An adventure to the Hamptons....
So many affiliate the Hamptons with ridiculous amounts of wealth, the gorgeous, expansive beaches and the Kardashians. To be honest, I did the same until I moved out to the southeastern end of Long Island at the mouth of the Hamptons. I can't deny that the beaches are breathtaking and the people are different from what I was used to coming from the North Shore, but what really surprised me was how truly historical the area was. I am sure you've heard of the Beale sisters who lived in a hoard and unkept Hamptons mansion until Jackie Onassis stepped in or that Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller spent a lot of time in their windmill farm house to get away from the hustle and bustle of celebrity life. But there is so much more to the Hamptons. Did you know it has the zip code of the most expensive place to purchase a home in the country? Did you know potato fields were the most popular crop in the Hamptons at one time? I bet you didn't! It's okay, neither did I.
What I do know is that a year ago I was lucky enough to have met someone who knew where approximately one hundred abandoned homes were located in the Hamptons. Yes, I said ONE HUNDRED!
From that point on I spent hours upon hours Google searching the addresses and Google mapping the surrounding location. And then one warm November day I jumped in my car with a friend and designated an entire day to checking about thirty of them out.
Just by sheer chance the very first house we hit was a beauty! A 19th century Queen Anne-style two story house with cross gables and a turret behind a white picket fence, it stood only a hundred feet from the main road. Neighbored by a mechanic, deli and train station was this outstanding and abandoned majestic mansion. The property was poorly landscaped and the driveway was gone. Everything was dirt and weeds. The front trees and bushes were removed so the house could clearly be seen from the street. My guess was to protect it from vandals and so the locals could keep a more close eye on it. I only say this because we were photographing the front of the property no more than five minutes when a noisy neighbor drove up the short dirt road and pulled up directly next to me. He asked what I was doing and I said I was taking pictures of the house because I just thought it was gorgeous and asked who owned it.
He told me the house was known as the "Castle" to the locals, or also known as "Cannibal Castle" when squatters in the 1990's started to take over the place. Rumors were that serious drugs were being done inside and that a homeless family and her baby were sleeping on the broken, busted and asbestos covered floor for awhile. After the town removed anyone living inside due to the unsafe conditions of the house, the windows and doors were securely boarded shut and the "Red X of Death"* was posted on the exterior. I listened to him intently but little did he know I was also busy "keeping watch" as my friend was exploring the inside.
The conversation lasted about ten minutes and then I cut it short to distract his attention from the house so my friend could get out safely. I was never able to get inside.
But here is what I know, thanks to the internet:
Today I was in the area and decided to take the ten minute drive to capture a photo of what it looks like a year later for my blog. I flew by the grounds twice before I realized it was gone and instead in its place was the beginnings of a 28 unit apartment complex. Construction was recently started only maybe this past summer and not a single piece of Cannibal Castle or its surroundings remained. I took a quick cell phone shot with my phone and left.
I will never forget Cannibal Castle as it was the first house that day we explored about thirty abandoned homes in the Hamptons. As beautiful as some of the houses were that we later on photographed that afternoon, none of them compared to the architecture of the "Castle." To this day, I am still yet to see a house like it in Long Island....
Cannibal Castle, photographed by me, November 2017
The property of Cannibal Castle today, November 2018.
Cannibal Castle, approximately 1915 (image taken from an internet resource)