The Abandoned Time Capsule House
This is the story of a remarkable abandoned time capsule house, located along the backroads of Ontario Canada. Finding an abandoned house in Ontario, much like any other province, county or state isn’t all that hard to do – take a drive along the backroads and just look for the signs, they’re everywhere. Finding a good abandoned house is a little bit harder and takes a bit more patience and nerve. Most abandoned houses have some personal items left behind, many have nothing of interest…but very few of the abandoned houses you will encounter have all of the previous occupant’s belongings, like this abandoned time capsule house.
In late 2013 an Urban Explorer had posted some amazing photos of an abandoned home he had visited. This house was unique and an extremely rare find, it was a fully in tact home, all contents still in place as though the owners just disappeared one day, hence the name abandoned time capsule. Inquiries to the homes location went unanswered, as is to be expected – and I don’t blame him for his hesitation. Not long after, another well known Ontario Urban Explorer had started posting photos from this house – again, discretion was key and locations were not revealed.
With some research, a few inquiries and a few hours my friend and exploring partner RiddimRyder were able to locate the abandoned time capsule house and we set out on a short road trip to shoot and explore this incredible abandoned house on the shores of Lake Michigan. We reached the house early in the morning as a fresh layer of snow covered the ground.
The sight upon entering this house is eerie, breathtaking……weird. There is the usual smell of decay and years of abandonment that one comes to know – but to walk into a room and see so many possessions and belongings still in exactly the place they were meant to be, was unsettling. We weren’t alone though, our furry and black-eyed welcoming committee had let us know they were in the ceiling and would stay there (hopefully) until we left. We didn’t need the raccoon family to remind us that they were there though, there was proof everywhere that they had been living here a while, raccoon waste was all around and the familiar smell of raccoon was all over.
The Main Room:
As soon as you enter the house you find yourself standing in front of the dining room table, still with the table cloth covering it and with chairs placed as they would be. To your right is a hutch, atop it sits a clock, forever reading 3:43, below on the shelf, two sets of silverware – still polished, perfectly placed in their wooden case and ready for the weekend’s company. Mugs, candles and other trinkets placed throughout, the main cabinet doors would not open – the result of years of staying closed.
Next to this hutch sits a china cabinet, teapots, silver trays and platters, dishware, salt and pepper shakers…glass ware, all the essentials for entertaining friends and family. Across the back wall are a number of cupboards, on the other side is the kitchen, they have created cupboards that open on either side of the kitchen and dining room. Each shelf was full of plates, bowls, glasses, towels, decorative teacups, and sitting atop the cupboards were more porcelain and ceramic platters and serving trays.
The Living Room:
Once I got into the living room I felt at home, this family obviously loved music, there was an acoustic guitar on the coffee table, there were 3-4 record players sitting atop an old lift top record player/8-track player and on top of those record players sat her 8-track collection and beside the record player was a stack of vinyl records.
A red couch and two plush chairs were the main pieces of furniture, along with a very heavy wooden table and chair set in a corner. As with the other room, this room also has a bay window with (what once was) a very nice and comfortable wood frame couch. This room has the worst decay in the house; a hole in the roof was providing some much needed fresh air and was allowing a light sprinkling of snow to lightly fall in.
Just below this hole in the roof sits the wooden couch which has been eaten away by years of weather abuse. The paint on the walls and ceiling are peeling away nicely, but the blue accents that surround the bay window give the place charm, and the blue blinds and curtains on the bay window refuse to fall to the floor.
Attached to the living room was a bedroom, it had a bed and a dresser and a nightstand….but it also had boxes full of newspapers, it was as though every single newspaper ever delivered to the house had been kept and placed into a box.
Also in this room was a hat box, full of fancy old fashioned lady hats, there were clothes and shoes and piles of personal items. In the dresser I found a number of old photo albums, I opened some but others I left – over time when things stay in one place, they become a part of that place so moving a photo album meant ruining that photo album. I did find a very interesting item inside a drawer that had been preserved in a plastic bag – it was a small book made of tree birch, inside were various lines handwritten accompanied by very very old photographs. Someone had taken great care to create this and preserve it so I placed it back in its bag and right back where I found it – silly me I didn’t even take a photo of it. Also in this room were jars of preserved peaches and other disgusting looking things – I was terrified to drop one and break it as the smell would have been awful! This room was nearly impossible to shoot as it was so rammed with stuff, so I did the best I could and moved along.
When I thought I was done with these two rooms I had taken a look around the living room and in the corner I noticed a tall wooden thing with a fancy doily draped over it.
On top of that were some old records and candles. But these weren’t normal records, they were thick and heavy. I figured this must be another hutch or something, so I curiously lifted off the records and doily and placed them on a chair.
I lifted the lid to this “wooden thing” to learn that I was standing before an early 20th century Gramophone, complete with a turn crank on the side, replacement needles and wipes to clean the records and it was spotless. I was so taken aback by what I was seeing and capturing photos of it that I didn’t even think to drop the needle, turn the crank and let the music play from her speakers one more time – this is my biggest regret and this is my reason to return some time soon.
The kitchen was almost immaculate, atop the stove sat a clock, permanently set to 2:15. On the walls hung decorative pots and ceramic plates. On either side of the stove hung mothers cooking utensils and at the end of the room sat a daybed with a yellow skirt.
There was a door that leads to a small hallway to head upstairs, but behind that door I noticed something, some kind of a wall mounted china cabinet. This china cabinet was full of perfectly placed ceramic cats, china tea cups, glassware, decorative teapots and salt & pepper shakers, these were obviously some cherished items and they were just as they had been in the days of this homes life. I would take a mental note to come back and shoot these details with my 35mm lens, right now I’m focusing on the rooms as a whole, the fine details can be shot once I have taken all this in.
On my way upstairs I’m overcome by smell of raccoon feces, they must spend a lot of time of here. The layout of the upstairs was interesting, the main room seemed to be a master bedroom, with a wall to wall closet that couldn’t be accessed with so much stuff in the way, a queen sized bed still made and some dressers..and books, hundreds and hundreds of books. Attached to this master bedroom were three other bedrooms and a bathroom. Old family photos graced the walls in very elegant looking frames. The furniture in this house is the stuff you see in an antique store but never think to buy, or a high end furniture store that sells expensive dressers and hutches that you will never afford…only this stuff is the real deal, it’s heavy and it’s well constructed.
Books – did I mention books? Each room in this upstairs is full of books, books on addiction – alcohol and drugs, books about Jesus, books about God, books about religion…more books about Jesus. Books about death and how to cope, books about faith, books about coping, books about positive thinking. Novels, poem books, song books, Bill Cosby’s book, a book by George Burns, books about science, entire encyclopedia series, books about war, books about peace……and magazines, and then even more newspapers.
The bathroom was probably the most interesting room upstairs, at first I wasn’t going to shoot it because it was too dark and there was no source of natural light – at a glance it was just a mess, a pile of clothes in the bathtub, piles of junk on the floor and a bunch of old clothes hanging from the curtain rod – nothing of any interest.
Then I decided for some reason to turn on a light switch, suddenly this uninteresting dark room turned into a giant pink and green treasure chest stuck in the 1950’s. It is very odd to find that the power in this home is working, and a bit unnerving. First thing we did was open the medicine cabinet, just as cool as the one downstairs, I’m certain there are products in there with ingredients that have long been deemed dangerous and illegal to consume, Hair Dye, Band Aids, lotions etc.
Across the main wall sat a green vanity, on each side of the vanity was a chest of drawers, I opened one of the drawers and took out a pink box but didn’t open it. I called Riddim over and said I think this will be cool, lets open it together – we weren’t disappointed! It was mothers perfume kit, a very old perfume kit, in the corner sat one of those puffers that you see women use in old movies or in old cartoons.
We each took turns getting shots of this before closing it and placing it back where we found it. Next it was another drawer, it took some elbow grease to open it – years of abandonment seem to make things stick – but again, I was not disappointed by what I found. Grandpa’s shaving kit, the stuff you only see in museums or old fashioned ads. Straight blade razors, Gillette Blue Blades, manual hair trimmers, old haggard looking toothbrushes, I don’t know why I was so fascinated by this stuff. I took out a few other items that I found interesting and set them up for a photo and then carefully placed everything back where I found it.
The last room to see was a bedroom that looks more like a library, I had to step over mountains of raccoon feces and piles of junk to get in, the scene once in is truly overwhelming. Books stacked every which way, on every wall in every nook and cranny possible.
The bed was still neatly made and on the walls were some group photos and an insignia of some sort. A desk area was pretty cluttered with a few personal items, if specific interest was one of those old Colonel Sanders plastic piggy banks they used to give out at Kentucky Fried Chicken, there were actually 3 of them that I found in the house.
In and around this desk were stacks of magazines and files and binders stacked to the ceiling. Underneath and on either side were filing cabinets packed full of paperwork and bills and medical files, inside one drawer I had found what I thought was a recipe box, it turned out to be some kind of an inventory of the homes contents, including clothing. The two pages I looked at were the inventory of candle holders and of her fur items. In one of the bedrooms I had opened a dresser drawer to find it packed with neatly organized fur scarves and cuffs for her coats.
Downstairs, I switched to my 35mm lens that is great for capturing small details and close ups. I investigated a bit more into the china cabinet and admired the silver platters and teapots in there and I had a closer look at the silverware on the hutch, this stuff was immaculate! I went to the wall mounted cabinet in the kitchen and checked out her cow and gnome themed salt and pepper shakers.
The piano is the main highlight of this room and I love nothing more than to find a piano in an abandoned house, I lifted the cover off the keys to find them in amazing condition, but like the gramophone in the other room – I didn’t play it, I just admired it. Atop the piano was a very large music book, I flipped through the pages just to get that whiff of old book smell!
That was it – I was done, except for some exterior shots it was time to move on….but wait, the piano bench – don’t those usually open and have space for stuff inside? I take my camera back out of the bag and go open it only to see one of the most incredible things I have seen to date..
A musical time capsule, untouched, no dust exactly as it was meant to be. I immediately noticed the bright shiny horn, beside that was a wooden recorder, surrounded by books of sheet music, atop the sheet music were three small silver harmonicas. In the corner was a red plastic case, curiously I lifted the case – it was heavy. I opened it to find an immaculate silver harmonica – I had never seen one this big before. They must have had a great time in this house playing music, between the guitar, piano, recorder, harmonicas and the record players and 8 tracks, music was obviously a huge part of this family’s life.
With the door tightly closed, everything put back just the way it was and with the lights turned off the racoons could now come back out – we were on our way to a few more destinations. But we would mostly be thinking about this house the rest of the day and into the days, weeks and months following.
In the coming weeks and months a handful of other explorers would visit this house, trying their best to keep this home a closely guarded secret. The last thing anyone wants is to see this home become looted by thieves and vandals. Once individual took on the task of delving deep into the history of this home, it’s history and the family who owned it. It was discovered that there was a living relative in the area, a daughter who had lived here and who is now elderly herself, This explorer took a risk in contacting the woman, do inquire about this home and why it is in this state. Contacting someone who has lived in a home you have just entered without permission is a risk – but sometimes it’s necessary.
To maintain privacy, the information obtained by the explorer and the elderly woman have been held back from this story – but the good news from it all is that the home has been reclaimed and the valuable and rare items that had been hidden for so many years will now move to a new home to be enjoyed once again, instead of falling victim to time, elements and decay.
“When the Music’s Over – Turn Out the Lights
– The Doors