Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

Who Goes There?

The Abandoned Union Pond Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Abandoned places can be very fickle things. Some are cast aside, left to rot on their own. The world quickly forgets about them and wants nothing to do with them. Others lie dormant for years, but eventually find their resurgence. Old mills are converted to apartment buildings. Failed businesses are resurrected with new ideas. Colossal historical landmarks become preserved ruins and tourist attractions. But there is sometimes a darker side to all of this. Some abandoned places become black holes when they are cast out into the cold. Having failed at their calling purpose, they eventually turn into something ugly. And that is what we have here today. It was once a thriving staple of the local community, wearing many different hats over the years. Now, it is nothing more than a dark and twisted reflection of its former self. This, among other things, are what make this place so unique. And while so many people know about it, very few seem to know how it got this way.

I have yet to really find a concrete name for this mysterious place. I’m just calling it Union Pond Mill because of it’s proximity to Union Pond. But everyone in Manchester knows about it. The mill was first built in the early 1900’s, working with both wool and paper. Located alongside the Hockanum River, the mill was at an ideal crossroads in the town of Manchester. It was unfortunately forced to close down around the turn of the century after polluting the nearby Union Pond. After this, the facility was purchased by the Boticelo Corporation, and started a new life as a recycling center. This, sadly, also wasn’t meant to be. After a few short years, the Union Mill was forced to close its doors once again. This time for good. The ground are allegedly now owned by CL&P, and supposed to be still up for sale. I talked to some people who said they once used the abandoned mill as a makeshift skate park. Many others steer clear of this place due to the number of unsavory characters said to stalk the halls at night.

Finding the abandoned Union Pond Mill isn’t too difficult. As I said, it is right smack along the side of a very busy intersection in Manchester. If you know where to look, you will find it very easily. We had talked about investigating this place for a long while now. We had just never found the time to go take a look around. Having lived in Manchester, we had driven past it many times. Sometimes it looked like it was being demolished. Sometimes it didn’t. But one summer afternoon, we decided to go looking for it. After taking a short walk through the woods, we came upon the abandoned mill. There was not a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign on our way in. And once you arrive at the abandoned property, everything seems to just fall silent. There were no birds singing. The summer bugs all seemed to disappear. And even though a busy road was right through the trees, the mill was quiet as a tomb when we arrived. That said, it didn’t take long for us to get the feeling that we were being watched.

There is plenty of old equipment, broken bottles, and discarded trash littering the wasteland. Colorful and kooky graffiti coats the rafters. Many old fire pits have stained sections of the cement floor pitch black. Vines and vegetation grow from any facet of building they can reach. But other than the liter, the warehouses are shockingly devoid. It was a breezy summer day. And each little burst of wind caused the very foundation of this place to tremble. There were times walking around the abandoned mill that I thought it was going to collapse at any second. You can still get upstairs in a few places. Just watch your step, as everything in here feels incredibly precarious. Plus we found evidence of somebody living up there. Some demolition has obviously been done. The main chimney has endured a lot of vandalism, but still stands silently tall at the front. Clearly someone is checking up on this place, as there are many paths through the undergrowth that guide you from section to section of the mill.

As we began to head out from the mill, I saw the shadow of a person from the other side of the main wall. It followed us as we began to move out. They were not chasing us. Just slowly trailing a few steps behind us. No noise was made. The shadow just moved through the outside underbrush after us. This was honestly one of the very few times I’ve felt genuinely nervous while out exploring. I am not ashamed to admit that. Whoever it was stopped pursuing us once we cleared the main gate. From the moment we arrived, I knew someone…or something was watching us. It is a feeling you just can’t shake. This place has quite the reputation for being a haven of the outcasts. And as we learned that day, this reputation is justly deserved. It was probably just a homeless individual keeping watch over their spot. But still. You can never be too careful, especially in a place like this. The sounds of work and jobs are gone from here, now. Only mystery remains.

Secret Weapons – The Abandoned Cohasset Naval Annex

Posted: April 24, 2019 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Boston, Abandoned Castle, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Park, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned Tower, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Closed, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, photography, Public Parks, Ruins, Safety First, State Parks, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Secret Weapons

The Abandoned Cohasset Naval Annex

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

War. War never changes. That one was for all you Fallout fans. We’ve covered so many different types of abandoned military bases over the years. From old missile sites, to coastal fortresses, to housing facilities, we’ve seen pretty much everything the New England area has to offer. It honestly takes a lot to surprise us these days. Each one of these places is so very unique, yet so eerily similar at the same time. Today’s subject is a little bit different from the others, though. Once again, it’s one that we’ve had our eye on for a long time. And unfortunately, some of the cooler aspects of this place have been demolished over the years. But given how far away from us it was, we just never seemed to have the time to make the journey. That all changed this past Spring. We had business up in Boston. Rather than staying in the city, which we found to be outrageously expensive, we ended up staying in one of Beantown’s nearby suburbs. On our way up, of course, we got to stop at this little hidden gem.

Might I introduce the former Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot Annex. Say that five times fast. It’s such a beast of a name, most people just call it the Cohasset Annex after one of the town’s that it’s located in. During the early days of World War II, the area was purchased by the United States Navy to serve as a weapons depot and storage facility. It quickly became a staple of the local community, employing hundreds of workers and stationing many servicemen. The base served her purpose throughout the war as the main supplier of the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. She then closed down for a time following the surrender of Germany and Japan. But once the United States entered the Korean War several years later, the base was once again called into action. Unlike many other sites we’ve covered, the Cohasset Annex did not serve through the Cold War. As she was decommissioned in 1962. The land was then returned to the State of Massachusetts, and re purposed into the Wompatuck State Park.

Like so many of her fellow abandoned military bases, the Cohasset Annex is completely legal to visit and sits in the middle of a large state park. However, all of her old bunkers have either been filled in, demolished, or locked up after a series of alleged murders several years ago. We could only find one that was still standing, having been preserved by the local Boy Scout Troop. There is still plenty to see here, though. A short walk down one of the quieter trails leads you straight into the heart of the old base. Derelict fences and telephone polls still decorate the sides of the path. Large mounds of dirt where the old bunkers used to be rise up from the Earth. But most curiously are the wooden frames at the far end of the park. There are at least half a dozen of the massive wooden enclosures. Some have rotted into oblivion. Others are still standing quite strong. Given this area was the site of the missile launch pad, we are guessing that they all have something to do with that.

At the entrance to the launch pad trail stands what we have come to call “The Gatekeeper.” Her picture is above…Creepy, right? Almost all of the old military ruins are coated with the usual graffiti and such. No surprises there. Aside from the wooden structures, there are also a few buildings left behind here scattered across the vast coastal woodland. Though they are more off the beaten path, all of the buildings have clearly been built to last. They honestly reminded me a lot of Rhode Island’s Fort Wetherill in their construction and look. Far a long forgotten age, they all have a very dated and ghostly image. The elements have not been kind to them, yet none show much wear and tear. And, fortunately enough for you hikers out there, most of these buildings are marked on the map at the park’s Visitor Center. You can get inside all of them, but be sure to bring a flashlight. There is not much to see inside, but it still gets pretty dark. And watch your step.

As stated above, the Cohasset Naval Annex is not quite what it used to be. Many of the features that made this place unique have been lost to the pages of history. And for good reason. I was honestly a bit disappointed to not be able to get into the bunkers anymore. But after learning of their darker history, I completely understand why they had to be destroyed. Though this place may not be as exciting as it once was, it is still a good place to check out if you enjoy a little hiking. The Cohasset Naval Annex was once a proud warrior of World War II. Now, the old base still finds a way to serve her community. Just with a far different purpose. We ran into quite a few other hikers and adventurers on our journey. And yet most, save for the local track team, did not pay much attention to the old military buildings. To some, this place appears to be just another hustling and bustling state park. But even after all these years, the woods still can hold a few secrets.

Winter is Coming

The Abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry

Written by: Cobra

Photographs by: Lassie

Winter is coming. The leaves have fallen from the trees. The temperature has dropped. It started snowing on my ride into the studio this morning, which I was totally not expecting. If you’re not familiar with it, New England’s winter can be unpredictable and unforgiving. One day it will be beautiful, the next it will be brutal. Plus with the chaos of the holiday season fast approaching, things usually slow down for us a bit here at Abandoned Wonders. Winter is just not a great time for exploring. So we decided to get one last big adventure in before the outdoor season comes to an end. And what better place than the abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry?

Located in the nearby Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Quarry Park was a place I had never heard of. Credit to this find actually goes to onlyinyourstate.com, which is an excellent place to find fun hikes and places to visit. They recently included this park in one of their articles,  and being so close to us, we naturally had to go check it out. For years, Rocky Hill Quarry was a large and profitable business. But times change. Following the closure of the quarry in the 1950’s, the land was eventually rechristened as Quarry Park. With an excellent view of the town and a nice two-mile hike, it is well worth a visit. But it is what’s left of the old quarry that make this place interesting.

The first item to greet you on the walk are the ruins of what is identified on the map as a 1936 Buick, which is now only a rusted hunk of metal. Much further down the line, off a side trail, is what we believe is called The Cave. A short, but rather steep, climb up the rock face will bring you to the first real signs of the abandoned quarry. A few pieces of old machinery rot into the earth, but an old tunnel runs into the side of the cliff. Inside is just one large empty room. Though it is clearly frequented by someone given the contents we found inside. And, much like most stops on this trip, everything was coated in colorful graffiti.

A bit farther down the trail are what remains of the old compressor house and machinery. At quick glance, this place looked very much like some old ancient ruins. With its large stone pillars and intricate design, it makes for a very interesting sight. The layers of vibrant graffiti almost breathe new life into these old structures. The compressor house itself is large and open inside, with a big window in the middle of the ceiling. Many of its old items (including a door, mattress, tools, and a lawnmower) lie strewn about outside it. All kinds of old metal and rocks coat the ground, so always watch your step.

If this is the last place we get to visit this season, I will not be disappointed. The abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry is more than worth a look. Despite the cold, it was a really nice hike and we were able to get some excellent photographs. It is a very unique place, reminding me very much of Fort Wetherill in Rhode Island. Here massive stone structures are a relic from another era, that show no signs of breaking down. And the colorful coat of graffiti makes what should be a dreary place into a far more fascinating one. So if you have time, definitely consider visiting this one sometime soon. After all, winter is coming.

Wolves Not Far – The Abandoned Manchester Drive-In

Posted: May 1, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, Abandoned Fairgrounds, abandoned home, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Bolton, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, State Parks, Stories, Theater, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
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Wolves Not Far

The Abandoned Manchester Drive-In

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We’ve had several encounters with homeless people in the past. I think every experienced urban explorer can say the same. We’ve come across empty tent cities. We’ve heard whispers in dark tunnels. And there are some places where you simply cannot shake the feeling that you are being watched. But this place was different. We hadn’t been to the abandoned Manchester Drive-In since the main lot had been cleared of brush. On our last visit, we thought all there was left to see of this place was old screen still looming high in the sky, along with a few old signs and speakers. But we were wrong. We don’t know who cleared it, but the massive amounts of vegetation have been pealed back to reveal what was once thought to be gone. And apparently, it didn’t take long for the lost and weary to claim this new place as their own.

 Opened in the early 1950’s, the Manchester Drive-In was one of many drive-in theaters to pop up in Connecticut during this time period. As opposed to the drive-in theaters of today, Manchester had only one screen. It could hold over five hundred cars per showing. But over the years, the excitement and the wonder of drive-in movie theaters began to wane. Most of the theaters across the state began to steadily close their doors, including the Manchester Drive-In. Unfortunately, the theater went out of business in the early 1980’s where it sat empty and abandoned for almost twenty years. It was finally purchased locally in 2006 to become a park along the Hop River in Bolton, Connecticut. Today, the former drive-in theater that once held over five hundred eager movie goers is now nothing more than a ruin.

When the brush had been cleared, the old snack bar was exhumed from her resting place. We had long thought that it was gone forever, collapsing under the weight of time. It is beckoning to all in search of exploration. But adventurer’s beware. Inside this old snack bar resides people that do not wish to be disturbed. In the guest sign-in for the park, we found some rather menacing messages: “I will f**king kill anyone who goes to the snack bar,” “Beware the Hobo Camp,” and “Wolves Not Far.” This could all be for nothing. But on our approach toward the old snack bar, we heard music coming from the backroom. As we made our way inside, the music suddenly stopped. Something stirred in the shadows. Whispers emerged from the darkness. We clearly were not welcome here, and didn’t stick around to say hello.

When someone does not want to be disturbed, we have always found it best to not disturb them. Especially when we find some rather threatening messages. The abandoned Manchester Drive-In is well worth a visit, and totally legal to do so as part of the state park. It is a very nice hike, and the old screen is always something to marvel at. Just be careful around the snack bar. Someone is clearly living here, and all they want is to be left alone. It is best to oblige them. All I know is that this is a far different place than the one I remembered. The last time we were here, this giant building was so engulfed by plants that it was invisible to passer-byes.  We honestly thought that it had collapsed years ago. But now that the brush has been cleared, the snack bar is once again open, but not for business.

Top 10 Abandoned Places to Go Hiking

Posted: March 20, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned military bases, abandoned mill, abandoned new england, Abandoned Railway, Abandoned train station, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Berkshires, Bolton, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, dreams, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Fortress, Forts, Graveyard, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, nature, new england, Nike Missile Base, overgrown, photography, Portland, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Williamtic, writing
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Top 10 Abandoned Places to Go Hiking

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Hiking is the whole reason we ever got into this. We accidentally stumbled upon the abandoned Sunrise Resort while hiking at a state park in Moodus. The rest is history. When we plot an investigation, it is usually to go explore something like a big abandoned building. But every once in awhile, we come across a place that may not be as exciting as an abandoned asylum but is still a fun place to hike. There may not be too much to see, but its nice to just be outdoors and do some exploring. Here are a few of our favorite abandoned places across New England to go hiking!

#10 – Mount Beacon Railway (Beacon, New York)

This may be this most difficult hike on the list, but it is also the most rewarding. In the absolutely beautiful town of Beacon, New York, lie the ruins of the old mountain railway. In the days long since passed, there was a train which ferried passengers to the top of Mount Beacon during the summer/fall seasons. At the summit was a casino and visitor center. Sadly, a terrible fire destroyed this former tourist attraction. Now you can follow the ghostly ruins of the old railway to the top, where you are rewarded with an absolutely breathtaking view of the Hudson River Valley.

#9 – Cohasset Naval Annex (Hingham, Massachusetts)

Fair warning, there will be a lot of military installations in this piece. Located just east of the city of Boston, this former Naval base was once a cornerstone of the local community. It employed hundreds of locals, and served as a watchdog for the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. But, like many military bases from this timeframe, she eventually outlived her purpose and was converted into a state park. There is still plenty to see here, and a few bunkers are still accessible to the public.

#8 – Gillette Castle Railroad (East Haddam, CT)

Smack dab in the middle of one of the most popular parks in Connecticut lies a place that many have forgotten. Gillette Castle was once of the home of prolific stage actor William Gillette. Following his passing a decade ago, he left the grounds to the State of Connecticut to become a public park. But what many don’t know is that the estate once had its own small railway system. There isn’t too much left to see here, but the old train tunnel is a very cool place to walk through.

#7 – Manchester Drive-In (Manchester, CT)

This is another place that we just accidentally stumbled upon. While driving home from the office, I would see a large skeletal frame looming out of the woods. I thought it was just an old billboard, but upon further exploration we uncovered that it was actually the ruins of the old Manchester Drive-In movie theater. Unfortunately, there is not much to see here. But the old sign still sits out front, and the old screen looms high and daunting in the sky. With good weather, it is a really nice hike.

#6 – Aspinwall Hotel (Lenox, MA)

And once again, this was another place we just found. We were staying up in the Berkshires as I had a big audition up there. We went for a short walk by our hotel, and found the ruins of the Aspinwall Hotel. Once one of the most popular hotels in all of New England, this former hotspot was burned to the ground at the turn of the century. Now only ghostly ruins still stand all over the woods. But the picturesque mountain view and the lovely wooded setting make this one a very cool visit.

#5 – Willimantic River Railway (Willimantic, CT)

This place can be a little spooky. It was once part of the lifeblood of the rail system all along the East Coast. Now, she is nothing more than a shadow of her former self. The local homeless population uses this area from time to time as a makeshift tent community. But they periodically seem to get kicked out. Plus stretching over the untamed Willimantic River still stands the old tressell, aka The Bridge of Death. Crossing it is certainly one thing that we crossed off our bucket list. Watch your step, and don’t look down.

#4 – Shade Swamp Shelter (Farmington, CT)

This is certainly one of the more unique and underrated places that we have ever visited. It really doesn’t get enough attention. Once a wildlife shelter and sanctuary, this historic landmark now sits empty in the middle of the woods just off a very busy road. Along a winding trail, there are dozens of old enclosures, cages, and habitats that once housed the former residents of this shelter. On a nice sunny day, this place is not only great for hiking but is also a treasure trove for all you nature photographers out there.

#3 – Nike Missile Site (Portland, CT)

It may be a gigantic pain in the ass to get to, but its really worth it if you can make the trip. Unpaved roads, untamed wilderness, and a total lack of other people can hinder your journey. But if you can find the lost Nike Missile site deep in the woods, you’re in for a real treat. The two sites are about a mile from each other. One features a few still standing structures. The other still has its tunnel system (which we recommend you stay out of). Of all the places on this list, this one is truly all about exploration.

#2 – Rutland Prison Camp (Rutland, Massachusetts)

This place is consistently one of our most popular articles on this site. Located deep in what is now Rutland State Park, the ruins of this old prison lie off the beaten path. Many years ago, this place served as a county jail for small time offenders. They worked off their sentences doing menial tasks related to farm work. But when complications with the local wetlands arose, the prison was forced to close down. What remains are a few old buildings, a small tunnel system, and a very nice hike in. Check it out sometime.

#1 – Chester-Hudson Quarry (Beckett, Massachusetts)

There are honestly few abandoned places that stick with me as much as this one does. Seriously. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Abandoned in the 1920’s, the Chester-Hudson Quarry was once one of the largest distributors of stone in all of New England. Following her closure, a noble group of conservationists were able to save the land from real-estate developers and preserve it as a public park. The ruins of the quarry are kept in a state of “arrested decay.” This means they are not repaired, but are maintained just enough so they don’t completely fall apart. It is a very nice walk, just watch out for salamanders.

And that’s our list! Got any other places you think are great for hiking? Be sure to let us know! Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe.

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, 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