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The Abandoned Marlborough Commons

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Marlborough, Connecticut, is and always will be my home at heart. I grew up here. I spent my entire childhood and young adult life here. I know this town like no other, especially growing up in the time where kids used their bikes to get everywhere. But as much as I love this little town, so many things have changed about it. Many of the smaller local businesses are no more. Construction is underway on a large supermarket. And many of the people I once knew have moved on. It is simply the way of life. We have covered the abandoned Marlborough Commons shopping center in the past. But several years later, it has taken a grim turn for the worse.

 A mere stone’s throw from the now hustling and bustling center of town lies the now abandoned Marlborough Commons. I can’t tell you exactly what year it officially went under, but I do know that this place never quite picked up traction as a local business. Maybe it was their location, sitting pretty right off the entrance/exit ramp from Route 2. From what I remember, it was always a two-floor business complex with the restaurant a bit further down the lot. Many different establishments came and went from here, none sticking around for too long. The complex limped on as long as it could, and has now sat empty and deserted for almost ten long years.

On a beautiful summer day in 2017, we decided to pay the Marlborough Commons a visit. Though it is still listed as FOR SALE, we did not encounter a single NO TRESPASSING, KEEP OUT, or PRIVATE PROPERTY sign anywhere on the property. Since the almost three years since our last visit, the Commons has certainly entered a downward spiral. The once minimal vandalism has run rampant at this former shopping center. Windows have been smashed. Doors have been boarded up. Graffiti stains the old brick walls. Farther down the lot, the old cafe is slowly being engulfed by the wild and hungry vegetation.  Nature, much like the vandals, has struck back in a big way.

They say the older we get, the more things we have to leave behind. That’s life. And as my old hometown grows and grows, places like the Marlborough Commons seemingly get left behind. Most of the old businesses I grew up with are now gone. It is sad to see what was once a cornerstone of our local community now sitting in a state of such disrepair. But like I said, a big FOR SALE sign sits out front. The Marlborough Commons is not beyond salvageable yet. I hope to see her rise again someday, stranger things have happened. And if I’ve learned anything growing up in this lovable little community, it’s that you can never count the town of Marlborough out.

Top 5 Abandoned Places that Aren’t There Anymore

Posted: February 22, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Fairgrounds, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned mill, abandoned new england, abandoned paper mill, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Cabin, Children's Hospital, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, East Haddam Connecticut, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Meriden CT, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, paper mill, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Sunrise Resort, Talcottville Mill, Uncategorized, Undercliff Sanatorium, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex
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Top 5 Abandoned Places that Aren’t There Anymore

Guess what? It’s still winter, and there’s still a ton of snow on the ground. It’s hindered us from several planned urban exploration journeys this month. But we really like to keep getting things out there for our followers to read. We really do appreciate your support. Since the last few Top 5 Lists we’ve published lately have gotten some decent views, let’s keep this going. Parting is such sweet sorrow, and there are several abandoned places we’ve covered here on our site that regrettably have been demolished since we’ve visited them. Here are the Top 5 Abandoned Places that Aren’t There Anymore.

#5 – The Green House, Andover, Connecticut

The Green House was an absolute chill in the bone to visit. We had been covering abandoned places for several years at this point. But for some reason, this abandoned house was really disturbing to me. Literally everything had been left behind. Toys. Clothes. Furniture. Workout equipment. Hell, there was even still food in the fridge. It was like whoever lived here had just disappeared one day. But recently, the entire house has been refinished. All the trash has been cleaned out. The siding has been replaced. It looks like a brand new house. She is either currently for sale, or already been sold. While she was once a terribly haunting specter of her former self, her story actually got a happy ending.

#4 – Norton Paper Mill, Colchester, Connecticut

I grew up right down the street from this place. I used to drive by it all the time on my way to the coast. After a raging fire had left this place totally gutted, she simply stood there for many years as a ghostly skeleton. The entire place was fenced off, but you could still see the remnants of what this place used to be. In the last few months, the property has been reacquired by the town of Colchester, and been scheduled for demolition. The damn that was once the life source of the mill has already been removed, and what still stands of her bare remains is next on the chopping block. But it is all done in the name of the environment. With the damn removed, fish can now swim up the river. And with the old mill gone, she can finally rest in piece.

#3 – Talcottville Mill, Vernon, Connecticut

Back in 2015, we named this place the #1 abandoned place we had visited that year. It earned that honor for a reason, as this place was huge and captivating. There was so much to see here, with massive amounts of space simply left behind. But today, that is no more. Shortly after our visit to the historic Talcottville Mill, funding was approved by the local government to redevelop the area into apartment complexes. The work got underway shortly after that, and continues as we speak. The property has stood for almost 150 years, and after being abandoned for some time, is finally getting a makeover. After sitting silently for far too long, the historic Talcottville Mill will finally be working to serve the local community once again.

#2 – Undercliff Sanatorium, Meriden, Connecticut

To date, this is still my favorite abandoned place that I have ever explored. And though she is now long gone, she will always hold a special place in my heart. Even after all these years she still remains such a mystery. Once heralded as one of the most haunted places in all of Connecticut, Undercliff Sanatorium had quite the story. Serving for years as a state hospital and institution, the main hospital was closed in the 1970’s. Though the rest of the grounds remained operational. For years, she was a major target for urban explorers and ghost hunters. Many legends and stories abounded about this place. And I can tell you from experience, it more than lived up to its reputation. Sadly, the main hospital was razed beginning in 2013. Though we have yet to make a return trip, I am sure that the ghosts of Undercliff still haunt these wooded grounds.

#1 – Sunrise Resort, East Haddam, Connecticut

Of course it was going to be this. It’s no secret that this was our first exploration. We even did a three part piece on it a few years ago. And anyone who was around to explore this place before it was demolished should know why this place has earned the top stop. Sunrise Resort was functional and flourishing for years. I even went there once a kid for a class picnic. Returning to it years later after its closure was breathtaking. Windows were smashed. Copper wiring was ripped from the walls. The massive in-ground pool had been drained. The baseball field had grown wild and dangerous. It was an apocalyptic ghost town. The scariest part of all? It was all legal to visit, due to its status as a state park. But sadly, that was her undoing as certain state officials pushed hard for her demolition. And it was all for the best. Today, Sunrise State Park can now be enjoyed by all. And if you look close enough, you can still see the shadows of the former resort.

And that’s our list! Know of any other great abandoned places that aren’t there anymore? Please leave us a comment! We look forward to hopefully getting some new material out here soon!

Alone, Not Lonely

The Abandoned Pawtucket/Central Falls Train Station

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Sean L.

What does it mean to be lonely? It is a feeling we have all felt at least once in our lives. To some of us, it is feeling we know all to well. But there is a big difference between being alone, and being lonely. Some find solace in it. Others find only fear and despair. Have you ever looked around in a crowd and saw that one person sitting by themselves? They usually pull their phone out of their pocket and mindlessly pretend to be texting someone or calling someone, making sure everyone around them can see. It is like being alone scares them. It is like doing this makes them feel better. For the first time ever, I did this investigation all on my own. I had an audition in Rhode Island (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4649390/), and Amanda was working. It was quite different flying solo, and it really wasn’t the same. I made the hour and a half journey all by myself, not knowing full well what lay ahead of me. In order to make the trip feel more worth while, I stopped by a place I had always had my eye on: The Pawtucket/Central Falls Train Station.

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The historic cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, Rhode Island, share a border. Both sit just outside of the capital, Providence, and are in close proximity to the Massachusetts state line. Things like this, or even fate perhaps, made them a crossroads for trade. In the early days, both cities had their own personal train stations. But in 1916, this was consolidated to one station which would share the name and interests of both cities. For years she saw hundreds of trains and passengers pass through her doors. But it was not long before she, much like several railroads we’ve covered in the past, began to fall into despair. By 1960, the station had been closed for good after being in such bad shape. Today, she still barely stands. There are currently plans to revive the station and/or rebuild it. The local government is currently planning on using grant money, and hopefully federal funding to bring the old station back to life. But until that days comes, this sad former crossroads now sits abandoned.

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My trip to the former train station was a sad one. It was a bright sunny day, but things just didn’t feel right around here. She sits all alone in the middle of a busy intersection, and looks to still be barely standing anymore. The years have clearly not been too kind to her. All around, the hustle and bustle of the local community continues about its comings and goings. Most don’t pay it any attention at all. I saw a few homeless people snooping around, and a few other characters sitting on the guardrails for their smoke breaks. The place is huge, and well fortified. Or so it would seem. Fences cover the main gate, which is still in pretty good shape. But across the bridge to the other side, the fences have been completely torn down. And a few doors now stand completely wide open to the world. Inside, she seems very structurally unsound and unsafe. Graffiti coats the outside and inside walls. All sorts of junk lies littered about the grounds. And this former train station evokes nothing but a strong feeling of dread.

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Like I said before, there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. To be lonely is to be sad because you’re alone, and to long for companionship. I didn’t see that here. The Pawtucket/Central Falls train station may look grim now, but there may yet be hope for it. Things could turn around if the money is found. But we’ll see. There is a strong feeling amongst the grounds that this old workhorse doesn’t want any visitors, that she just wants to be left in her solitude. Maybe she wants to simply continue her slow descent into destruction. Maybe this is all the future holds for her. She’s seen too much; from her glorious heyday to her dark current state. And the towns around her don’t seem to want much to do with her either. They all seem to have forgotten about this former station. She was once a cornerstone of the New England railroad system. Travelers from all over the country and local community passed through her ornate gates. She now sits all alone, but not lonely.

Finish Your Popcorn – The Abandoned Willimantic Movieplex

Posted: October 27, 2016 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Mansfield, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Showcase Cinema, Stories, Theater, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Williamtic, writing
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Finish Your Popcorn

The Abandoned Willimantic Movieplex

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Cinema should make you forget that you are sitting in a theater.” -Roman Polanski

We have known the bustling town of Willimantic for many years now. When we were both in college, the town was like a second home to us. We did four years of university here; going to classes by day and enjoying the festivities of the town by night. Willimantic has always been a place full of life and light. It features an old school main street, many thriving businesses, and a rich local culture. Notable landmarks such as the Frog Bridge, Eastern Connecticut State University, and the Willimantic Brewing Company make it a surefire place to visit. But there is one place here that sticks out from the vibrant town around it. And that is the now defunct Willimantic Movieplex. Though it was once a staple of the local community, it is now an eyesore and a shadow of its former self. Today, it is simply used as a municipal parking lot for the local businesses. Sitting on a prime piece of real estate, the abandoned Willimantic Movieplex has had quite a history. But regrettably, its past is much more rich than its future.

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The Willimantic Movieplex was first opened during the heyday of the local community. Located right at the cross roads of both the historic Main Street and the nearby Route 66, the theater was in a prime position in downtown Willimantic. With no other movie theaters in the general area, it was very successful during its initial run. But as we all know, times change. And the movie industry is about as predictable as the weather. During the late 90’s/early 2000’s, attendance began to wane. Competition also sprouted up a few miles away with the new Mansfield Movieplex. Over the next few years, the ownership of the theater bounced back and forth like a game of hot potato. It closed and re-opened several times during this period, as multiple different owners tried to save the failing theater. Its final owners made a few minor renovations during 2004 in an attempt to recapture business. But it was never enough. The Willimantic Movieplex closed its doors for good in 2006. It has remained abandoned ever since.

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I honestly wish I could tell you there was more to see here. But sadly, there isn’t. Due to increasingly bad vandal activity and a large local homeless population, the doors to this place were completely sealed off. A large barrier blocks the front, which once featured two doorways and a small ticket window. Around the sides of the theater, all six of the emergency exit doors have been bolted shut. The paint on the walls is pealing off in droves. Vicious and nasty graffiti coats the exteriors. Discarded clothing, shopping carts, and other various pieces of trash are strewn about the ground. The once well groomed weeds and grass now grow wild and restless. But the theater itself sits quietly, waiting for the next entrepreneur to open her doors again and try to bring it back it life. But sadly, as each days passes, that seems to be less and less likely of ever happening. For the Willimantic Movieplex, it seems that the show is over. The tickets were purchased. The crowds filed in. The previews have played. And the movie has now ended. Roll credits. Finish your popcorn.

Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” – Jean-Luc Godard

Places to Visit this Summer – Seaside Sanatorium

Posted: July 21, 2016 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Cabin, Cape Cod, Children, Children's Hospital, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, House, Information, left behind, Mystery, nature, new england, Ocean, Ocean View, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, Seaside Sanatorium, State Parks, Stories, Urban Exploration
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Please check out our new video on the abandoned Seaside Sanatorium! If you are going to visit one abandoned place this summer, put Seaside Sanatorium on your list.

Went Not Away

The Abandoned Wonders of Voluntown

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Past a few dead end roads and down a lost highway is Voluntown, Connecticut. We’ve traveled through this old town many times, mostly passing through on our way to Rhode Island. It has always been a fascinating place to me. I have fond memories of camping here when I was a child. I also had my high school graduation party here, at a friend’s beach house on the nearby lake. It is a sleepy little town, with a very old school New England feel to it. But much like most older communities of Connecticut, Voluntown has had it’s share of tragedy and despair.

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The town of Voluntown was first established in year 1721. It stands at the very eastern edge of Connecticut in New London County, sharing a border with the neighboring state of Rhode Island. Interestingly enough, infamous Revolutionary War traitor Benedict Arnold once owned land here in his early days. It is primarily a farming community today, with dairy and tree farms being a key source of income. According to their town website, over two thirds of the town’s landmass is made up of state forest property. The main road to cut straight through the town en route to Rhode Island is Route 138. It is along this road that we discovered a few abandoned of Voluntown.

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The mystery starts a few miles down the road. At the intersection of Route 201 and 138, an old sign can be seen sticking out the vegetation on the side of the road. Upon further investigation, this beat up old advertises the “Voluntown Package Store – Old Fashioned Service.” A short drive later, we found said package store. And sadly enough, it is in just as poor shape as its old sign. Everything has been folded up and left to rot. Even the antique gas pumps still stand outside the abandoned station. Just a stone’s throw across the street lies some sort of abandoned warehouse with a junk yard out back. We were not able to get too close after coming face to face with a large guard dog, so clearly someone still watches over the property.

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During King Phillip’s War, one of the first major armed conflicts in North America, a group of settlers volunteered to stand and fight. Historically, it is said they “went not away.” These are the men that Voluntown is named after.

And for good reason.

Remember the Magic

Journey into the Enchanted Forest

Written by: Sean L.
Photographs by: Amanda H.

Do you feel that? The wind through the trees? The current through the mountain streams? The rays of sunshine peeping through the dark clouds? It’s something that we don’t appreciate enough anymore. They are, dare I say, magic. Our ancestors lived and died with these elemental beings. But magic is something that disappears a little more each day. We’ve forgotten about it. It can be argued that we don’t need it anymore, that it has outlived its purpose. People walk around lost in the screens of their cell phones as opposed to appreciating the natural beauty of our own world. Even as it slowly shrinks from the corners of our universe. But what happens when there’s no more magic? What happens when all that makes the world wondrous and green is gone? What would the world be like without magic? We found out: in the Enchanted Forest.

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It is one of the darker and more ominous places we have ever visited. The Enchanted Forest was a fantasy styled amusement park that opened in 1971. Based out of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, The Enchanted Forest was always more oriented towards children and families with its fairy tale style theme. The main attractions of the park included a live petting zoo, go-cart tracks, a mini-golf course, and a few rides geared more towards its younger audience. For years the park was a mainstay attraction of the local area, with people coming far and wide to visit this fairy tale place. But as time wore on, the magic began to fade. In her final years, attendance and interest in the park began to wane. Finally, in the year 2005, The Enchanted Forest closed forever under financial strain. Though technically still for sale, the park has been left abandoned ever since.

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We made the long journey to The Enchanted Forest on a sunny day during the tail end of winter 2016. She’s not too difficult to find, the only problem is that what’s left of the park sits along a heavily trafficked road. There old parking lot has also been blocked off by large bricks of cement. And to top it all off, the neighbors of this old park do not take kindly to strangers and have no hesitation when it comes to reporting trespassers to the local police. We had heard many stories in our travels of explorers being caught and arrested for trying to sneak into this place. Getting inside is not the difficult part. Slipping inside the park without being noticed and where to park your car are the difficult parts. But, through some strange form of luck, we managed to get inside this former wonderland.

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Regrettably, there isn’t too much to see here. The old rides that once were the star attractions of The Enchanted Forest were sold off to neighboring theme parks long ago. But the large sign still sits out front, bearing a few scars from the elements and the local vandals. Buried in the brush behind the parking lot are the remains of the old petting zoo and mini golf course. Even deeper into the woods is all that is left of the old go-cart track. A couple of old buildings are still standing, though they are clearly very heavily used by the local teenagers. Mountains of trash and liter coat the ground, and the walls have all been defaced by cruel and unusual graffiti. There may have been more left behind here, but it has long since been lost to the think brush and unflinching grasp of the woods.

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If you ever plan on visiting The Enchanted Forest, do not take this journey lightly. It is a dangerous and risky mission, unless of course you know someone in the area. It is a remarkable sight, indeed. Besides the fact it is a local legend, there is just something about this place. Dare I say, enchanting? Or perhaps the better word is magical. You see, whether we acknowledge it or not, there is still magic in this world. And it can be felt strongly here in The Enchanted Forest. You can almost still hear the laughter of the children and families who once frolicked down these old paths. You can almost still see the colorful rides and attractions swirling through the trees. You can almost still feel all of the love and joy that this place must have felt all of those years ago. Though all of that is gone, the magic is still here. You just have to look for it.

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