A house is just some walls, a foundation, and a roof, but a home is something else entirely. A home is full of stories, memories, and interesting details. A home can be left untouched for years and years and still contain all of those stories. The abandoned farmhouse you’re about to see sat untouched for forty years. In that time, it was just waiting to unveil all of its secrets.
Finally, a man by the name of Bryan Sansivero was given special permission to enter the abandoned house and learn about who lived there. Bryan was completely surprised by what he found in those walls.
A Journey Into The Past
Bryan Sansivero is a photographer who loves investigating and photographing abandoned places. This farmhouse was left untouched for so long because it’s well hidden from the public. Bryan said, “It’s amazing how hidden the home was. It was surrounded by a busy community. Many people here had no idea the house even existed.”
Bryan has photographed plenty of interesting places, but he said that being in this farmhouse felt like stepping into a different era.
Remains Of What Once Was
You can tell that the facade of this Victorian home used to be quite a sight to see. The exterior of the home has gorgeous green shutters and a lovely front porch. Now, the roof is sagging, the sides of the house are rusted, and one column is completely knocked over.
This home was built in 1860. It sits on a nine-acre property that also includes a garage, a privy, a milk house, a horse barn, a sheep barn, a carriage house, and four smaller barns.
Who Was Marion Carll Anyway?
This farmhouse is known as the Marion Carll Farmhouse. Marion Carll was a pillar of the Suffolk County community. She was also a schoolteacher who founded Suffolk’s very first parent-teacher association. In 1957, a local grammar school was named after her.
Whe she passed away, Marion left all of her property to the Commack School Board and District. She wanted her home and her farmland to be used for educational purposes. She was always putting other people before herself.
Time Stands Still Here
This alarm clock is literally frozen in time. It’s covered in cobwebs and its hands are stuck at 2:54. Right next to it, there’s an empty glass bottle that once contained C. C. Parsons’ Household Ammonia, a popular household cleaner from the 19th century.
If you’re thinking that you can just walk into this farmhouse today and find yourself one of these treasures, you’re out of luck. After Bryan took all of these wonderful photographs, the farmhouse was completely emptied out.
Artifacts From The Past
Even the small details in this home are interesting to Bryan. Empty vintage bottles like these ones are highly sought after by antique collectors. Some of these bottles were used to hold medicine, while other’s contain common household staples like olive oil or vinegar.
The blue booklet on the left of the photo reads: “Program of the Thirty-Third Annual Sea Girt Interstate Tournament.” This was an annual competition that was put on by the Association of American International Riflemen.
Fake Flowers Never Die
Real flowers would have withered away a long, long time ago, but these fake flowers are still going strong. They still look pretty vibrant sitting in that white ceramic vase. This gorgeous photograph documents the passing of time.
That couch next to the flower arrangement hasn’t held up as well. It looks like it was well-loved back in its day, but now it’s ripped and weathered and in need of reupholstering. Maybe it was this moment that caused Bryan to say, “More than any other house I’ve explored, this one felt completely like stepping back in time.”
This House Is Full Of Treasures
This is a photo of the interior of the farmhouse. Bryan was granted access to the house on multiple occasions. He said, “each time I visited I would uncover more items and many priceless antiques.”
Even though the inside of the house was pretty run down, Bryan was able to see the treasures amongst all of the rubble. All of the antiques have since been removed from the home, but now we have Bryn photographs to show us what the house looked like before it was cleared out.
Carll Wanted To Preserve The Past
Marion loved teaching and studying history. As someone who appreciated the past, she wanted to preserve as much of the structure and integrity of her farmhouse as possible. She decided that she would never update the farmhouse or install modern fixtures because she wanted to keep it looking like it came straight out of the 19th century.
“Even though it’s been abandoned since 40 years ago when Marion Carll passed, it appeared as if she was living in another century completely,” says Sansivero.
What Bryan Found In The Parlor
This ornate piano must have filled this home with music back when Marion Carll was alive. This room is rather dusty now, but back in the day, it would have been the center of Marion’s social life.
There were no radios or television sets back in the 1800s. If people wanted to listen to music, they had to make that music themselves. Many people had pianos and other musical instruments in their homes. Families would gather around a big piano and have a sing-along.
A Safe As Valuable As Its Contents
People are fascinated with locked safes, especially with loked safes from the 1800s. This particular safe found in Carll’s home was manufactured by Cincinnati-based Hall’s Safe Company
This safe didn’t actually belong to Marion Carll, though— at least, not initially. There is the name of one “A.J. McCarthy, D.D.S.” etched onto the side of the lockbox. Apparently, Mr. A.J. McCarthy was a faculty member at the University of Buffalo’s Department of Dentistry. We’re not sure how his safe ended up in Marion’s house.
Danger Lurks Around Every Corner
This is a photo of the main staircase in the Marion Carll Farmhouse. These stairs are in pretty good condition for a house that was built in 1860, but this isn’t the only flight of stairs in the building. There is another flight of stairs that leads to the basement that isn’t so structurally sound. Sansivero said,
“We were only in the basement once and I did not get any pictures of it. The stairs collapsed as we were going back up.”
Walt Whitman’s Ancestors Owned This Land
Carll’s family kept impeccable records about the history of their property and their town. Kerriann Flanagan Brosky compiled all of these photos and records into a book called Huntington’s Hidden Past. In the book, she writes,
“The land on which the farm stands, off Commack Road, was originally inhabited by members of the Secatougue Indian tribe. According to a deed of record from 1698, the Indians conveyed the parcel of land to John Skidmore and John Whitman, great-great-great grandfather of poet Walt Whitman.”
The Attic Was Used For Storage (And Maybe For Sleeping)
When Bryan went upstairs to the attic, he noticed that it was full of odds and ends. There were steel cage crinoline petticoats hanging on the walls. These undergarments were very popular in the late 1800s.
There were also beds in the attic, which may be an indication that staff who worked on the farm or in the home would spend their nights up here. The attic is a relatively small space, but it served its purpose well.
A True Teacher’s Desk
Marion Carll was born in this very farmhouse in 1885. When she was younger, she attended a one-room schoolhouse, and she very likely completed a lot of her homework while sitting at this desk. Carll went to high school in Jamaica, Queens, and then she moved back to Commack to work as a teacher. We imagine she also graded a lot of tests while sitting at this desk.
Carll often invited students over to her home so they could learn about the history of their community.
Where This House Is Located
This house is located in Suffolk County, New York. This area used to be all farmland, but now, almost all of Suffolk County is one big suburb. This farmhouse was built in the 1800s, but the farmstead surrounding it dates back to 1701.
Bryan is now invested in this beautiful historical home. He said, “I hope that my pictures can in some way help contribute to the restoration of such a beautiful and historically significant home.”
The Other Buildings On The Property
The farmhouse isn’t the only old building on this plot of land. There’s also an outhouse, a garage, a smokehouse, a milk house, a carriage house, a horse barn, a sheep barn, and four smaller barns.
This is a photo of the inside of one of the smaller barns. This is where farmhands would groom animals and store equipment necessary for farm life. In Marion Carll’s will, she specified that she wanted all of these outbuildings to be preserved “as historical museums.”
Multiple Fireplaces Warmed Up The Space
Back in the 19th century, central heating wasn’t exactly available (or invented yet). That’s where these gorgeous ornate fireplaces come in. Marion’s home had a fireplace in almost every room. Many of them are still in very good condition. This is a photo of the marble fireplace in the farmhouse’s sitting room.
This room looks almost perfect, except for the wallpaper peeling off of the walls. We can imagine Marion sitting here, reading a book after a long day of teaching.
History Around Every Corner
Bryan Sansivero said, “this particular house stood to me out because of the history that was just lying around everywhere.” Everywhere Bryan looked, he found a new artifact or treasure to photograph. This blue china, for instance, stands out against the wooden cupboard it was placed in. This whole room is falling apart, but the china looks as gorgeous as the day it was made.
That china is probably worth a fortune now. Good thing Marion kept it in such good condition.
Parts Of The House Are In Complete Disarray
While some rooms in this house are in pretty good condition, other areas of the house are completely falling apart. Time doesn’t affect all materials equally. The storage area pictured here is now worn down, cluttered, dusty, and collapsing. This space was likely also used as a sleeping area for some of the household staff.
Entire pieces of ceiling are missing and there is debris all over the floor. Still, this space holds many clues as to what went on here in the past.
Another Stunning Fireplace
Check out this absolutely stunning fireplace! If you ignore that shredded lampshade on the left-hand side of this photo, this room almost looks as perfect as it did back in the 1800s. The walls might be a little bit dusty, but that’s to be expected.
The mantle is a stark white color and the lady in that old dress looking out at us from the portrait really ties the whole room together. Those little teacups add some charm to the whole scene.
A Truly Historic Location
Even though this house is now very run-down, the Marion Carll Farm was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. This list isn’t that exclusive though. There are over one million properties on the register.
To end up on the National Register of Historic Places list, a property has to meet at least one of these four criteria: it must make a contribution to the major pattern of American history, be associated with significant people of the American past, have distinctive architectural characteristics, or be “likely to yield information important to prehistory or history.”
Photos Tell The Stories Of The Past
Bryan Sansivero found these photos of the Carll family inside Marion Carll’s house. These are some of the people who lived in this home before Marion. They were obviously wealthy people who could afford to dress very nicely.
“Going through many photographs and documents gave us glimpses into the family’s history, and how they lived in the past,” says Sansivero. These photographs are no longer at the Marion Carll farmhouse, but thanks to Sansivero, you can see them right here on the internet.
A Charming Dressing Table
In this photo, you can see a bedroom dressing table topped with all kinds of bottles, perfumes, and accessories. On the table, there is a ewer, which is a large jug that’s used for washing. Marion’s home had two bathrooms, but running water wasn’t always available.
According to the Marion Carll Preserve, a non-profit organization that aims to “restore and sustainably manage Ms. Carll’s gift in perpetuity while honoring the conditions of her will,” every effort was taken to make sure that this property remained as “modern” as it was back in the 1800s.
Old Forms Of Transportation
This is a photo that Bryan took in one of the outbuildings on Marion’s property. The black vehicle in the photo is a sleigh, and the green vehicle is a wagon. Both of these vehicles would have been pulled by one or multiple horses. You can also see a wooden plow on the ground beside the sleigh that would have been used regularly on the farm.
These vehicles were essential to farm life in the late 1800s.
Old Styles Become New Again
This ornate gold framed mirror on a shiplap paneled wall looks like something straight off of a Pinterest board. Back in the day, clapboard was commonly used to cover walls. It was usually made out of oak.
If anyone is looking for some design inspo for their next interiors project, look no further than this photo of a house that was built in 1860. Old styles always become new again if you wait long enough.
How People Got Clothes Before Outlet Malls
Before fast fashion existed, people would sew all of their own clothing, or get their clothes from a local seamstress. If you could make your own clothes, you would save a lot of money in the long run. This is a photo of Marion Carll’s sewing machine. It’s likely that she knew how to make clothes out of the wool that her sheep provided.
There are a lot of dresses around this property that were likely made at this very sewing machine. The lamp near the sewing machine meant that Marion could continue sewing even when the sun went down.
A Medicine For All Of Your Ailments
Bryan found a ton of empty glass bottles throughout Marion’s home, all of which were relics from the 19th century. A lot of these bottles used to hold household cleaners or perfumes, but this particular bottle contained a medicine called “Humprey’s 30.” The label says that the tonic was used for “simple disorders of the bladder and bedwetting.”
This New York-based company also made a Tonic #6 for cholera, and a homeopathic veterinary remedy for animals with indigestion.
Marion Shared Her Love Of Reading
Marion was very interested in history and education, so it’s no surprise that her house was full of books at all times. There are several bookcases in the Marion Carll Farmhouse. This one is made out of wooden crates that once held “Splendor Sunkist Oranges” from the San Fernando Heights Orange Association in San Fernando, California.
In this photo, you can see a well-used dictionary, a book about government, and a book called Modern Europeans.
When The Past And The Future Collide
We’ve seen this photo before, but upon closer inspection, you might notice something interesting about one of those glass bottles. One of those bottles once held Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia, which is a product that’s still available today! Milk of Magnesia is used to treat constipation, heartburn, nausea, upset stomach, and general indigestion.
English pharmacist Charles Henry Phillips created the first official milk of magnesia product in 1872. After he died, his sons ran his company, and then Bayer bought the brand in 1995.
A Rare Electric Appliance
Marion Carllhad electric lighting in her home, but she didn’t have many electric appliances. This desktop fan is one of the few modern electric pieces that Bryan found in the farmhouse. Next to the fan are some books and a newspaper.
The larger green book is titled Dogs for Profit by Rowland Johns and Leonard Taylor, and the other book is called The Basics of Breeding, with the single name Whitney listed as the author.
A Cabinet Full Of Antiques
You might recognize the bottle and the clock on the top shelf of this cabinet. We saw a close-up photograph of those artifacts earlier on this list. In this shot, you can see that the clock and the bottle are stored on a large cabinet with many other interesting antiques.
Marion kept and displayed many medicine bottles, a ceramic horse, a ceramic rabbit, and some cigar boxes. There are also some maps and wooden crates on the bottom shelf of the cabinet.
Marion Really Knew How To Sew
Marion must have been an avid sewer because this blouse on a shirt form along with several spools of thread was found in Marion’s bedroom right beside her bed. That blouse looks like it took hours to craft. It’s now badly stained and discolored, but if you look at it closely, you can see some extensive embroidery work and heavy detailing.
This may have been one of Marion’s most prized possessions, especially if she made it herself.
Imagine The Meals That Were Served In This Room
This is a photo of the dining room in the Marion Carll Farmhouse. On the left of the photo is Marion’s desk, which we already saw in an earlier picture. The dining table is covered in artifacts that have since been removed from the home.
This room takes “farm to table” to a new level. This table is actually on a farm, and the food Marion served at this table must have come straight from her actual farm.
History Is Everywhere
Marion clearly loved history and she felt a responsibility to preserve elements of the past for future generations to appreciate. In the March 30th, 1952 issue of The Northport Journal journalists recount the details of an event that was hosted at Marion’s family farmhouse:
“The Tercentenary meeting of the Commack Committee was held Thursday evening with Miss Marion Carll. Many interesting antiques were displayed and the conversation on old time events was greatly enjoyed.”
All About The Carll Family
So who was the Carll family anyway? This is a photo of Marion Carll from the 1950s. According to Preservation Long Island, a non-profit group dedicated to protecting the area’s cultural legacy:
“The Carll family has family deep roots on Long Island, including ties to Sagitikos Manor, which Marion’s ancestor, Timothy Carll, purchased from the Dutch colonial Van Cortlandt family in 1706; ownership of Sagtikos Manor eventually passed to the Thompson family of Setauket, then the Gardiner family, while the Carlls continued to be prominent members of communities in and around the Huntington area.”
History Is In Danger
This property has historical value, but as you can see from these photos, the farmhouse isn’t in very good shape. In 2011, the nonprofit Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities listed he Carll Farmstead as one of four sites on its annual list of endangered historic places. Robert C. Hughes is the historian who nominated the site, told The New York Times:
“It’s a wonderful time capsule not only because of the collection of buildings but also because of their contents. Attention must be paid to this property, and money must be raised.”
The Future Of The Carll Family Farmstead
Now that the public has taken an interest in this abandoned property, the question remains, what will become of the Marion Carll Farm? Marion wanted the farm to stay as true to it’s roots as possible, but her wishes may not be what’s best for this community. Some members of the community think that the farm would make a great public park.
Cynthia Clark, a woman working to save Carll Farm, told a local news outlet, News12, that she worries that some of the proposals being presented “may not preserve its historic nature according to Marion Carll’s wishes.” Clark’s proposal “includes a working organic farm, an education center and making the farm a restored historic site.”
How You Can Learn More About Marion Carll
All of Bryan’s photos, as well as many of the artifacts recovered from this home, are now under the jurisdiction of the Huntington Historical Society. If you want to learn more about the Carll family, the Huntington Historical Society houses two volumes of books containing all of the information you’ve always wanted to know about Marion and her family history.
If you’d like your family history to end up in a historical society one day, start writing your own history. You never know, it might be valuable in the future.
A Very Old Sewing School
Commack is very close to Huntington, New York, where the Huntington Sewing and Trade School is located. This school was built in 1905 and it inspired young men and women to make their own clothing. Perhaps this place inspired Marion to sew her own clothes.
The building was renovated in 2017 thanks to some generous donors, but the integrity of that old school was preserved for future generations. The Huntington Sewing and Trade School is now part of the Huntington Historical Society.
What Marion Carll Left Behind
Commack grew rapidly in the 20th century, and in the early 1960’s the school that was named after Marion Carll closed its doors. That wasn’t the end of Marion Carll’s legacy, though.
A local Commack paper reports, “her legacy was not the Marion Carll School, her legacy was community involvement, commitment to education, love of Commack, its residents, and the Marion Carll Farm. It was in this spirit that Marion Carll left her farm and its cherished possessions to the Commack School District.”
For more of Sansivero’s photos, please visit his Instagram page.