Some things are irreplaceable, and most of us would sooner give up a limb than part with our most prized possessions. Letting something you love go willingly – whether it be a favorite shirt, beloved book, or even a lucky pair of underwear – is one thing, but if someone were to try and take said object of affection by force… well, they’d be in for a rude awakening.
Unwilling to part with their homes, property, and livelihoods, these 20 real-estate holdouts proved that, when they said they weren’t going anywhere, they meant it. Even as the outside world slowly crept in around them, these admirably stubborn individuals stood their ground — and the results have to be seen to be believed.
1. 1438 Northwest 46th Street: Located in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, this 108-year-old farmhouse was owned by Edith Macefield. She refused to sell her home despite receiving a $1 million offer. In 2009, Disney publicists tied balloons to the house’s roof as a promotional tie-in to their film, Up.
2. Wenling “Nail House”: After Luo Baogen refused to sell his property to make way for a major highway, the Chinese government simply decided to lay the road around him.
3. Café Chez Salah: Salah Oudjani wasn’t going to sell when approached by developers in 2011. Even after the city cut off his utilities, Oudjani continues to serve the few loyal customers he has left in the old French neighborhood of Roubaix.
4. 54 Saint Patrick Street: When this homeowner refused to sell, the crafty developers buying up the property around them had a simple solution: cut it in half. Thankfully, the demolition didn’t damage the remaining half of the home’s facade.
5. Guangzhou “Nail House”: Chinese developers were forced to build a ring road around this block of flats after the three families that owned the buildings collectively resolved to stay put.
6. 127 South Columbia Place: Purchased in 1961 by Vera Coking, this Atlantic City summer home became embroiled in an eminent domain case after Donald Trump sought to demolish it. Coking prevailed in the end, though the home was significantly devalued as a result.
Press of Atlantic City
7. Taiyuan “Nail Grave”: The descendants of this deceased family refused to remove their remains when a developer wanted the land. The construction crew subsequently carved out the gravesite, leaving this 30-foot column.
8. Figo House: This home was nearly condemned by TriMet, Portland’s mass transit authority so that it could be sold to the nearby Portland State University. But its owner argued against the use of eminent domain and won the case.
9. Suzhou “Nail House”: Petty developers decided to dig a moat around the one house that refused to sell. Now, the elderly couple that lives here has to wade through knee-deep water just to leave their property.
10. 249 West End Avenue: This slender abode was once part of a larger 5-house complex before developers decided to replace the neighborhood’s townhouses. Then-owner Mary Cook refused to budge, however, and the home has remained snugly in place for nearly a century.
Daytonian in Manhattan
11. Rui’an “Half Nail”: Zheng Meiju remains in her 5-floor nail house despite the fact it was split in half. Even without running water and electricity, Ms. Zheng maintains that living in the derelict building is better than the alternative: life on the streets.
12. The Thirsty Beaver Saloon: Located on prime real estate in the heart of Charlotte, NC, it’s no wonder the owners of this local watering hole refused to sell when developers came calling. Despite being dwarfed by the massive apartment complex that surrounds it, the Thirsty Beaver is staying put.
13. Guangfuli “Nail Neighborhood”: With the compensation they were offered to move out of one of Shanghai’s wealthiest areas being embarrassingly low, an entire neighborhood resolved to stay put. Today, the small community of shanties sits within the shadows of the surrounding million-dollar apartments.
Business Insider UK
14. The “Million-Dollar Corner”: Robert H. Smith purchased the small plot on the corner of 34th Street and Broadway for $1 million in order to prevent Macy’s from claiming it was the largest in the world. Well, Macy’s built around the small plot and erected a sign on the building proclaiming itself as “the world’s largest store.”
15. Narita Airport Farm: For organic farmer Takao Shito, keeping his century-old property has come at the price of literally living beneath Japan’s Narita Airport. After refusing to sell, the airport built around him.
The Japan Times
16. Changsha “Nail House”: This lone nail house also served as a clothing shop for the village that once stood here. However, with a luxury mall just a few yards away, it’s unlikely that the residents will be in business much longer.
17. 433 Massachusetts Avenue NW: Austin Spriggs gained nationwide attention after refusing to sell his home during the real-estate boom of the early 2000s. After an apartment complex and an office building popped up alongside it, however, Spriggs relented, and in 2011, he sold the home for just under $1 million.
Mr.TinDC / Flickr
18. Luotuo “Nail House”: Remarkably, this tenant isn’t refusing to move because of ties to the land or low relocation offers: he’s just trying to decide what to do with the money. In the meantime, motorists on this Ningbo highway will have to drive around the nail house if they want to get where they’re going.
19. Chongqing “Nail House”: Ms. Wu Ping that declined all offers made on her house and restaurant. After years of legal battles, Ms. Wu finally sold her property for an unprecedented sum and became a celebrity in the process.
20. Yangji River Houses: These developers actually diverted a river to encircle the homes of the remaining holdouts! In the future, these proud buildings might end up abandoned all together — like these…
21. Ross Island (Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India): Originally a British settlement nicknamed “Paris of the East,” the vegetation-dominated island now functions as an Indian Naval Base and a tourist destination. In its heyday, British officials called the island home and lavished it with dance halls, clubs, pools, and gardens.
Stefan Krasowski / Flickr
22. The Pontiac Silverdome (Pontiac, Michigan): Once the home to the Detroit Lions and a concert venue for some of the world’s most legendary bands, the Silverdome—now slated for demolition—is littered with trash. An eyesore, the Silverdome is an ugly stepchild compared to this next belle of the ball…
Click on Detroit
23. Graun Church Tower (Lake Reschen, Italy): Tasked with providing a nearby town with electricity in the 1950s, the Italians dug an artificial lake that inadvertently flooded this once-active church. Now, only the bell tower breaks the water’s surface.
Noclador / Wikimedia
24. The Haludovo Palace Hotel (Krk, Croatia): In 1971, Krk needed to bring in some tourism and the Haludovo Palace did just that. Thanks to a $45 million investment from the founder of Penthouse Magazine, the hotel continued to expand. The Yugoslavian wars of the 1990s, however, put an abrupt end to Krk tourism, and the hotel was abandoned.
Tor Lindstrand / Wikimedia
25. Buzludzha Monument (Bulgaria): It started as the House of the Bulgarian Communist Party. When the communist government lost power in 1989, though, they left the monumental house abandoned in the Bulgarian mountains.
Stanislav Traykov / Wikimedia
26. Maunsell Sea and Air Forts (Thames and Mersey estuaries, United Kingdom): No, those aren’t AT-ATs ripped straight out of The Empire Strikes Back. They were air forts designed during the height of chaos in World War II as defense systems against the German air force. Speaking of war…
Mansell Forts / Wikimedia
27. Abandoned Submarine Base (Baklava, Ukraine): This aquatic facility was designed for something sinister: nuclear ready submarines, built by the USSR during the Cold War. Thankfully, this base’s purpose was never fully realized, and the Russian Federation gifted it to the Ukrainian Navy in 2000.
Alexxx1979 / Wikimedia
28. The City of Pripyat (Ukraine): Appearing to be frozen in time, the city of Pripyat remained practically untouched since 1986, when a disaster at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant forced the town to evacuate. This is one you might want to stay away from.
Clay Gilliland / Wikimedia
29. Kolmanskop (Namibia): Germany brought their architecture to Namibia when their miners arrived to hunt for diamonds. As the British did with Ross Island, the German miners furnished the city with luxuries like bowling alleys. When gold was discovered elsewhere, however, the miners abandoned the city, leaving it to be slowly consumed by sand dunes.
30. The Orpheum Theater (New Bedford, Massachusetts): Opening the same day that the Titanic sank in 1912, this theater was every bit as luxurious as the doomed cruise ship. However, even the large ballroom and shooting range couldn’t keep the place from shutting down for good in 1962.
New Bedford Orpheum Rising Project / Facebook
31. Michigan Central Station (Detroit, Michigan): Once the world’s tallest train stations until it was dethroned by Japan’s Nagoya Station, Michigan Central Station became a shell of its former self once Amtrak stopped service there. Still, it’s in better condition than the next abandoned building…
Albert duce / Wikimedia
32. Bannerman Castle (Beacon, New York): A Scottish arms dealer once used this abandoned building—then fully operational—for munitions storage. That proved to be the fatal flaw for the castle, as a powder explosion in the 1920s and a few ownership changes have left the castle a husk of its former glory.
Bannerman Castle Trust / Facebook
33. Prora (Rügen, Germany): It may not look like much on the outside, but this three-mile-long structure was supposed to be a luxury hotel, commissioned by Hitler in 1939. The construction stalled, and the resort never opened; however, recently, construction has begun again. Would you pay a visit?
lostbastard / Wikimedia
34. Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): In its heyday, this prison housed some of the most notorious villains history has to offer—Al Capone and Slick Willie, to name a few.
Sakeeb Sabakka / Flickr
35. St. Nicholas Church (Mavrovo Lake, Macedonia): This submerged church in Macedonia can be explored during a period of drought, when the water of this man-made lake recedes. Built in 1850, it was abandoned about 100 years ago.
Darko Nikolovski / Wikimedia
36. City Methodist Church (Gary, Indiana): When the steel industry took a hit in the 1970s, Indianans were forced to cut some losses, one of which was this $1 million church erected in the 1920s. Abandoned since 1975, this church has been on Hollywood’s radar and has acted as a filming location for quite a few box office hits, like Pearl Harbor.
Peter Fitzgerald / Wikimedia
37. Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, Kentucky): Until an antibiotic was created in 1961, this hospital, completed in the 1920s, treated tuberculosis patients. Allegedly, some of these not-so-lucky patients never left and haunt the premises to this day.
Aaron Vowels / Flickr
38. Sathorn Unique Building, “Ghost Tower” (Bangkok, Thailand): The breathtaking views from this tower inspire travelers from all over to take the dangerous climb up to the top. Built in the 1990s, the Sathorn building’s life didn’t last long, and it was abandoned in 1997.
Alexander Blecher / Wikimedia
39. Bodie (California): As Will Smith once rapped, “It’s the wild, wild, west,” and in Bodie, California, that still rings true. A happenin’ place in the thick of the gold rush, Bodie has since been abandoned and now attracts tourists interested in ghost tours.
Mispahn / Wikimedia
40. Teufelsberg (Berlin, Germany): On top of a hill built from the rubble of World War II—known as “Devil’s Hill”—this abandoned structure once served as listening stations for the United States. With this tower, the U.S. intercepted radio signals from East Berlin.
Jochen Teufel / Wikimedia
41. New York State Pavilion (Flushing Meadows, New York): Observation towers, theaters, and more more suspension cables than you can throw an acrobat at, these structures once comprised a fairground constructed by some of architecture’s top minds.
42. Nara Dreamland (Nara, Japan): This once-bustling theme park was inspired by Disneyland, but its brightly painted attractions couldn’t compete. In 2006, the park shut down thanks to declining visitors.
43. Centro Financiero Confinanzas (Caracas, Venezuela): Construction of this would-be financial center took a big hit in the 1990s when its central investor passed away. Left abandoned, squatters took over and created a community there—until they were all evicted in 2015. Decrepit as it is, is it in better shape than our next abandoned building?
EneasMx / Wikimedia
44. Garnet (Montana): Tucked away in lush, green pines, this former mining colony was abandoned once the gold dried up. Only 1,000 people lived there at its peak, but today, you can visit and get a supposedly authentic ghost town experience.
Bureau of Land Management / Flickr
45. Craco (Italy): This hilltop ghost town might have been thriving in the 8th century, but today, it’s been a victim of some of Mother Nature’s most destructive forces: a landslide in 1963, a flood in 1972, and earthquake in 1980.
Wallora / Wikimedia
46. Canfranc International Railway Station (Canfranc, Spain): Nazis took over this train station in the 1940s, which put a damper on its use as a train hub. In the 1970s, a train crash damaged some of the station’s tracks, effectively ending its run.
47. Floating Forest (Sydney, Australia): To the naked eye, the Floating Forest may look like an overly lush sand barge, but it’s really a retired aircraft carrier that’s taken on a new purpose: serving as a home to mangrove trees.
Jason Baker / Flickr
48. Letchworth Village (Rockland County, New York): Unlike the other hospitals on this list, this once-expansive campus didn’t shut down with a tuberculosis cure. Used to test polio vaccines, Letchworth closed in 1996 when abuse and hazardous conditions ran rampant.
Doug Kerr / Wikimedia
49. Hotels in Varosha (Famagusta, Cyprus): In 1974, Turkish troops invaded Varosha, which put an end to these tourist hotspots, as potential occupants weren’t fond of vacationing in hostile territory. Today, the beachside hotels remain empty.
Vikimach / Wikimedia
50. Spreepark Amusement Park (Berlin, Germany): No, it’s not Jurassic Park, but this dinosaur-themed amusement park did offer Tyrannosaurus rex-sized fun to patrons when it opened in 1969. However, it faced a bitter demise in 2002, shutting down due to lack of interest.
Jan Bommes / Flickr
51. Hashima Island (Japan): You might recognize it from the James Bond film Skyfall but it hasn’t seen a ton of action, outside of Hollywood films and daily tours, since the undersea coal mines ran dry in 1974. Created as a place to house miners, this island was home to as many as 5,000 people in 1959.
kntrty / flickr
52. Chateau Miranda (Celles, Belgium): Fleeing the guillotine and the reign of terror that followed its invention, French aristocrats built this palace as a safe haven. Soon after, it became an orphanage before shutting down completely.
Bert Kaufman / Wikimedia
53. Gwrych Castle (North Wales): In the 1800s, this castle was equipped with 128 rooms that included dedicated smoking and billiards rooms. Though plans are on the table to turn this abandoned building into a luxury hotel, no steps have been taken towards that goal.
54. Holy Family Orphanage (Marquette, Michigan): Though it only closed in 1965, this orphanage has accumulated enough rumors and stories about its operations to fill a book. Legend has it you can still hear children playing on its grounds.
P. Gordon / Wikipedia
55. The Moynaq Ship Graveyard (Uzbekistan): Beached ships are a strange sight in their own rights, but how about beached ships over 100 miles from the nearest body of water? The ships rotting in this graveyard once floated dormant on one of the world’s largest lakes, the Aral Sea—until it dried up.
Arian Zwegers / Wikimedia