Eerie photos show a neighborhood of abandoned million-dollar McMansions

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An abandoned home in Beachwood Estates.
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Seph Lawless

In June 2013, heavy rains led to a flood in the Canadian province of Alberta, causing an estimated 6 billion Canadian dollars ($4.3 billion) in property damage.

One of the hardest-hit areas was the town of High River, a suburb of Calgary.

In Beachwood Estates, a High River neighborhood full of million-dollar homes, floodwaters rose so high that residents had to abandon their properties, according to The Calgary Herald.

The photographer Seph Lawless documented the homes before they were sold or demolished earlier in 2017. He captured them, abandoned and eerie, awaiting their fate.


Beachwood Estates was once a thriving community full of pricey homes tucked among more modest ones.

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Seph Lawless

Now the homes are empty and abandoned, virtually untouched for four years.

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Seph Lawless

As part of a relocation platform, the Alberta government bought the homes, according to The Calgary Herald.

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Seph Lawless

Source: The Calgary Herald


Of the 94 properties purchased by the government, 54 were or will be demolished and 26 were put up for sale.

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Seph Lawless

The fate of the rest is still up in the air.

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Seph Lawless

The relocation program cost the community 92.9 million Canadian dollars ($66.8 million).

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Seph Lawless

Source: The Calgary Herald


The remaining homes were empty until early 2017, when they were auctioned off by the Alberta government to recoup some losses.

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Seph Lawless

The auction for the homes started at 50 Canadian dollars.

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Seph Lawless

Eleven of the homes hit the hammer below 100,000 Canadian dollars, but a few sold for about double that.

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Seph Lawless

The most expensive sold for 262,500 Canadian dollars. The property values for many of the homes verged near 1 million Canadian dollars before the flood.

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Seph Lawless

The auction came with a huge catch, however.

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Seph Lawless

In addition to rehabilitating the abandoned houses, buyers must also move them.

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Seph Lawless

After the flood, it was found that the homes were built on a flood plain of the nearby Highwood River.

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Seph Lawless

Though numerous projects have been undertaken since the flood, it still isn’t completely safe to live on the flood plain, city officials say.

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Seph Lawless

Source: The Calgary Herald


Moving a house is a daunting prospect.

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Seph Lawless

The homes will cost tens of thousands of Canadian dollars to move, in a conservative estimate. According to the Calgary Sun, many of the bidders have backed out since the auction.

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Seph Lawless

Source: Calgary Sun


Since the homes are large, they must first be taken apart and then moved piece by piece.

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Seph Lawless

This necessitates the removal of the roof as well.

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Seph Lawless

Buyers had 160 days to move their new houses, which means the structures are now spread out across the country.

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Seph Lawless

The local government is now in the process of returning the land to its natural state.

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Seph Lawless

That includes removing utilities and filling in basements.

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Seph Lawless