TL;DR: Hoarder house to end all hoarder houses…
History: Unknown until – based on the PILES of trash and stuff left behind – the mid-80s or so, when it was abandoned. How things got to that point may never be known, but the most logical theory I’ve come up with is that hoarders lived here, were evicted, and the airport across the street eventually took ownership. At some point they planted a runway beacon on the front lawn while leaving the rest of the place to rot.
Explore: A friend I met at Great America invited me up to West Bend to check out an abandoned house near the town’s airport, and some other things. I drove up and met him at his place, then we piled into his Geo and headed for the site; parking at a gas station down the road. Approaching the site, the overgrowth nearly concealed the entire house – even with it being late-winter and the leaves yet to bud.
We lingered around the back for a short-while, making sure it was clear before heading in. The property had a small pond at the far north end, with a really sketch barn next to it that we didn’t bother with. A mid-century GMC school bus was also parked back there, forever sandwiched between a couple of trees.
From the back door: depending on which way you went, you could get maybe 3-5 steps in before encountering your first waist-high pile of garbage and random shit. The clearest hallway in the house was totally covered in magazines and newspapers that were spilling-out the back door, and lead to a probably added-on room containing furniture and boxes of who-fucking-knows what because you couldn’t even get through the doorway. Back the other way was a kitchen completely buried under trash, boxes, coolers, department store catalogs, chairs and just a fraction of the many empty soda cans found throughout the place; all from around the mid-80s (blue cans of ‘Sugar-Free Dr Pepper’, anyone?).
The entire front of the house had somehow been obliterated, exposing the kitchen, a nearby bathroom, and what was likely a child’s room to the elements. It was around then when I started noticing everyday items that were left-behind, such as cups and glassware in the kitchen cabinets, clothes hanging on hangers in the closet, and toiletries and shaving foam in the bathroom medicine cabinet (the latter still sprayed, even). It really made the theories on what could’ve happened here even more confusing… I don’t know how anyone could have possibly lived in this, but it’s far-enough in the sticks that I don’t really picture this being a dumping ground for others.
Beyond the kitchen was a living room and and probably a spare room; the latter was completely inaccessible due to buildup of whatever. In the living room were a couple interesting things; first being a 60s-vintage sunburst clock hanging on the wall, which I recognized immediately as my grandparents had the same one. The other being a torn collage of photographs on a pile of stuff – on which I noticed the exterior of the very house we were in, offering an oft-unseen glimpse of the people who actually lived, here.
Heading upstairs it became apparent that a couple different families probably lived here at the same time, as there was a second, completely furnished kitchen with more bedrooms to match – all of which ALSO buried in crap. We didn’t get too far up there, though, before momentarily-freezing at the sight of a equally-frozen raccoon, laying atop a pile of trash. Unsure what its deal was, we decided it was probably not worth provoking, and missed shooting that entire area of the second floor, in which I could see a pile of vintage televisions in the next room. In retrospect: it was probably dead, but still – none of us felt like going for a rabies shot.
The only other room we got to see up there was pretty small and un-noteworthy beyond some records and a calendar hanging on the wall – frozen in February 1986, which is when I’m guessing this place was vacated. We skipped going into the basement in case of more lurking critters, and decided to just call it, then.
Later that year, I learned the airport completely leveled this property.