Down Memory Lane

Exploring the Abandoned Marlborough Commons

By Sean and Amanda

I grew up in the town of Marlborough, living there for over twenty years. As a child, it felt like there was no better place in the world to grow up. The typical Saturday would start off by getting our coffee and donuts at Cavalieri’s Bakery. Then we would do our grocery shopping at Pat’s Market. A short drive down the road, we would have lunch at Carilli’s Café. We would do some gift shopping and beanie baby hunting at the fabled Marlborough Barn. We would have dinner at the Marlborough Tavern. Then we’d close out the day with some live music at Pine Needle’s. That was life as a kid in Marlborough, Connecticut. Today? All of that is gone. All of the aforementioned establishments have gone out of business over the last fifteen years. The town that I once knew and loved is no more.

Some places, like Cavalieri’s Bakery and the Marlborough Barn, eventually came under new ownership and re-opened under different names. Pine Needle’s became our town’s resident Dunkin Donuts. The Marlborough Tavern and Pat’s Market still sit empty after several failed re-openings, just waiting for the next entrepreneur to take a chance on the property. But one structure of the town has completely gone under: The Marlborough Commons. Sitting right beside the entrance and exit to Route 2, The Marlborough Commons was a two-floor multi business establishment. Included in their parking lot was Carilli’s Café. This place has been closed for almost a decade. The Marlborough Commons never quite picked up traction economically. Over the years, it limped on with multiple businesses coming and going before finally succumbing to defeat. The gates to the Marlborough Commons are now closed, and a large “FOR SALE” sign now sits out front.

I used to drive by the abandoned Marlborough Commons all the time. I have always wanted to conduct an investigation for the website here. I have never had the opportunity to do any urban exploring within my hometown. After doing some research and asking around town, I was not able to turn up much of any information on the site. There is a posting online listing the property as for sale though. It seems like the place is just a bad memory that this town is trying to forget. There have been a lot of talks over the years about a grocery chain possibly purchasing the grounds and building a new store there. Nothing has ever come of these talks, allegedly due to the poor location and the competition from the neighboring “Stop and Shop” just a few miles down the road in East Hampton.

On a cold December day, we decided to pay The Marlborough Commons a visit. Due to its close proximity to the highway Route 2 and sitting right along the busy Route 66, getting into the Marlborough Commons was a little difficult. There are literally dozens of cars driving by every minute. The local police also have been known to use the lot of the Marlborough Commons to catch speeders. So we had to be careful. The site has always been easy to identify due to the large white sign out front, reading “The Marlborough Commons” in black cursive writing. The sign has sadly begun to fade, and wild vines now grow all over it. The gate to the parking lot is closed and locked, so we were not able to drive directly up the buildings. However there is a small space in front of the gate where a car can easily pull up.

During its heyday, the main building of the Marlborough Commons was home to at least two businesses. There was the law office of Erik S. Young, a local attorney. The signs bearing his name can still be seen. Beside that was the “Memory Lane” scrapbooking store, its white sign and pink wallpaper still beckoning people to come in. There may have been more businesses operating here when the Marlborough Commons closed, but they must’ve taken their signs because these were the only two we could identify. The front of the building is in very good shape. Aside from the cracking pavement and slowly encroaching vines, the Marlborough Commons looks like it could still be in operation. There are no broken windows, graffiti, or liter visible anywhere. This could most likely be attributed to the building’s close proximity to a highly trafficked and policed road.IMG_3103

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The back of the building is a totally different story though. Many of the windows have been smashed. The doors are all boarded up. The paint is rapidly peeling. From the road, the Marlborough Commons looks like it’s still alive. But from the back, it looks ghastly and clearly abandoned. Inside, the buildings have been completely cleared out. All furniture and other items were most likely removed when they went out business, leaving the insides just a barren wasteland. Aside from some liter, it is completely empty from room to room. Farther down the lot was Carilli’s Café. The front of this former restaurant is now completely overgrown with plant life. Every single window and door has been crudely boarded up with cheap plywood. It has clearly suffered from vandalism in the past, as this place was sewn up very tightly with no way in without breaking in.

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While it was nice to take a stroll down memory lane by revisiting the Marlborough Commons, seeing this former corner stone of the town of Marlborough in this state of disrepair was sad indeed. This place was once a busy and bustling part of the community, where people could get some legal counseling, stock up on art supplies, or grab lunch with some friends at Carilli’s Café. Now, it is merely a hollow shell. It has become one of the many great local businesses to have fallen under the crushing weight of the world. Who knows what the future holds for this place. Maybe someday businesses will return, but they most likely won’t. The rest of the town is steadily moving on without it. The Marlborough Commons now waits in disrepair, a grim reminder to the people of Marlborough what our town was once like.

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