There’s something particularly spectacular about witnessing the decay of a once-grand building. Lavish trappings fall into disrepair, once proud halls play host to insects and dust, and elegantly constructed architecture is exposed to time and the elements. Here are five crumbling mansions that are fascinating to look at and come with some intriguing back stories – most of which look like they came straight out of a Hammer Horror film.
1.) KASTEEL VAN MESEN
The almost 500-year-old (built in 1628) building has functioned as a castle, a gin distillery, a tobacco factory, and, after World War I, a boarding school for girls financed by the Belgian aristocracy. In 1971, after French education was banned in Flemish regions, the school ceased activities and the building was abandoned. It was demolished in 2010. Lede, Belgium.
2.) HALCYON HALL, BENNETT COLLEGE
Millbrook, New York – Halcyon Hall was originally built as a luxury hotel in 1890, but closed in 1901. However, the hall enjoyed a second life when, a few years later, the Bennett School for Girls moved in, making the building home and school to students from prominent families. However, with the rise of coeducational schooling, the Bennett failed to thrive, going bankrupt and shuttering its doors in 1978.
(via Joseph A/Flickr)
3.) BANNERMAN CASTLE
Located on Bannerman Island in New York it was a Scottish immigrant, Francis Bannerman purchased the island in 1900 and built a castle to advertise his military surplus business. Two years after Bannerman’s death in 1918, 200 tons of ammunition shells and powder exploded, destroying a small part of the structure. Then in 1969, a fire destroyed the floors and roofs as well. The island is vacant, uninhabited since 1950, after the only ferryboat that serviced the island sank in a storm. In 2009, one-third of the remaining structure collapsed.
4.) CHATEAU de NOISY
Château Miranda was built in 1866 by an English architect for the Liedekerke-Beaufort family. The family lived there until World War II, when it was taken over by the National Railway Company of Belgium. It’s empty since 1991, in part because the family refuses to turn it over to the municipality of Celles.
5.) CHATEAU de GUDANESS
A 18th century French mansion named Chateau de Gudanes: it was purchased by an Australian family (Craig and Karina Waters) in 2013, and they’re working on the restoration since then – but for now it still has an abandoned feel and eeriness about it.