inside the front door.
The First Window Crest
One of the first things we see in the cottage are what can best be described as crests on the windows. Bryan Sansivero took pictures of two of the crests, and this is the first one.
How this crest relates to the house or its past occupants is anybody’s guess. The man in the painting looks like a Spanish explorer. His red and yellow outfit matches the color of Spain’s flag. The jaguar flag he is holding above his head is the part that has us scratching our heads.
The Second Window Crest
Here is the second crest, which gives us more questions than the first one. This explorer is from an unknown region and is carrying a flag with a giant ram on it.
Interestingly, both of these crests have been placed in the bottom corner of each window’s middle pane. The person who designed the cottage at the Circus House went to great lengths to make this building special. When you see the bigger rooms here, you’ll understand just what we mean.
A Ghostly Game Of Backgammon
The main rooms of the cottage house are almost entirely made from dark wood. There is nothing in the way of decorations, and no signs of previous life except for a game of backgammon on the floor, just waiting for you to take a turn.
Are you ready to play? Was this game one that was interrupted and never finished by the original players? The room might not be as decayed as others, but it is creepier thanks to the abandoned board game.
The Empty Study
Another room that has been kept in surprisingly good condition is the cottage’s library. We’re guessing that is what this room was used for from the giant bookshelf lined up against the wall on the left.
The mural painted on the wall, which has taken some damage over the years, is still showing in vibrant detail. At one time it created a naturalistic background for whoever was taking a break from their every day lives to quietly read a book.
The Full Bookshelf
Staying in the study, Bryan turned his attention to the bookshelf, which is actually split into two units divided by a window lined with wine bottles. The sun shining through the green bottles reflects an eerie glow onto the ceiling perfectly between the peeling paint marks.
The blue on the floor is a little more mysterious. Whatever surface the wine bottles are sitting on is casting the ominous hue and leaving the hazy reflection on the floor.
The Back Of The Circus House
Now that we’ve revealed the secret of the winery, it’s time to go back inside the main building of the Circus House. This is what the property looks like from behind. It’s mostly flat and featureless and contains far less overgrowth than the front.
Looking at the Circus House from this side you would never be able to tell how empty it is on the inside. It’s a surprisingly quiet and serene scene against the backdrop of the bright blue sky.
A Peeling Staircase
The Circus House is full of staircases, and this one is possibly in the worst shape of them all. The stairs themselves look safe and stable, but the paint on the walls and the roof have created a scene straight from a horror movie.
The ceiling is almost completely stripped of paint, and the staircase is worn down in a way that looks like natural wear from hands running across it. The decay here shows us that life thrived in the main house at one point.
Staging The Big Show
One of the most interesting rooms on our tour is also one of the most confusing. It really is impossible to know what this decaying room was used for. The curtains look like ones that would be found in a child’s bedroom, although there is no sign of where a bed may have been placed.
The size of the room gives us other ideas, and the flooring also makes us think this may have been a showroom or staging area of some kind.
Keys For Everything
Every house needs a set of keys, and the Circus House is no different. While exploring, Bryan found these keys, each one labeled, allowing us to name each property correctly and learn what more about the Circus House’s history.
It is from these keys we learned that the third house was the cottage, and the largest house is the main house. The distillery is labeled as “Barn,” but it is clear from the items left inside that its purpose changed from its name a long time ago.
Almost No Paint Left To Peel
Here is one more angle from a familiar room in the Circus House’s main house, this time from the back wall near the staircase. In the connected room, we see light breathing life into the decay, but in the immediate area, we see paint almost entirely peeled away in the shadows.
This hall used to be one of the busiest spots in the house, but now it’s one of the most lost in time. The white walls underneath the decay show us what used to be before one owner brought color and a flair for the theatrics onto the premises.
Looking Down From The Top
Standing from the top of the staircase, an entirely new prospective is brought to this familiar location. The paint that has rained down onto the stairs like ashes is stunning to behold.
The “X” on the wall hints at a renovation that was never made. Instead, it was painted over, leaving the wall yellow and bare. And finally, there is the crescent of light at the curve, luring you to come downstairs again for a glimpse into the past.
The Cellar Door
Here’s a surprise! The door underneath the stairs that could have easily been a closet actually looks like the entrance to the cellar. There are no coat racks and the candle on the wall teases us that there is more to see.
Unfortunately, without the aid of artificial light, it becomes impossible to take good pictures of what’s inside the cellar. Chances are that it’s filled with wine. It was in the past, and there’s no reason not to think a few have been left behind.
The Blue Room
A spot we haven’t explored yet is this baby blue room that could have been used for a number of purposes. It could have been a master bedroom, allowing the owner of the house warmth from a fire during the cold winter.
Located on the second floor, another advantage of this room is the patio that the door leads to. There’s nothing like waking up in the morning and stepping outside for a little fresh air. And even though a lot of paint has chipped away, you can still see how much extra light from outside it reflects into the room.
A Lonely Fireplace
This isn’t the first fireplace we’ve seen, but it is possibly the Circus House’s most revealing one. An array of colors is presented here, from the charring left on the bricks from years of burning wood to the white wall the cuts directly into a yellow wall, and finally the door curtains with streaks of pink.
The main house at the Circus Property is splashed with unexpected color that is slowly fading with time. Without these pictures, the history of this building may have been lost forever.
The Umbrella Room, Revisited
With a wider view of the umbrella room, one aspect we missed before becomes incredibly clear. Thanks to Bryan Sansivero, we can see a room perfectly split in half between the past and the present.
On the left, the room looks almost impeccably preserved. But on the right, paint from the ceiling and wall has littered the floor with the life it used to be filled with. The brightness provided by the umbrella in the middle of the urban decay then helps make this difference even more noticeable.
Splashed With Color
This room provides quite a surprise. After seeing rooms with colorful patterns and single-color paint jobs, this is one of the first rooms where every surface is given its own personality through color.
The roof is blue like the sky. The wall on the right is a very familiar shade of yellow. And on the left is a sun-orange wall with patterned window shades. This splash of colors creates a culmination and celebration of every other room we’ve already ventured through.
The Long View
Taking a look down this hallway of the Circus House’s main structure shows a frame of decay around what used to flourish. Directly to the left and right and are yellow walls that have peeled away to reveal the primer underneath.
As your eyes move down the hall into the back room, however, notice how intact everything still looks. There’s even a sign of life at the end of the hall with croquet balls scattering the ground, waiting to be played with again.
The Wonders Of What Could Have Been
This is the third and final room with a fireplace on our tour. This room is also the first one painted in green. Outlined with yellow, a greenish hue makes its home on the walls.
Still, it could be another color that has changed with the passing years, just like every other aspect of this abandoned house. Who knows how many colors this home has seen over the course of its life.
Let Playtime Begin
We can’t help but look at this room and think that a young child once played here. With the lively color scheme, it’s impossible not to see the newest member of a family making this their favorite room.
Was there ever a family who lived here? It’s impossible to know, but it’s hard to imagine this house didn’t see people grow up and create the best memories while they lived here.
The Blue Sun
While most of this ceiling’s paint is gone, the blue sun lighting the way for its occupants has stayed as intact as long as it possibly could. It might no longer be a guiding light for those looking for assistance, but it’s not ready to set into the night.
No matter how decayed the Circus House may get, we hope this sun serves as a reminder that no situation is set in stone. Someone could end up buying the abandoned house and fill it with the sunlight that has been slowly growing dimmer year after year.
Rooms With A View
This shot by Bryan Sansivero shows a nice contrast between two rooms in the house that are painted with a brilliant imagination versus the bland halls, ushering residents to their destinations. The only thing every wall on the property has in common is peeling paint.
From room to room the main house is an unpredictable maze of spaces. None of them match, but each of them holds a magic secret inside meant to be enjoyed. If only that was still true today.
Up Through The Rabbit Hole
Usually, the saying goes “down the rabbit hole” but in this case, we think “up the rabbit hole” is more fitting. Considering the singular uniqueness of the Circus House property, it only makes sense that one of the most stunning pictures would be a look straight up the staircase.
Looking up toward the ceiling, we really get a good look at how sturdy the house is. Even as paint has peeled and folded and wood has warped, the structure still stands tall and proud.
A Lot Of Room Going To Waste
By taking a wide shot of this room, Bryan Sansivero was able to showcase just how large the rooms in the main house of the property are. In an earlier picture of this room, if you remember, it looked much smaller and cramped.
From this angle, it’s clear how much space was there to roam for anyone who lived here. Throughout the years, the main house has housed several residents. Originally built in 1925, the personalities still lingering in the house are there, even if they can’t be seen.
A Last Look At The Barn
As we take one last look at the barn that was turned into a winery it’s impossible not to notice just how alone this set of buildings looks. Once alive with the smells of grapes and oak wood, it has since given itself back to nature.
The new smells that have taken over are really a return to the original. The trees and grass that always grew here now dominate and have reclaimed their rightful place throughout the area.
A Last Look At The Main House
For years the Circus House has been left to decay in the urban jungle. Without the help of Bryan Sansivero, it may have been lost forever. Grass has grown without regard for the former owners. Paint has peeled, showing the layers of memories contained within the walls of the house.
And today, all we can do is wonder what used to be. Who used to roam these halls? Play in these yards? What happened to let this house that turned it into a relic of the past, standing proudly defiant of the present?