The Explorographer

Valley of the Dolls House ~ Sayre, PA

On a recent photo adventure with fellow shooter Louis Quattrini we ran in to a hiccup and decided to stop into a local pub in Sayre, PA to re-configure our day. The best laid plans and all that. So, two photographers walk into a bar…. oh, have you already heard this one? I bet you haven’t.

Behind the bar, standing next to a vintage Bevador, is an elderly gentleman who greets us with a warm welcome as we enter the pub. “How can I help you boys?”, he says in a trustworthy voice. He inquires as to what brings us by the pub on this day. We proceed to tell him what we are up to and with a sheepish grin he says, “I have something you boys can photograph”. Lou and I look at each other oddly and wonder what his next line might be. He just raises his arm and points towards two doors at the back of the bar. Being the adventurers we are we grabbed our packs and headed for the doors. Through the doors we find a dark and very narrow staircase stacked with old mattresses. We carefully make our way up the steps to the first floor. As we look around we realize it is the remnants of an old hotel. Apparently an artist occupied the first and second floors of this old place for the last 20+ years rent free before he was evicted. From the condition of the place and the items that we discovered, we can see why that might have happened.

Lou headed off to one room while I checked out another. The very first thing I find is this strange message on the wall.

I spot a table with some unique bottles to shoot and try to get the “bad luck indicator” out of my mind. That is a bit hard though considering that I am being watched by this guy..

Needless to say, this is only the beginning of the weirdness we find in this place. I really need to start learning to read the signs! Oh yeah, back to those bottles I found.

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Another crazy find in this cluttered room is a really strange tin with two white tiger cubs on it. I dig the light so I decide to set up the shot.

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No matter how much I try to ignore it, that mask just keeps staring at me. Crazy clown mask! Just about then Lou comes around the corner and scares the daylights out of me…and mentions there are some cool books I need to see around the corner. So I grab my gear and head in to the hall. Oh great!! Another mask! This one is quite different. Although it is my favorite shot of the day, it creeps me out to look at this photo because it’s a cast of a real girls face. Makes you wonder about the story behind it.

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Thanks Lou! Now I am going to have nightmares for a month. Another strange note, notice the book behind the mask. Befitting of the whole scene don’t you think? Meanwhile Lou has headed to the second floor and tells me to come on up. So up the steps I go. Clothes, dressers, beds, luggage, everything seems frozen in time. The absence of human presence in a place that seems as if someone should be coming home any minute is a very eerie feeling. I walk into what seems to have once been a normal bedroom, right up until I see these on the wall.

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Yep, a aqua/yellow wall with shoes mounted on it. Perfectly normal, for this place. I check out the next room and see a cool kodak camera. The scene seems staged, right up until I take a closer look at the photos on the dresser with the camera.

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A picture of a rat, a small child with a weird caption over his face that reads, I wonder if I’ll ever know about everything in my world. I ask about the things that puzzle me. I know some new thing every day. Still I wonder. and next to that a small girl in a wheel chair with a caregiver and what looks to be her mother outside of a hospital or asylum. Yeah, the closer you look at the stuff here, the more you know you probably shouldn’t. Speaking of which, here is a shot of what has been behind me the entire time I was shooting the camera scene.

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Okay, I am starting to see a theme here. Albeit not a good one. I am sure glad that I know for sure this place is abandoned, otherwise I think the shoot would be over and I would be back at the bar having a cold one. Lou calls me in to check out his latest find. A cool old hospital bed, with a skull!!

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Of course it’s not real. This place sure has a lot of heads, and dolls in it. I do manage to find something cool in the upstairs hall that’s not a head or a doll be is cool. And to some of my friends, this would be the coolest thing EVER.

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Yes, it’s a beer cap table. I thought this was pretty cool, well, except for the Zima caps. Sorry beer cap table builder, epic fail. On last room to check out on the top floor and oooh look, its another head! This one looks like a reject from a Nightmare on Elm Street.

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Actually it’s a clay modelling sculpture head, not unlike the one forensic scientists use to reconstruct evidence. I am no longer surprised to find something like this here. 🙂 We wrap up the top floor and head back down to the first floor to shoot some shots of a cool stove that Lou spotted on the way in. While waiting for Lou to finish his shots, I spot….yes more heads! These are far creepier from the rest. I decide to set them up on the stove and take some shots. For your creepiness pleasure.

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Having had our fill of weirdness for the day we decide to head out. We head back down the stairs to the back room and then to the bar. I pause briefly to take a shot of this sign hanging in the back of the pub.

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We thank the gentleman at the bar and head out. As we start to cross the street I take a quick glance back and notice that the pubs lights are out and the closed sign is up. For some reason, it doesn’t phase me one bit. This was one weird, whacked-out wonderfully strange Saturday adventure.
See, I told you that you haven’t heard this one before. 😉



Explore. Photograph. Write. Repeat.

A multi-award winning travel photographer and mentor. Most known for his "abandonscape" images. Creator and curator of and

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  • This is by far the most amazing coolest story & batch of photos & I think perhaps my most favorite Ive ever seen. I love the randomness of it all…. Those stumbled moments where you meet unique individuals leads to amazing opportunities . This could be a book all by itself 🙂

  • Amazing! I’m hoping you might tell me whereabouts this place is that you happened upon. I was unable to determine the location from this post. I respect people’s privacy but would love to know where this is located for a possible personal urban exploration experience.

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