Written by: Storytrail
How is anyone able to walk away and abandon such a beautiful property? That is a question that explorers are asked on a regular basis. It was also the thought that crossed my mind as Bumblebee and I slowly drove up a weathered driveway in a small, relatively unknown town. As we inched closer to the impressive abandoned structure, I was filled with awe. After turning off the ignition and shutting the car door behind me, I pulled my camera bag onto my shoulder and took a moment to admire the historic mansion before us. The stone building spanned on for what seemed like forever, uniform windows lining each separate floor in a grid. Many of them had been boarded or shattered and broken out completely, and evidence of vandalism and graffiti suddenly became evident. I couldn’t help but wonder what the place had looked like during its glory days, without the plywood and tall grass attempting to conceal the building from all who hoped to destroy it.
The thought quickly dispersed as Bumblebee pointed out an old security camera at the corner of the mansion. The outer glass was broken and the camera long gone, an ironic joke to anyone who approached. We laughed, took photos, and continued to make our way around the massive building. The sound of moving water soon drifted towards us in the breeze. We walked cautiously around the sea of jagged broken glass on the ground until we reached the edge of the river directly next to the building. In other months of the year, the small waterfall would be more powerful, but on this day, it was flowing gently. I watched from the shore as Bumblebee took careful steps out in the inch deep water to take photos, smiling as I reflected on our relationship and adventures together.
After admiring a wall covered in emerald vines snaking up to a wrought iron balcony, we finally retraced our steps to make our way inside the building. Just as we were preparing for what lay inside, we heard distant voices. A look of panic crossed my face, and I glanced over at Bumblebee to see his reaction. A quick consensus was reached between us to approach the strangers.
As we rounded the corner of the building to the source of the noise, a boy and girl came into view, likely in their 20’s. Since they didn’t look overly threatening, we took a few steps closer. That’s when my eyes fell to what the boy was holding in his right hand – an axe. Suddenly, my palms felt damp, and I couldn’t help but picture what he might be looking to do with it. Irrational flashes of scenes from murder investigation shows spread through my mind as we continued to speak to the strangers, who claimed they just wanted to see the mansion for themselves. Finally parting ways, Bumblebee and I turned around and headed to the entrance we had previously found, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of unease that had risen through our encounter.
After 15 minutes of taking photos inside, I began to relax. The place was as incredible as it looked outside, but unfortunately badly vandalized as well. Bumblebee and I started on the top floor and worked our way down. We were positioned at the end of a long hallway with our tripods set up when fear rose inside me once again. A shadowy figure slowly emerged from one doorway and headed into another, the faint outline of an axe barely visible in his hand. Soon after, loud bangs sounded out in sequence, startling Bumblebee and I as we silently rushed through our photos, hoping to make a quick escape from the hallway before the figure came back out. Our timing failed, and before we could finish, the two people we had encountered earlier now stood across from us, looking surprised. “We thought you were leaving?” They asked as my heartbeat rang in my ears. Again, my mind wandered, and the unease I already felt deepened. We informed them that we were just taking photos and would stay out of their way before turning away to leave. The familiar loud banging rang out in the air as we navigated through hallways and corridors. I found myself constantly looking over my shoulder, my only comfort Bumblebee still standing there with me.
For the remainder of our time in the mansion, my hands remained clammy and my heart continued to beat quickly, my thoughts racing. An anxiety had formed inside me that would not go away until I was positive of my own safety – back in the car. I am sure you can fill in the blanks as to how this explore ended… (hint: it doesn’t involve being chased by an axe murderer, surprise!). Once I got home, I uploaded my photos and began to research the incredible place we had seen that day.
The mansion was likely built in the late 1700’s, but the exact date is contested. Originally owned by the English after a conquest in the area, the building has many typical English architectural details for the time period. Throughout the years, the manor saw many different owners walk through its corridors. By the mid 1900’s, it was sold to a millionaire from Ontario, along with her husband. According to documents, it was the woman’s husband who added French architecture onto the exterior of the building, in order to restore it to a 17th century French manor. Eventually, the woman sold the mansion to a religious organization for $90,000, who began using the property as a school. The building was also at one time used as a police training headquarters.
We believe in respecting and protecting all abandoned locations from destruction.