The story of a forgotten America.

Ventures Into a Collapsing Abandoned House

Have you ever ventured into a long-abandoned house that is on its last legs? Literally, being held up on its last 2″×4″ legs? This yellow clapboard-sided house, owned by a 90-year former wife of a well-regarded African music pioneer, is located in upstate New York and has been abandoned for well over a decade.

Water intrusion from a failing roof system over the years has allowed the wood joists and framing to deteriorate to the point that makeshift supports on the ground floor prop up the second floor. Just as sketchy are the tables and desks holding up a ladder that extends into the rafters and the obviously large hole in the roof that was once covered by a tarpaulin sheet.

The kitchen featured an antique white porcelain enamel four-burner gas stove and oven, a hanging cloth apron, a thankfully empty refrigerator in the other room, and a rarity—a wide cooking fireplace that was insulated from the rest of the house by a thick load-bearing wall. Then revolutionary wood-burning cookstoves replaced the inefficient kitchen fireplaces.

Just as interesting was the tiny bathroom which featured two toilets that faced each other. Adjacent was a bedroom that was featured two beds that came complete with bedspreads, blankets, and pillows. The furnishings were most likely not original to the last tenant and were most likely brought to the site by someone who was homeless or a wayward hitchhiker.

Unfortunately, efforts to save the house from complete ruin have all but failed. The plastic tarpaulin sheets that covered the gaping holes in the roof have long come apart because of the effects of ultraviolet rays, and water intrusion have taken hold throughout the building leading to significant wall separations, foundation failures, and other structural ailments. Surprisingly, the abandoned residence has power although I am unsure as to what electrical socket is hot—not that I am too concerned with finding out.

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