New Hamburg's Curious Guests – Wappingers Falls, New York - Atlas Obscura

New Hamburg's Curious Guests

Wappingers Falls, New York

Trio of female dolls rotate positions and outfits daily at this strange historic home. 


For all those living in the vicinity of the New Hamburg train station in New York, a strange spectacle piques the interest. Two townhouses before the trains leading south into New York City lies a home whose guests are of an uncanny nature. Strange indeed, their presence hints to some sort of unsolved mystery. This mystery involves a porch occupied by a changing number of life-size female dolls dressed in different trends from the twentieth century, whose number, position, and theme vary from day to day.

While all the other houses on Main Street are somewhat modern, the Greek Revival wood frame structure of the John Lawson House, built in 1845, is one of the only surviving structures on the block from an 1877 fire. On the day that the first four of the photographs above were taken, two of the three dolls were facing an abandoned building down the road that is well known as the only other surviving historical house on the block. The remaining doll was facing the Hudson River to the west.

To add to the historical background of the area, in 1871 amidst a two-week record-breaking cold wave, a train wreck occurred in which 22 people were killed less than two hundred feet away from the house.

A number of quirky objects accompany the dolls on the porch including a cut-up plastic milk container containing potpourri, which has changed location from one day to another, a sling-shot hanging from the ceiling, an empty bird-cage, and a white stool/box containing a brush and a small white towel. Neighbors don’t seem to know anything about the current owners of the house, which is one of six properties on the block known as the Main Street Historic District.

At night, a kitchen light can be seen through the drape covering the front door. A vegetable garden is kept in the backyard. On many rainy days, the dolls disappear into the quarters of the paint-peeled home. This house and its bizarre guests can surely be described as, if nothing else, a curiosity.

Update: As of August 2016 the mannequins have moved to a new home nearby on Route 9W as confirmed by a former neighbor who was not forthcoming with new location. The mannequins are on the new property of the former homeowners,  however are not visible from the road due to a long driveway.