- Spree Park, Berlin, Germany
- Hotel del Salto in Colombia - featured previously on Curious History
- Gulliver’s Travels Park, Kawaguchi, Japan
- Abandoned mill in Sorrento, Italy
- Mirny (Mir) Mine is a former open pit diamond mine located in Mirny, Eastern Siberia, Russia - The second largest man-made hole in the world
- The abandoned flats in Keelung, Taiwan
- Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, United States
- Craco is an abandoned commune and Medieval village in Italy
- Dadipark Dadizel in Belgium
- Abandoned train depot in Czestochowa, Poland
The Amazing Medieval “Hobbit” Stone Houses of Staffordshire
Welcome to Holy Austin Rock in Staffordshire, England. These medieval cave houses carved from sandstone were abandoned by the last residents in the 1960s, but people were living happily inside them for over three centuries before that, possibly even earlier. Today the National Trust has faithfully restored the houses belonging to the last near dozen families that lived in the community, using early photographs, postcards and records to re-create what the houses would have been like in the late Victorian era.
The first official records of the Rock Houses appear in an 18th century book, Letters on the Beauties of Hagley, Envil and the Leasowes with Critical Remarks and Observations on the Modern Taste in Gardening by Joseph Healey. In the book, Healey gets caught in a thunderstorm when he finds the cave homes and asks to take shelter. He describes the homes as well-furnished, ”curious, warm and commodious and the garden extremely pretty”. Healey also notes that the residents had access to water and were extremely welcoming and proud of their homes, delighted even to recount the stories of their ancestors who had built them.
With stunning views over the woodland from the rosy sandstone ridge, these white-washed houses are something out of a storybook. In fact, many people believe that they are featured in a very well-known book published in 1937, The Hobbit. The opening line of J. R. R. Tolkien’s book states, “The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with paneled walls and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats – the hobbit was fond of visitors.” Tolkien was famously reluctant to name the places that inspired his stories. In fact, there are so many similarities between the 18th century Holy Austin Rock Houses and Tolkien’s description of the Hobbit holes that it becomes an obvious assumption that he must have seen or read about these remarkable dwellings.
Being the last occupied troglodyte dwellings in Britain, Holy Austin Rock has been an off-beat tourist attraction since Edwardian times. Residents would welcome visitors and serve refreshments right in their living room or in their front gardens taking in the views of the English countryside. Sadly, there are no cave dwellers to welcome tourists today. A single cafe remained open until 1967, by which time all other families had moved away and their homes had already begun to decay. The majority of residents left their homes between 1900 and 1935 to find work in cities following an economic crises in the area which halted the local ironworks production.
Graffiti taggers and local teens made their mark on the empty caves until 1968. At this point they were sealed off, deemed a safety hazard and seemingly forgotten by England. Over 20 years later funds were made available by the National Trust to embark on an ambitious restoration project, as the caves were declared a national treasure.
We love abandoned mansions, especially haunted ones.
- The Charles M.Sublett House on Millionaire Row in Danville, Virginia. This Victorian Gothic style home was built in 1874 by Mr. Sublett for his bride Jennie Cosby. It has 3 1/2 stories and is supposedly haunted in this historic district.
- This fabulous mansion is an example of George F. Barber’s design no. 37 from “New Model Dwellings” in Fleischmanns, New York.
- Abandoned home in Paris, Texas, reportedly built and occupied by one of it’s former mayors. The front porch slightly warms what is otherwise a very cold, haunted-looking house. According to neighbors, the top-floor had been a ballroom back in the day.
- Haunted mansion in Montgomery, Alabama.
- Built in 1980, Victorian Stone Manor Built In Sharon, Pennsylvania features 22 rooms and 8 fireplaces, covering over 16,000 square feet.
The Haunted Manor in Gdansk, Poland
In Gdansk, a charming city in Northern Poland, there is a hill. Local residents still refer to it as “Devil’s Hill” due to an old legend. The legend states that this little hill, surrounded by a deep forest and swamps, was a favorite place for witch gatherings. During these gatherings, it is said that some nasty demons were summoned. Legend also says that a very large stone located on the top of the hill was brought there by the devil.
In 1886, the mansion was a home to a restaurant and between 1925 and 1933 it was the headquarters to the Gdansk Freemason’s lodge. After World War 2, the mansion was used as a local television station’s headquarters. All occupants believed the building was haunted and was continuously disturbed by “unknown” forces.
Today the building remains derelict and no one claims ownership. Many of its floors are highly unstable and the south wing of the mansion didn’t survive last winter as two floors collapsed. The only reason the entire building is still standing is due to a solid external wall.
Abandoned Los Feliz Murder Mansion
It’s a murder mystery that has puzzled the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles since 1959. On the night of December 6, 1959, in a mansion that sits on a Los Feliz hilltop, Dr. Harold Perelson struck his wife to death with a hammer, severely beat his 18-year-old daughter, and then ended his own life by drinking a glass of acid. Police found Perelson lying dead on the floor next to his wife’s blood-soaked bed. He was still clutching the hammer. On a nightstand next to his bed, investigators found an open copy of Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” which was opened to Canto 1. “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost … ,” read the passage.
For the next fifty years, the mansion would remain completely untouched and uninhabited by anyone.
A year after the gruesome murder-suicide, the mansion was sold to a couple, Emily and Julian Enriquez, who only used the 5,050-square-foot house as a storage site. Neighbors recall seeing the couple bringing boxes to the mansion, but never staying overnight. In 1994, Rudy Enriquez inherited the house and, like his parents, neither stayed nor made any changes to the Perelson’s old decor.
Local neighbors and brave visitors of the Perelson mansion have shared their tales. Through grimy windows, one can see a 1950s-style television set, a Christmas tree, and neatly-wrapped gifts. The furniture is covered in a thick layer of dust and the living room remains the exact same as it was that one December night as shown in the pictures above.
Rudy Enriquez, now a 77-year old retired music manager, has refused to sell the property. The exterior of the mansion is in slow decay, and the local neighbors have had to pitch in to help maintain the property.
Though no one has been formally invited into the home, it is rumored that the mansion attracted trespassers for some time. Former neighbors have even witnessed people having picnics in the backyard. One trespasser alleges that the house is haunted and that she was bitten by a black widow spider upon trying to break in. An alarm system has been installed and, to this day, remains one of the only changes made to the Perelson’s old home.
No one knows what exactly prompted Dr. Perelson to commit those atrocities fifty years ago. Some have speculated financial woes, while others have dug up old, unconfirmed rumors of Dr. Perelson having been secretly hospitalized. All three Perelson children survived the incident, though none have been mentioned in the media since.
What remains an even larger mystery is why the current owner has left the scene of the crime almost exactly as it was in 1959.
Curious History’s Recommended Top Ten Posts for September, 2013
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- Still-Practiced Pagan Ritual Costumes - 22,589
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- The “Hello Kitty” Caterpillar - 18,420
- Stunning Metal Sculptures from Old Watch Parts - 13,657
- The Amazing Fly Geyser - 11,444
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These were the most popular for the month of September. Click on a link to check them out. October will have a Halloween theme so stay tuned.
Abandoned Igloo Hotel — 200 Miles from Nowhere, Alaska
Along a well-traversed, albeit remote, stretch of Alaska highway sits an irregular structure. Abandoned and neglected for over 40 years, “Igloo City” stands as a dilapidated, four-story shell positioned 180 miles north of Anchorage along the George Parks Highway.
Lack of financing put a halt to construction years ago. The windows were built too small and did not meet Alaska’s building codes. Despite the Igloo’s forsaken appearance, the structure is mostly well loved. The local press has taken a harsh view of the Igloo calling it an “architectural monstrosity,” a “towering blob of a structure” and a “proverbial sore thumb,” among other things. But locally the Igloo is still regarded as a welcome landmark.
Brad Fisher, the hotel’s owner, is open to anyone interested in making an offer on Igloo City as long as they’re willing to do the work necessary to renovate it into a working hotel. Fisher states, “I’d love to one day see it in operation…I think most people are fascinated by it. Sure, the architecture’s not anything fantastic, but it was more or less built by one man (and) structurally, for that area, it’s one of the best designs you could have.”