Ah; this is heartbreaking. Someone posted this awesome photo on the Elders of Goth page the other day, commenting that it was pretty much the ultimate haunted house. Another member identified it as the Webster Wagner House in Palatine Bridge, NY, and noted that it was in terrible disrepair.
I did a bit of digging to find out some more about the house. It was built in 1876 for railroad car magnate–and later senator–Webster Wagner (who, interestingly, died in a tragic fire in one of his own railroad cars). The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, which apparently is why it hasn’t been condemned. Until recently it wasn’t technically abandoned; a reclusive hoarder lived there, refusing to sell and refusing to leave. Of course it’s rumored to be haunted, because what ghost wouldn’t want to live in this awesome pile?
I found this thread on a forum for old house enthusiasts, bemoaning the state of the house and wondering if anything could be done to preserve it. In August of last year, someone identifying himself as a descendant of Wagner posted that the current owner had abandoned it but was locked in a battle with the city. He asked for anyone interested in helping to save the house to contact him.
There ought to be some sort of Gothic Preservation Society whose mission was to buy incredible houses like this and restore them to their spooky best. Indeed, there’s a lovely one just a few miles from where I live: If you go here and switch to Street View you can see it in all its dilapidated glory; Shadowboy is always eager to look for the “haunted house” whenever we drive into town. Sadly, it’s also in danger of demolition and it’s questionable whether it’ll be saved. If I ever won the lottery, I’d do whatever was necessary to restore the house’s structural soundness whilst keeping it looking just like that.
If anybody wants to found a Spooky Old House Retention League, I’d definitely be on board.