Take a look inside an abandoned ‘clown house,’ an eerie home one photographer says he’ll never forget

An interior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
The room was painted with bright colors and bold patterns. Bryan Sansivero
  • A circus-themed home is one of the oddest places photographer Bryan Sansivero says he’s shot.
  • Dubbed the “Catskill Clown House,” the decrepit New York mansion was filled with vibrant patterns.
  • Sansivero said he loved the home so much, he photographed it four times.

Most abandoned homes spark Bryan Sansivero’s curiosity, but a circus-themed mansion in Catskills, New York, is one the photographer said he won’t ever forget.
An interior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
Throughout the home, photographer found things like a colorful umbrella, a croquet set, and old wine bottles. Bryan Sansivero
Bryan Sansivero has spent years photographing abandoned buildings across the US. He’s explored deserted hospitals, stepped inside homes frozen in time, and even published a book of his haunting photographs, “American Decay: Inside America’s Forgotten Homes.”

Sansivero estimates he’s been to hundreds of abandoned houses. Not every home is worth photographing, he told Insider, and not every one is ingrained in his memory. 

But a house in Catskills, New York, is one of the most unique homes he said he’s explored due to its circus-themed rooms.

“I’ve never found a house where each room is so different than the previous room in terms of full-on color, the decay, and the overall look,” he said. 

 

 

After seeing the home on Instagram, Sansivero tracked down its address in upstate New York. With his camera gear packed, he first traveled to the abandoned, circus-themed mansion in 2019.
A circus-themed ceiling in the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
A circus tent was painted on the ceiling, but over the years, it’s slowly peeled away. Bryan Sansivero
A house with flaking wallpaper, vibrant colors, and an odd clown theme started popping up on Sansivero’s Instagram feed in 2019. 

Nicknamed the “Catskill Clown House” online, it was the perfect combination of Sansivero’s interests. 

It was eerie, unfamiliar, creepy, and colorful — everything he’s drawn to, he told Insider. 

Sansivero said he knew he wanted to photograph it, but first, he needed to find the address. After reaching out to other urban explorers, he eventually tracked down the house’s location and headed to Catskills, New York, to photograph the house. 

Beyond its massive size, Sansivero said he was also surprised that it seemed like an ordinary house from the outside.
An exterior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
The house sits in front of a large, overgrown lawn. Bryan Sansivero
When Sansivero first arrived at the house, he parked his car on the street and started walking up the home’s long driveway. 

When Sansivero reached the house, he said he realized it was much larger than he envisioned.

Crawling up its walls were vines, and the front yard was teeming with weeds and overgrowth. 

Formerly a winery, the property had overgrown grapevines and other buildings he would later explore.

While Sansivero could tell the house was influenced by older architecture, he said it had a surprisingly modern appearance. 

When he stepped inside, he came across even more surprises. 

 

Lurking inside was an eerie, decaying interior. The entryway, for example, had vibrant yellow paint peeling off its walls and a staircase leading to the unknown.
An interior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
A vibrant yellow is the first color visitors would see when stepping into the home. Bryan Sansivero
After his first few steps inside the mansion, Sansivero said he realized the house was much more unusual than he envisioned. 

The house blows your expectations,” he said. “Every single room in the house is something you want to photograph.”

 

Up the stairs, Sansivero was met with a handful of odd bedrooms. The most surprising was a room with a circus-themed diamond pattern along its wall.
An interior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
The room was painted with bright colors and bold patterns. Bryan Sansivero
Sansivero said there were at least four bedrooms, and a dilapidated playset outside leads him to believe that the mansion was once home to a family with children. 

Sansivero said he thinks the circus-themed room was a child’s bedroom because of its smaller size and playful patterns. 

Look up and the circus inspiration continued. A tent was painted across the ceiling of the bedroom.

“Those are very dedicated parents,” Sansivero said referring to how committed the circus theme was throughout the room. 

Another bedroom featured a bold pop of orange on its walls.
An interior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
Few rooms throughout the house lacked bold colors. Bryan Sansivero
Another bedroom on the second story had a bright orange color splashed across its walls. 

Blue paint had chipped off of the ceiling and was scattered across the floor. 

The circus theme continued into the bathroom, where red and white stripes were painted across its walls.
Bathroom of the abandoned circus-themed house
Even the bathroom had circus-inspired, peeling stripes. Bryan Sansivero
The second floor’s bathroom continued with the theme. Bright red paint peeled from the walls, which were once clean-cut stripes mimicking a circus tent.
The closets also weren’t without color. In the main bedroom, a bullfighter was painted onto one closet’s wall.
A closet in the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
Inside the main bedroom’s closet, came across a painted mural. Bryan Sansivero
Inside the main bedroom, there was more color, Sansivero said.

Chipping away on a wall inside one closet is a painting of a bullfighter. 

Downstairs, light illuminated the home’s decaying floors, peeling walls, and crumbling ceiling.
An interior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
Floors were decaying, paint was peeling, and it was clear no one had inhabited the home for decades, said. Bryan Sansivero
Sansivero said it became clear that no one had lived in the home for years. 
The only room that strayed away from the vibrant colors was the library. From floor to ceiling, the room was filled with rich, dark wood, and an enormous mural covered one wall.
An interior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
One room stood apart from the rest with its darker colors. Bryan Sansivero
While the majority of the home had bright hues of pink, purple, and yellow, the library took on a darker style. 

From the floor to the ceiling, the room was covered in dark wood — except for one wall that had a nature scene painted onto it. 

“All of the sudden you’re in this muted room,” he said. “And then you turn around and there’s this crazy painted wall.” 

After the first visit, Sansivero went back three more times to capture the perfect shots.
An interior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
There were multiple fireplaces throughout the home. Bryan Sansivero
Sansivero said he knew this place was unique and unlikely to remain in the same condition for long.

Each time Sansivero visited, things around the house had been moved or relocated, and he said he feared that other trespassers would graffiti the walls or potentially ruin the home.

Before that could happen, Sansivero was committed to getting his perfect shots. 

“I shot it, and then I was like, ‘Oh shoot, I didn’t get this shot’ or ‘I could get this shot better,'” he said. 

So Sansivero went back again and again, each time, perfecting his images.

 

Sansivero said he tries to find bits of mail or artifacts that shed light on the people who used to occupy the abandoned homes he photographs. In this house, he found an old real-estate listing.
A stairwell of an abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
found a game of croquet inside the home. Bryan Sansivero
Inside the kitchen, Sansivero said he found a piece of paper that showed the house was for sale with the name of a realtor.

Jotted on the sheet of paper was each time the realtor visited the home. The last date was marked 2017, he said.

Sansivero guessed that the owners gave up trying to sell the house in 2017, and it sat abandoned for years after.

Looking at the images he shot, Sansivero said the home evokes a sort of sadness.
An exterior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
The exterior of the home in Catskills, New York. Bryan Sansivero
When Sansivero looks back at the images, he said there’s a sense of sadness.

It was clear the abandoned house was once loved. 

“There’s a sense of loss,” he said. “That sense that there was once life here and now there’s not.”

 

Today, Sansivero said the home is no longer abandoned, which likely means the peeling circus ceiling, diamond patterns, and vibrant colors are long gone.
An interior shot of the abandoned circus-themed house in the Catskills, New York.
One room was painted in a variety of blue hues. Bryan Sansivero
Since photographing the home, Sansivero said he’s learned that it’s sold. 

He can’t imagine the decay was repairable, so he said it’s unlikely the home looks similar to how he photographed it.

Ultimately, he said he’s happy the once-loved space has welcomed life again.