Archive for the ‘car dealership’ Category

Everything Must Go

Visiting Manchester’s Abandoned Car Dealership

Written by: Sean L

Photographs by: Amanda H

IMG_3195

   Good credit? Bad credit? No credit? We finance everyone! Zero money down, zero percent financing, zero hassle! Get approved today! Everything must go! Come on down! Yeah, car dealerships are seemingly everywhere today. These lines are recognized by just about everyone, because they are something that we are all familiar with. It’s impossible to avoid. We hear about them constantly on the radio. Their advertisements invade our favorite television shows. Their giant billboards decorate our highways. Most car dealerships today are family run, seemingly age old dynasties. They are empires, ruling over the world of used cars with an iron fist. But what happens when these empires inevitably crumble? What happens when there aren’t any more customers, or cars to sell? What happens to the giant inflatable gorilla and all the tacky promotional stuff that these dealerships use? It all fades away. Like a dying tree, these places fold up, and their ashes are cast to the four winds, leaving nothing but empty lots and broken dreams.

IMG_3193

We visited one of these fallen empires during the early days of 2015. Formally known as “Family Auto of Manchester,” this former dealership was open for about twenty years. Located along Main Street, Manchester, the dealership was in a pretty decent location. There are, however, much larger dealerships in the area that caused competition. It went out of business about a year ago. From what we could find in our research, the place was not very well liked by its customers. We found one scathing review on Google Plus condemning the dealership for its unprofessionalism, poor service, and disrespect for its female customers. Perhaps things like this had something to do with its downfall. I can tell you that ironically, I shopped for a car here once when I was sixteen. It was an Acura Integra. Though I saw no real issues with the place, I didn’t end up buying the car because I was just too tall for it. Seven years later, I returned to this place, though it is now abandoned.

IMG_3197

“Family Auto of Manchester” is located right on Main Street, Manchester. Though it is not nearly as trafficked of a road as others in Manchester, it is still a pretty busy area. It is right next to a heavily used gas station and a few small businesses. It is also right down the street from a Walgreens and the lovable local watering hole The Main Pub. Funny enough, there are also several auto repair shops located very closely to the abandoned dealership. From what we had gathered, lots of people parked their cars at the empty lot when they could not find street parking. Whether this is legal or not remains to be seen. So for our investigation, we simply drove up and parked alongside the abandoned dealership. Luckily, this was all before we had piles of snow on the ground. The lot itself was in really bad shape. There are pot holes everywhere, and cracks ripple through the pavement like a spider web. Thick yellow grass protrudes from the cracks here and there. We also found piles of leaves and a few tires scattered around the lot.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The building itself is in moderately good shape. Though the paint is now fading and aging, the building was clearly never a very good color. It’s rather bland tan paintjob is now accented with a decaying brown. Only one or two of the windows have been broken, and there appears to be no structural damage. The walls, however, are absolutely coated in graffiti and gang signs. It’s everywhere; on the walls, on the windows, on the pavement. The place is definitely a hot spot for teenagers and delinquents who have nothing better to do with their time. Along the outer windows, there are still brightly colored and worded signs offering hassle free financing and credit approval. Old wiring and air conditioning units still cling the walls, though they have been devoid of power for some time now. Attached to the building is the garage. Clearly some sort of animal is living in here, as we found evidence of it and because there is a perfectly sized hole that has been made in the garage door. This was also the way inside of the dealership.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is rather dark and foreboding inside the garage, but inside the dealership is very bright. The outer wall of the building is solid glass, so you can see inside no problem. The inside of the dealership is very eerie. Most of the furniture has been left behind for some reason. Inside the main office, a desk still sits with a once comfy looking chair accompanying it. Out on the sales floor, a large round table and four chairs still sit, waiting for the next deal to be made. Several desks are pushed into the corner, with stacks of old paper and other liter strewn across them. A bunch of old computer parts and car manuals lie in ruin on one of the old tables. There are even a few carpets left behind on the floor. A pair of old school vending machines, the kind where you put in a quarter and get a handful of candy, are back along the wall, though they are now empty and covered in dust. Sadly enough, a forgotten plant still waits for water as it gathers sunshine in the main window.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Having been here and test driving a car here all those years ago, it was very interesting to return now that the place is abandoned. The lot once full of beat up used cars now lies empty and broken. I stood in the exact spot where I turned down an offer to buy a car here. And today, I am very glad that I did turn down that offer. Not just because of the height issue, but because this place has completely fallen into darkness. To answer my question from earlier, this is what becomes of these once illustrious car dealerships when their empires finally crumble. There are no more radio ads, no more tacky gimmicks, and no more used cars. They simply lie in ruin, waiting for a day that will probably never come. Though it has long since gone under, “Family Auto of Manchester” still haunts the main street of this busy little town. And even though its signs still beckon eager car shoppers to enter its gates with the temptation of financing, you won’t find any obnoxious salesmen or tacky decorations here. Everything is gone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


 

Out of Business

The Abandoned Buildings of Route 85

 By: Sean and Amanda

Growing up in the Hebron area, I had driven down and along Route 85 for as long as I can remember. It is a stretch of road that we would always take to get from Hebron to Colchester or vice versa. It could be busy, at times. But other times it felt like any other road, running between a few sleepy little Connecticut towns a lot of people have never heard of. But this road is more than meets the eye. Much like most towns in the world, the communities along Route 85 have not gone unscathed from economic downturn. Over the years, we have seen several well-known and beloved businesses fall under hard times. Owners of these establishments closed up shop, and the buildings themselves were left at the mercy of the elements. On a cold November day, we decided to pay a visit to a few of these forgotten places.

Commonly used as a route for commuters and travelers between the cities of Hartford and New London, Route 85 is a state highway. Though we have often traveled it on our adventures to get to and from Hebron or Colchester, it actually runs from the northern town of Bolton all the way south to the city of New London. Originally established during the nineteenth century, Route 85 has been a commonly used highway in the state of Connecticut. It has had an assortment of different names over the last hundred or so years, but was officially christened Route 85 during 1932. Though it is kind of a small town road, Route 85 has junctions to major highways including I-95, I-384, and US-44. We were on our way to visit three abandoned buildings located along the more rural part of the route between Hebron and Colchester.

On our trip to Route 85, we parked at the local lot for the Airline Trail State Park. Arguably the biggest and most popular walking site in Connecticut, the trail runs all over the state. We have used it several times during our investigations. Ironically, it was a formerly abandoned railway track that was acquired by the state and turned into hiking trails. The three buildings that we were investigating that day were all within a short walk from each other. They included a former mechanic’s garage, an abandoned antique warehouse, and the beloved Route 85 Lumber yard. Believe it or not, the fabled and familiar site of Camp Connecticut was merely a few miles from us. See our write up on the legendary site here. Since it was a weekend, there was heavy traffic both on the trail and Route 85 itself.

The first place that we visited was the abandoned garage. Directly across from the Airline Trail State Park parking lot, this building was the oldest of the three and in the greatest state of disrepair. The roof had completely caved in over half of the building, and the entire back wall had been demolished on the other half. Most of the windows had been smashed and there was quite a bit of liter. It was only one floor. There was a section that appeared to be the office and then three garage bays. Though there was no recognizable sign left to distinguish the name of this former business, we did find a few old racing team signs on the ground. Lots of old tires, broken glass, and even an old sink were strewn about outside of the garage. Inside, we found quite a bit of evidence that some sort of large animal, more than likely a pack of stray dogs, has been living inside.

The second place that we visited was a quick walk down the road. It was formerly used as a warehouse antique business. A place that my parents used to shop at, it had only been abandoned for the last fifteen years or so. Since the building was made of brick, it was in relatively good shape aside from the forest of vines and vegetation growing around its sides. Though the one of the side doors was completely missing, most of the windows were still intact. Inside, the warehouse was in remarkably good shape. It was four floors and a basement, each floor has a solid metal staircase leading up to the next. A fire escape was also on the fourth floor. We also found what appeared to be evidence of people still living inside. Even though Hebron is not known for its homeless population, we found a few makeshift beds and a still functioning sink. This was not surprising due to the good condition of the inside, but it was only the second time we have ever found people to still be living in an abandoned place. For this reason, we did not stay very long

Our third and final stop for our investigation was Route 85 Lumber. One of the longest running and most memorable small businesses in the town of Hebron, Route 85 Lumber were known to employ a lot of students from the nearby high school and donate materials for local Eagle Scout projects. It sadly went out of business in 2009. Though it is heavily protected, it now sits empty along Route 85. The office is guarded by security cameras and the doors are all heavily locked up. The lumber yard itself is surrounded by a very tall chain link fence with barbed wire around the top, keeping out any unwanted visitors. Though there was not much to see here, we did see a “For Sale” sign out front with a “Sold” sign placed below it. This was potentially good news for this former small business, as it may become the first abandoned place we have visited to come back.

It is good to see that there is hope for one of these sites. We would like to see it make a comeback. The other two, however, may simply be too far gone. They now serve a different purpose; homes to strays and squatters. Though they were once flourishing businesses, many see them now as nothing more than big eyesores. These three sites now sit alone, silently watching the busy traffic of Route 85 pass them by.