New Series ‘Abandoned’ Rediscovers, Refurbishes and Resells Forgotten Relics

You know that dilapidated building you drive by on your way to work? Or that boarded-up eyesore wedged between the high-rises downtown? If you’ve ever wanted to just tear them down, you wouldn’t be alone. But there’s a team of collectors who see more than just abandoned buildings… they see dollar signs! Before the bulldozers roll in, their mission is to dig through these dark, dank and dilapidated structures in the hopes of uncovering forgotten pieces of American history that may just be worth a lot of money.

Armed with flashlights, walkie-talkies and brute muscle strength, the guys venture into spooky basements and structurally unsound buildings to find valuables that can be refurbished and resold. This season, they ransack the former Pabst Brewing headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis., rummage through the basement of a historic church in Philadelphia, Pa., and traverse a paper factory the size of 12 football fields in Jay, Maine.

Along the way, they’ll find classic items like Coca-Cola memorabilia, an Edison phonograph, and a Zenith radio, as well as surprising discoveries like an early radiator oven and a top-secret manual for a Boeing B-52 bomber. Jay, Dan and Mark will bargain for relics of all sizes that boast big value, from a stained glass window worth $10,000 to a pile of 19th-century tiles worth  over $100 each.

Often, the hardest part of the job is not finding the treasure, but negotiating the best price for it. Jay haggles with the building owners to make a deal, often encountering stubborn and sentimental proprietors who are attached to nostalgia and family heirlooms. Using his charm, humor and policy of fair prices, Jay rarely ends the day empty-handed. When he’s close to sealing a risky deal, Jay makes a quick phone call to his wife, Ricki Chaikin. Although Jay sports the overalls, Ricki wears the pants in their business relationship. She has the final say when Jay wants to go over budget to buy a big-ticket item. When he returns home to Sellersville, Pa., Jay brings his purchases to his workshop, transforming carts into leather chairs and mill hoppers into custom coffee tables.

About the Team:

Jay Chaikin is the team’s fearless leader—literally. He’ll squeeze into any crack or crevice to collect cool stuff, often risking life and limb to reach a coveted object. He’s also a walking encyclopedia, identifying the industrial and historical value of millstones and reverse paintings as soon as he sees them. In 1996 Jay founded JC Woodworking, a home construction business that builds antique log cabins and barn materials with reclaimed materials.

Dan Graham is one of Jay’s childhood friends and his right-hand man when they explore abandoned buildings. He brings technical know-how to the team, and is also the group’s resident prankster, playing tricks on Mark in especially spooky spots.

Mark Pakenas is the rookie on the team but has no trouble uncovering awesome items, including an early radiator oven. With his strength and a well-timed wisecrack, Mark brings hard work and humor to any trip. But that doesn’t mean nothing scares him: When he finds a not-so-cuddly creature living inside a bucket, the joke’s on him.

Ricki Chaikin is Jay’s wife and the co-owner of JC Woodworking. She’s in charge of the business operations and ensures that the guys stick to budget and bring home enough goods to make a profit. She also has the final word on negotiations and is a tough sell when it comes to Jay’s wish list items, including a flathead V8.

The all-new series, Abandoned, premieres Wednesday August 22 at 9P et/pt


  1. Glenn T.
    n. Carolina
    August 6, 2012, 7:30 am

    to whom might see this/. Do they( abandoned ) have a web site e mail or other additional info? Thanks very much.

  2. nick m
    August 13, 2012, 12:46 am

    How do they get clearance to go in the buildings?

  3. John G
    August 22, 2012, 10:02 am

    Jay has a website @

  4. Zanna
    San Diego
    September 8, 2012, 12:02 pm

    What a shame that National Geographic would air a show that has historical items that in my opinion are priceless based on age & historic value instead why not create a show to air that could save these things that can be. I watched a Gothic Church in PA be picked apart and the owners lowballed on every item.
    What about a show to engage the local community to save its historical sites.

  5. gary
    September 15, 2012, 4:58 am

    does anyone know what or where the building is they show when comming and going to commercial ? looks like the abandon silk mill here in scranton,pa ?????

  6. WCorbitt
    September 16, 2012, 4:10 pm

    I just watched to episode on the MIssissippi farmhouse where they found the maual for the bomber plane used in WWII. What I don’t get is why do they keep refering to this area as a part of the Appalacian Trail. Played it back several times to make sure I was hearing correctly.

  7. thomas glover
    tampa fl
    October 10, 2012, 10:09 am

    i recently saw a show that there was a bowling lanes in it to me you missed a chance on the lanes themselfs as the first 16 feet of the lane beds are made of a real good hard wood that would make a real good table tops the top of the lane is just the edge of the board you may have missed out on a real good deal thanks tom glover

  8. Mike
    Gastonia, nc
    January 14, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Simply, one of the greatest shows on TV! Please keep it up, and keep it the same. It is wonderful, so don’t try and create drama, or make it about people fighting each other or any of he other things that have KILLED great shows. This one is a pure gem!

  9. sharon
    January 31, 2013, 10:43 am

    The mississippi show that was rerun last night really was hysterical. In the first place Mississippi is NOT in appalachia as the announcer said and also he said this was in the mountains. another booboo. No mountains in Mississippi. Maybe a hill or two but no mountains.

    • Meghan Gleason
      January 31, 2013, 1:45 pm

      Hi Sharon, glad you tuned in. The region known as Appalachia actually includes parts of 13 states, from western New York to northern Mississippi!

  10. Mary Jones
    Coalton WV
    March 5, 2013, 9:08 am

    Love the show!!! When I next go to Lansdale, PA, I definitely want to swing by Sellersville and check things out. Maybe I can find some neat things to bring home. And to Sharon and Meghan, I definetly live in Appalachia.

  11. M. Wells
    Rochester, NY
    March 13, 2013, 7:50 pm

    Is this show coming back for another season?

  12. F Sa'u
    New Zealand
    April 6, 2013, 5:46 pm

    The Best show since..
    Happy Days..I love it!!!!
    Next season please!!!

  13. mike
    May 13, 2013, 1:42 pm

    New Episodes?