Sunset on Sunrise

Remembering Sunrise Resort – Part III

“Once more into the fray. Into the last great fight I shall ever know.

Live and die on this day. Live and die on this day.”

The Grey (2011)

This will be our final installment on the now fabled Sunrise Resort. We have covered our discovery of the resort in the first issue, followed by our investigation of the resort in our second. This final issue will cover our final visit to the grounds, after they had been demolished by the State of Connecticut. We hope that you have learned a thing or two about this place, and why it is important to us. It may be long gone, but it will live forever in the photos that we have taken and the stories that we tell about it. Sunrise Resort was loved by the people of Connecticut for many years. Following her demise, she was left abandoned for over half a decade. Finally, she was demolished by her owners leaving nothing but the memories and the tattered remains of what once was.

Spanning over 140 acres, Sunrise Resort was sold to the State of Connecticut for 2 million dollars after going out of business in 2008. When the state failed to act on reusing/redeveloping the resort, the grounds’ 82 buildings slowly fell into disrepair and became derelict. Though they sat empty and decaying for many years, one state lawmaker was determined to do something about it. Connecticut State Representative Melissa Ziobron, a former employee of Sunrise Resort, was the driving force behind the demolition. For many months, her proposition toiled in the state’s offices. Finally, in the summer of 2013, the demolition was approved. Over the next few months, every last deteriorating building was destroyed. The site has since been rechristened as Sunrise State Park. It was not until over a year afterwards that we decided to return to the site, to see what was left to see.

Since we had first discovered the resort in 2012, we watched it closely. We followed Representative Ziobron’s campaign to have the resort demolished. We had even written a script for an apocalyptic short film to be filmed there in the spring of 2013. Plans for this however fell through following the devastation of several nasty snow storms during the winter, which made the grounds completely impassable. Shortly after that, the grounds were designated off limits to visitors as the state prepared for the demolition of the resort, which would last throughout the summer of 2013. It was later reopened during the fall of that year. In the summer of 2014, we finally decided to make our return to the grounds. Almost exactly two years after we first discovered this abandoned wasteland on a hot summer day, we returned to see what had become of Sunrise Resort.

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At the time we visited the grounds, there was still no visible sign designating the space as Sunrise State Park. We parked our car in the same place that we had parked the last time we had visited the resort, though there is no longer a guard shack to stop cars from pulling up closer. The few buildings at the front of the resort are actually still standing. These buildings are still used by the State of Connecticut for storage. They are heavily padlocked and protected against any intruders, and they still remained as remarkably untouched as we had last seen them two years prior. A few of the buildings have their windows boarded up, some with plywood and others with just cardboard. Though they are looking quite old, they are clearly not abandoned and are the only structures still standing on the grounds.

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We continued down the road further into the resort, though there was no dog following us this time. The large parking lot where school buses used to load and unload visitors is still there, though now it is all dirt and chipped asphalt. From the parking lot, you can see the spot where the old office building and pool used to be. The pool has been completely filled in, and a deep layer of wood chips has been placed on top of it. The office building has been demolished, leaving only a checkered cement foundation that looks like a human chessboard. Farther down the path, we came to where the rows of cabins once stood. Much like the pool, there are just layers of wood chips covering the spots where the structures once stood. Though it had been a long time since we had been here, you can always tell where an old building once stood by the wood chips.

There really wasn’t much to see. Down by the river, everything had been cleared out. Even the old pine tree that stood in front of the dining hall had been removed. The only thing left to distinguish what once was, was the old chimney, still partially standing at the back of the lot. The only other real thing of note here were the sports fields. A few chain link fences had been left up around the baseball diamond, though it is long since overgrown. The tennis courts are still here too, just in very poor shape. We even found the old bocce ball and basketball courts, lost in the weeds where the old children’s center once stood. If you had never seen this place the way it used to be, it would be hard to imagine that is was once a fun filled resort. But with our daylight dying, we decided it was time to call it a day. We bid farewell to Sunrise State Park, as the sun began to set.

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We all have different feelings when we see the sunset. Some of us see the end of the day. Others see the dawning of a new tomorrow. But in a strange way, we can all agree on one thing about them: they can be indescribably beautiful. Not just to the eye, but to the heart. Because a sunset always gives way to sunrise, the dawning of a new day and the chance for a new beginning. That is what we hope that this place has. The sun may have set on Sunrise Resort, but there is glimmer of hope here. Though the resort is long gone, the grounds are still enjoyed. Hikers, fishermen, and dog walkers now heavily frequent the area. The large abandoned buildings have given way to recreational space. The painful sorrow of seeing this doomed summer dream world has passed. And in a place where darkness once ruled, there is finally sunlight for Sunrise.

Comments
  1. Renee says:

    Breaks my heart, use 2 go almost every year when I was a child, thank God 4 memories!!! </3 😥

    Like

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