We have a word for old houses and buildings that have been sitting empty, in the darkness, for decades: "haunted." For whatever reason, there's just something creepy about places that sit abandoned for years after their owners have died. So while all of these accidental time capsules are cool, we sure as hell wouldn't want to spend the night in any of them.
#5. A Parisian Apartment, Locked Away for 70 Years
Did any of you have parents who left your bedroom untouched after you moved out? When you went back to visit a year or two later, did you feel like you were stepping into a time machine, with all of your old magazines and shit laying around? OK, now imagine how the family of a deceased Frenchwoman felt seeing an apartment of hers that had been left untouched for 70 years:
Getty via Telegraph
The guys from American Pickers just got massive boners.
How is that even possible? We're talking about an apartment in Paris. Did nobody ever drop by or, you know, break in? How could this apartment wind up frozen in time like this?
Well, imagine it's 1940 and the Nazis are coming. Not "There's a menacing wartime chill in the air and everyone wonders what Hitler's up to," but "Oh shit, the Nazis are coming, like, right now!" If you're like one Ms. de Florian, you're getting the hell out of there. She packed her necessities, locked the door of her Paris flat, headed for the South of France, and never came back.
"Crap, I think I left the key in the- you know what, fuck it. Forgot about that whole Nazi thing."
Now, here's where things got interesting. Most of us would have eventually rented a U-Haul to come back for our stuff, even if our stuff was crappy. A handful of people might have given up on the apartment altogether. Not de Florian. She just kept paying the rent on her locked apartment ... for seven damn decades. While she was going to the Cannes Film Festival or sunbathing in the nude or doing whatever it is that people do in the South of France, de Florian's Paris apartment turned into a monument to dust and indifference. It wasn't until she died at age 91 and her heirs tried to sort out her finances that anyone remembered that the apartment was even there.
The manager of the estate found that everything was exactly as de Florian had left it, and this wasn't some run-of-the-mill Parisian studio apartment, either. De Florian was a wealthy collector, but a weird one, as evidenced by her Mickey Mouse toy and stuffed ostrich.
Yeah, we said "weird," but not one of us here at Cracked would turn that baby down if it were offered to us.
Among the dusty books and rodent memorabilia were tons of framed paintings, including this portrait of a buxom lady barely keeping her pink nightgown on:
It wasn't just the near-nip-slip that got one appraiser's attention. This painting looked like it was made by a famous Italian portrait artist named Giovanni Boldini, except no one had ever seen this painting before, so they couldn't be sure he made it. Further snooping revealed a love note from the (married) artist. It turns out the subject of the painting was Marthe de Florian, the grandmother of the apartment's tenant. And Marthe was hot stuff -- she counted French prime minister Georges Clemenceau among her admirers.
So imagine learning that your grandmother left you a 70-year-old museum of an apartment and that your great-great grandmother was scandalously horny. You probably wouldn't mind, since the painting of your great-grandma would later sell for 2.1 million euros.
#4. A Boarded-Up Mom-and-Pop Store, With Merchandise Still on the Shelves
Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images
Before you could buy your sodas and 5-Hour Energy bottles from the grocery store or gas station, people got that sort of thing from the general store or, as they were called in Britain, the corner shop. Corner shops provided everything from medicine to candy to cuts of meat, all sold as Britishly as possible.
In 2008, an English developer was renovating a boarded-up building when he made the discovery of a lifetime. An entire store had been abandoned 40 years before -- and everything was exactly where the previous owner had left it. It looked like the candy shop from the beginning of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, minus the candy and happy children.
And not nearly as much blood and screaming.
Among the treasures discovered by the developer were dulcet cream, kidney pills, and a 1971 magazine with the misleading title of Titbits.
Companion magazine to Asschunks.
Research revealed that the shop had been run by a series of couples from 1890 until it closed in the 1970s, but the weird part is that whoever ran it didn't seem to restock the shelves for the decades the store was open.
There were medicine bottles from the 1930s, a magazine describing Princess Elizabeth's 1938 tour of Australia, lozenge tins, and dated records. Just whatever the owners felt like shoving on the shelves, apparently. Researchers even found an invoice from 1927. But locals must not have minded, because they fondly remember coming over for ice cream and cigarettes. Hopefully they weren't eating 30-year-old ice cream.
Especially the dulcet-flavored one.
#3. A Downton Abbey-Era Kitchen Is Discovered
Like many of us, Archie Graham-Palmer grew up in a large manor home.
Via Cascade News
You know you have too much money when you can lose an entire food room.
Or a haunted abandoned insane asylum, we can't tell from the picture. Graham-Palmer's family has owned the cottage for over 165 years, with each generation dumping their share of crap in the old basement. It wasn't until Archie took over the estate that anyone had the guts to poke around in what was probably regarded as the house's no-no zone. Imagine his surprise when he found a whole kitchen under all the dead bodies.
Via Cascade News
And a carton of McDonald's fries that were still safe to eat!
If you're thinking, "Hey, this looks just like the servant kitchen in Downton Abbey!" well, get in line, because that's exactly what everyone else thought, too. Especially since everything from the pots and pans to the pig spit above the stove were just sitting there, ready to use.
There was even an extra big and sturdy table for the downstairs servants to eat and judge each other over.
"Ass padding is for pussies."
The downstairs kitchen even had bells so the higher-ups could summon their servants for back rubbing and mocking.
Via Cascade News
"If one more angel gets his wings today, I'm starting Armageddon."
Among the discoveries were a cookbook from 1911, complete with recipes that required an "army of cooks" to prepare them, and antique fire extinguishers, presumably the only sort of health insurance offered at the time.