The Shores of Despair

New England’s Abandoned Coastal Buildings

Written by: Sean L

Photos by: Amanda H

Few natural forces of this planet have been as influential on mankind’s history as the sea. It is a place where many have gone in search of life, but some found only death. It is home to many different types of life. Mammals, birds, fish, reptiles all thrive off of the nourishment that the sea provides. Mankind is no exception. Throughout our existence, we have built our homes and constructed our civilizations around the life force of the ocean. From its waters, we have found food, water, recreation, inspiration, and even love. The hearts of empires, such as New York City, London, Tokyo, Rio de Janiero, have all thrived over centuries along the shores of the ocean. It provides us with life, but also fascination. But sadly, nothing lasts forever. Over the years, many of these empires have fallen to the sands of time. We have explored many abandoned coastal buildings over the years. Some were used for war, others were used for vacationing. Though these places have long since been left behind, they remain as haunting and as enchanting as the sea itself. Here are our favorite abandoned buildings along the New England coastline.

#1: Seaside Sanatorium, Waterford, Connecticut

While the state of Connecticut is home to several notorious abandoned medical facilities, Seaside Sanatorium is one of the more picturesque locations. The building itself was designed by the famous architect Cass Gilbert, the same man responsible for the famous US Supreme Court building in Washington DC and New Haven’s Union Station. The facility was opened during the early 1930’s, seeing a long and colorful history that lasted until 1996. Over the years it has served as a children’s hospital, a treatment center for the elderly, and a facility for the mentally handicapped. Sadly, the facility was home to several incidents of violent treatment of patients in the early 1990’s which would ultimately cause its demise. The grounds now sit abandoned, though they can be legally walked as a recreation area. The grounds come to life during the summer, as dozens of beachgoers flock to the shores. During the winter, it remains cold and lonely. Though the building is rather easy to get into, it is very unsafe and unstable inside. The grounds are also patrolled by a private security company around the clock. Note that you don’t have to get inside to truly appreciate the wonders of this forgotten place.

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#2: Fort Mansfield, Westerly, Rhode Island

The ruins of Fort Mansfield are located at the very edge of Napatree Point in village of Watch Hill. The United States military first purchased the property in 1898, as part of a new program to install artillery batteries all along the coast of New England. The fort was officially commissioned in 1902. However, during the war games of the early 1900’s, a fatal flaw was discovered in the fort’s design. The guns of the fort would be unable to repel a head-on assault from the sea, and it would be an easy target for an amphibious assault. Thus, the fort was decommissioned from active status in 1909. Over the years, the garrison of the fortress slowly dwindled as the military lost all interest and faith in it. The land was finally sold back to the town of Westerly in 1928. The fortress has remained abandoned ever since. The few buildings that once housed soldiers and equipment were demolished years ago. But the concrete structure of the fort still stands, lost amongst the vegetation of Napatree Point. During the summer, this area is a bird sanctuary. It is relatively quiet throughout the other seasons. The fortress is completely legal to visit, if you can find it.

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#3: Bates Motel, Truro, Massachusetts

Between the luxurious hotels and extravagant summer homes of Cape Cod lies a place that would make even Psycho creator and horror master Alfred Hitchcock himself uneasy. To this day, we have found very little information at all on the Bates Motel. We cannot even be positive if that is its real name. It does in fact bear a striking resemblance to the fabled motel of the film Psycho and its contemporary series Bates Motel. From what we have gathered, the motel has been abandoned for at least twenty years after an alleged family legal dispute. It has been the sight of many alleged hauntings, and it is smack dab in the middle of a very rich neighborhood. What we can tell you is that Bates Motel is located in the small town of Truro, Massachusetts. It is the second to last town on the furthest corner of Cape Cod, just slightly south of the beloved and lively Provincetown. The motel is privately owned, and NO TRESPASSING signs are clearly visible. All of the rooms are padlocked. Visit at your own risk. It may not have any connection with the movie legend, but the real Bates Motel is definitely just as creepy.

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#4: Fort Wetherill, Jamestown, Rhode Island

Located in the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill is a mere stone’s throw away from the neighboring town of Newport. The history of the site dates back to the early 18th century. To protect the Narragansett Bay area, Fort Dumpling was built by British forces. After the expulsion, Fort Wetherill was constructed in its place by the American military a mere hundred years later in 1899. As a protector for the wealthy city of the New England mainland, Fort Wetherill proved to be very active during both World Wars as an artillery placement and troop station. Another primary task of the fort was to oversee the minefields erected during World War II. When the conflict ended, Fort Wetherill was decommissioned in 1946. It was then left abandoned for many years. Fortunately, the grounds were reacquired by the State of Rhode Island in the year of 1972. Due to its large granite cliffs and excellent view of the ocean, the grounds were commissioned as a state park. It is currently enjoyed today by many for sailing, fishing, and other water sports. The fortress, however, still stands, and is completely legal to visit. Sadly, it is also heavily enjoyed by the local teenagers for partying, vandalism, and destruction.

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