I like figuring out true locations behind videos or photos. Urban explorers let me hone this skill.
A note: These explorers are actors. They make entertainment products, not documentaries. Their general pattern is to paint a pseudo-abandoned building with phony drama, nostalgia, or mystery. These fuel emotions that color a walk-through of the building.
Part of their act is obscuring location, adding to the mystery. This means we get fun puzzles to solve.
I’ve nailed the location of the set of one of Carter Banks’s (a.k.a. BigBankz) videos:
This video’s backstory is a doctor who had a famous-actress wife from Europe, a nasty divorce, severe back pain, and financial troubles, leading to a mysterious house abandonment.
Carter left some key clues.
(Licensing note: Some screen captures from the video are below. Their use fall under the fair use doctrine. An example of fair use is use is use of others’ works for commentary and criticism.)
First, you have these pill bottles, which confirm a last name of Dulik:
A phone number is exposed with a different angle on the second pill bottle:
Searching on “295-5458” pharmacy turns up Sullivan Pharmacy from Liberty, New York.
Great, we know this probably a Dulik from Liberty, New York.
Carter also gave us a drone shot, helping us identify the house’s outline.
After a little Googling, I located an Ivan F. Dulik from Liberty, NY. His wife is Consuela Moravkova. Her biography contradicts some things Carter said. Consuela is Czech, not west European, and the “famous actress” in Czechoslovakia theory is stretching the truth. She appears to have only had minor acting roles until her 1979 retirement.
Why is the house abandoned? First, look at the aerial of the site, where you can also confirm the outline:
The red pin is on the explored house. Adjacent are destroyed or condemned buildings. A condemned building is what shows behind the house’s chimney:
Th explored house is part of the Grandview Palace Condominiums. This property is the redeveloped Brown’s Hotel in New York’s Catskills, which had a massive fire in April 2012 and was condemned weeks later.
Here’s the fire:
While the explored house is a detached, single-family home, it’s still part of the condominium complex. That is apparent from a property map from the county, which has no separate parcel for that house:
The likely explanation isn’t a mysterious abandonment. Rather, it’s that the house had to be abandoned because it was no longer safe.
Part of the safety issue appears to be asbestos. A recent proposal by the Town of Fallsburg, to use eminent domain to acquire and redevelop the property, was canceled apparently due to concerns about asbestos-abatement costs.
Finally, the house is not abandoned! For one, it has electricity: the oven and microwave clocks are on. I wonder how many lights would have turned on had Carter flipped switches? (Spookiness is part of the act, so of course they cannot use the lights!) The house isn’t the dusty, rotted mess of something abandoned for years in a humid continental climate that gets 52 inches of rain each year and cold winters. While not maintained well, it is being minimally maintained by someone.
Wait, there’s more! Carter’s buddy Steve Ronin was there and also created a video:
Steve shared a valuable clue, confirming the owner’s identity:
That and another document he found show dates after the massive fire. If the entire complex was condemned, and this house is part of the complex, I am unclear how anyone could reside in it. My guess is Ivan visited the house occasionally to sort out affairs, possibly concluding with an optimistic 2015 attempt to sell it.
This may be Ivan:
And the Japan theory? It probably comes from a photo book of what is likely a medical conference Ivan attended in Japan:
I found property records. Ivan and Consuela still co-own the property. While the actor suggested that Ivan may tried to sell the place for $595,000 almost 10 years ago, the county now says it is worth around $40,000. You can see the property records by looking up property 11.-1-39.02./0101 at Sullivan County’s property-search site. (Interestingly, a search on 11.-1-39 turns up all owners in the condemned condo complex. That backs up other information I found that shows that resolution to the catastrophic fire is absent even 11 years later!)
The property was probably abandoned because it’s part of a condemned condo complex. I’ll bet that Ivan and his wife were prolific shoppers. There’s so much suggestive evidence of that in the house. If so, the things that were left behind were mostly clutter, redundant possessions, or things that were easier to replace than to pack up and move.
This property still has some open questions. They are mundane. But the location puzzle is solved. That’s the fun game!