Explore This Abandoned All-American House Steeped In History

In 2019, Bryan Sansivero, a photographer who specializes in capturing abandoned places, got the chance to explore a captivating Federal-style house in Virginia. However, there was a catch: he had to promise not to disclose its exact location. Filled with intriguing pieces of American history, this house is a true hidden treasure. The locals are determined to keep its whereabouts a secret to safeguard both the house and its valuable contents. Take a virtual tour of this remarkable property frozen in time by clicking or scrolling below.

Nestled behind a veil of mature trees, the once-grand clapboard house remained a hidden gem, known only to a select few locals. Renowned urbex photographer Bryan Sansivero learned of its existence through a network of local explorers and had to navigate through thick foliage to gain entry. Inside, he made a poignant discovery: the former owner and his family lay at rest in a small graveyard nestled in the backyard.

Constructed in 1929 to replace a mansion built a century earlier, this frame building was once the residence of a distinguished educator and influential politician, who lived here with his family. A graduate of the esteemed College of William and Mary, the former owner, who passed away in the late 1970s, played a significant role in advocating for the desegregation of Virginia’s school system in the 1950s and 1960s.

Stepping into the house feels like a journey through time. The first room you encounter, the parlour, was once a space for receiving guests, adorned with elegant antique furniture like the Eastlake fainting couch. Remarkably, everything remains as it was when these photos were taken, including the portraits adorning the walls.

The parlour boasts a striking marble fireplace and a sprawling Persian carpet that nearly covers the entire hardwood floor. A majestic brass chandelier hangs from the ceiling, casting a warm glow, while an opulent gilt mirror commands attention on the wall facing the entrance.

In the elegant room, a modern Gothic writing desk crafted by New York’s Kimbel and Cabus firm catches the eye. This oak bureau, a coveted piece of Americana from the 1870s, holds considerable value and is a sought-after item among collectors. A similar desk can be found in The Met Museum of Modern Art.

Resting on the desk’s surface is an old document alongside a pair of broken spectacles. These bureaus often fetch thousands of dollars at prestigious art and antique auctions.

Once the abode of a prominent politician, this house was inhabited by an educated and cultured family deeply involved in Washington’s affairs. Throughout the space, you’ll find an array of old books, including a century-old etching of President Lincoln, reflecting the family’s fervent patriotism.

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The walls are adorned with family photographs, offering glimpses into the past. One daguerreotype captures a trio clad in attire typical of the 1860s, suggesting it was taken during the tumultuous era of the Civil War.

As you step into the hallway, the grand sweeping staircase immediately commands attention. An upright piano, once a source of family entertainment, adds to the charm of the space. Though signs of wear and tear are evident, the structural integrity of the building remains intact.

Adjacent to the main hallway, a cozy sitting room offers a retreat for the family, ideal for quiet moments with a good book or basking in the warmth of the fire. Like the parlour, it boasts a brass chandelier and is painted in a striking sea green hue.

On the mantelpiece, gilt-framed family photographs from the 1860s rest alongside profile portrait miniatures depicting individuals in 18th-century attire, adding a touch of nostalgia to the room.

A closer look reveals the intricate detail of the profile portrait miniatures, showcased beautifully in this shot. The photograph on the left is elegantly displayed in an Adirondack Eastlake picture frame adorned with corner leaf motifs, a popular style from the 1890s.

In this room, you’ll find another elegant writing bureau, a testament to the family’s penchant for correspondence. With the patriarch’s prominent political role, maintaining a space for composing letters was undoubtedly essential. A photograph of a young man, likely a family member, adorns the space, showcasing a more modern image from the early to mid-20th century.

Given the family’s political ties, it’s no surprise to find a plethora of photographs featuring former presidents and other dignitaries. One notable piece is a black and white photo capturing President John F. Kennedy alongside his wife, Jackie. The former owner’s involvement in a Democratic organization during Kennedy’s 1960 election adds significance to this particular image.

Moving on to the dining room, you’ll encounter yet another grand Persian carpet, complemented by intricate floral wallpaper and a dazzling brass chandelier. The room is furnished with a sideboard, reminiscent of the exquisite craftsmanship of New York furniture makers Kimbel and Cabus, akin to the writing bureau in the parlour.

Notably, the floral wallpaper appears to be a recent addition, impeccably preserved. A built-in corner cabinet adds further charm to the room, likely used to showcase the family’s cherished china collection.

These three photographs likely date back to the late 19th century or the early 20th century, evident from the fashion and style depicted. The woman in the image to the right wears an evening dress typical of the 1890s and the turn of the 20th century.

Peering into the cupboard, you’ll catch a glimpse of the family’s cherished china collection, including a stunning white and gold floral set alongside delicate porcelain plates and teacups. It’s uncommon to find such well-preserved treasures in abandoned houses, highlighting why the location had to remain undisclosed.

Among all the rooms, the upstairs landing appears to be in the most dilapidated state. Sections of plaster have peeled away from the ceiling, paintwork is flaking, and signs of dampness mar the walls.

A worn family portrait, likely from the Victorian era, hangs on the weary upper landing wall beside a striking arched doorway. Adjacent to it, a decorative wall sconce exudes an American Art Nouveau aesthetic, adding a touch of elegance to the space.

The master bedroom, washed in calming blue tones, showcases a stunning solid oak Eastlake bed, renowned for its towering headboard and timeless appeal. Likely crafted during the late 19th century, this bed would have been a cherished investment meant to endure through the years.

In the smaller bedroom, another charming wooden four-poster bed takes center stage, echoing the craftsmanship of the late 19th century. As with most rooms in the house, a fireplace adds warmth and character, a vital feature in an era predating central heating.

Other furnishings in the room include a claw-legged chest of drawers, a pristine white dressing table paired with a tile-top washstand, and a rustic rocking chair for moments of repose. Take note of the wrought iron poker resting beside the fireplace, adding a rustic touch.

Preserved in its original state since its construction in the 1920s, the house remains unmodernized, offering a glimpse into the past. Like many older homes, it boasts only one small bathroom, albeit one that has seen better days. While the bath remains intact, the washbasin has been removed, leaving behind only the stand as a relic of bygone days.

As you can see from this image, the original doors to this bedroom are, like the home’s other doors, in perfect condition. Despite the years since these photographs were taken, the house is still standing and is being looked after. The overgrown bushes have been trimmed back and people are visiting the property – here’s hoping it stands for many more years to come!

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