Archive for the ‘Mansfield’ Category

Up Horsebarn Hill

The Abandoned UCONN Ski Slope

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

We’ve taken a walk up Horsebarn Hill several times in the past. It’s beautiful out there. It is a much needed touch of farm life a mere stone’s throw away from a hustling and bustling city. Going to school close by, and having many friends up on the campus, the University of Connecticut is a place that I am all too familiar with. But what’s special about this campus is no matter how much you think you know about it, it can still surprise you. We have covered the abandoned corners of UCONN in the past, such as the Depot Campus. And we had heard rumors about the old ski slope for a long time. But now, after all this waiting, we finally went looking for it.

Opening in the 1960’s, the UCONN Ski Slope was at first a booming attraction. Open to both the public and the student body, it was one of many smaller skiing areas to pop up in the area as the sport began to reach its popularity. Sadly, though, most of these smaller ski areas did not survive for long. It was a single slope attraction, featuring a rope tow system to the top of the hill and a few smaller buildings to boot. The UCONN Ski Slope eventually faced its closure a mere ten years later due to budgetary restrictions and a changing climate. It is now a piece of history lost to the wilderness, and something that the campus seems to want to forget.

It was a beautiful Saturday in the waning days of Spring 2017 . We made the trek through the woods and onto Horsebarn Hill, but found only the skeletal remains of the UCONN Ski Slope. Any and all buildings have been lost to the heavy hands of time. The ghostly rope tow system still leads straight to the top of the hill, though her path is now only used by the local deer and coyotes (which we encountered both of on our trip). A few old rusted pieces of metal lie amongst the underbrush. And the main hub of the rope system still stands at the bottom of the hill…barely. Still, it is a very nice hike through what may be the quietest corner of the UCONN campus.

If you’re up for an adventure, take a walk up Horsebarn Hill sometime. You never know what you’ll come across.

The Bridge of Death

The Abandoned Willimantic River Railway

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

“He who approaches the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, heir the other side he see.” Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

I love this quote. I always have. My friends and I used to quote this and all the other great lines from the immortal British classic all the time. Hell, I still quote it every once in awhile. It may sound a little extreme for this piece, but there has never been a structure we’ve come across that is more menacing than the abandoned bridge that was once the lifeline of the Willimantic River Railway. We’ve crossed it once before, and it was quite an exhilarating experience. Until our way back across it when the old structure began to creak. That is not a sound you ever want to hear when you’re standing fifty feet in the air over the running waters of the Willimantic River. Heart-stopping as it was, we did make it back safely.  It is an experience that I shall never forget. Though it may have been a bit scary, it was a nice thrill ride to conquer the bridge. Since then, we unofficially christened the old bridge with the quotable nickname. That was over two years ago. So in the early days of spring 2017, we decided to return to the Bridge of Death.

 The official entrance to the Willimantic River can be found on Columbia Avenue. Sitting right before the Columbia/Windham town line, the area is technically a part of the Hop River State Park Trail. Commonly used for biking and hiking, the trail begins here and extends all the way to the Vernon town line. It is describes as a perfect two mile ride or walk for your average outdoorsmen, but it wasn’t always this way. In the mid 1990’s, the town of Willimantic was a hotspot for railways and train yards. One of the older and more prominent lines ran across the picturesque Willimantic River. However, a fierce rainy season during the summer of 1955 caused major flooding in the area. The flooding permanently crippled some of the bridges on the Willimantic River line, causing it to be decommissioned shortly after. Following its closure, the land was converted into a recreational area. The former railway bed was removed and covered with gravel, making the paths perfect for bikers. It is now managed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Energy and Protection, and maintained by local volunteers and organizations. However, not everything was removed from this former railway line.

Returning to the abandoned Willimantic River Railway was quite different than our first visit. The multiple tent cities had been completely cleared out. A few pieces of junk were still left behind, most notably some beat up bedroom furniture and a deck of playing cards. But the bridge itself still proudly stands…barely. Though she may look just as sardonically beautiful as she once was, we chose not to cross it this time. The old wooden supports for this former workhorse have taken a turn for the worse. And though the water was exceptionally high that day, it was still not worth the risk of crossing it again. Adventurer’s beware. Around the bridge, a lot of old track is still standing. Farther down the line, a couple chunks of old machinery can still be found. Even without crossing the bridge, it is still truly a sight to marvel at. It is a relic of the past, and a testament of fortitude to its original crafters. And while the world around her continues to change at a whirlwind pace, the Bridge of Death is still standing.

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
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Destroy or Decay – The Abandoned Mansfield Training School

Posted: October 13, 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 Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Birds, Broken, Children, Children's Hospital, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, House, Information, left behind, lost, Mansfield, Mansfield Training School, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Seaside Sanatorium, Stories, Storrs, Sunrise Resort, UCONN, Uncategorized, Undercliff Sanatorium, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Destroy or Decay

The Abandoned Mansfield Training School

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Decay, it’s a bit of a fickle word. Just the mention of it conjures up unsettling images of rot and decomposition. Destroy, do I really have to define this one? It’s a word we all know and maybe even use too much. But which is worse, to destroy or to decay? It is a question that many of our great abandoned wonders have faced over the years. Many local legends such as Sunrise Resort and Undercliff Sanatorium have been demolished. But others, such as the abandoned Mansfield Training School, have faced decay. Rather than being demolished it has merely been left to rot. Sure, certain precautions have been taken to shore up the property. But let’s be honest, we’re simply delaying the inevitable. Though many tall fences have gone up since our last visit, Mansfield Training School is continuing its slow decent into destruction.

_mg_4990

The facility was created following the merger of the institutions in both Lakeville and Mansfield, Connecticut during 1917. It was christened the Mansfield Training School and Hospital, a facility for the care of the intellectually disabled. They started off with a relatively small number of patients. Major events in history such as the Great Depression and World War II caused the population of patients to grow and become overcrowded. But during the sixties and seventies, regulations began to change, resulting in more staff and caregivers being provided. Some years later, patients began to be moved from the hospital to on-site cottages and group homes. Regrettably, while there were many stories of good and fair treatment of the patients, there were also several tragic ones. Under a pile of lawsuits, the facility was forced to close its doors in 1993. The property was then split amongst the University of Connecticut and the neighboring Bergin Correctional Institute.

In the waning days of Summer 2016 began to slowly fall off the calendar, like leaves from a tree, we made our return to the abandoned Mansfield Training School. Some places are just worth a second or even a third visit. And this is certainly one of them. Sitting on the far side of the Depot Campus of the University of Connecticut, the abandoned Mansfield Training School was as quiet as I remembered it. Just a short stroll from the hustle and bustle of the main campus, it is shocking how desolate this corner of the school feels. We did not come across a single soul on our walk through the former hospital quad. Just like our previous visit. The whole place felt like something out of a nightmare. Even though it lies in such close proximity to one of the largest and well known schools in the country, this place was as quiet as a tomb. The only signs of life were the scurrying families of squirrels darting for cover as we strolled through this abandoned wasteland.

While the atmosphere of the abandoned Mansfield Training School may not have changed at all since our last visit, the grounds themselves have taken a rather serious toll. Chain link fences have been installed around the infamous Knight Hospital and a few of the farther south buildings. The tunnels systems have all been dug up or filled in. But even worse, vandalism has taken a massive rise in the past year. Doors have been kicked open. Windows have been smashed. Access to these dark and dangerous places is as easy as it has ever been. And inside these former hospital buildings is like the edge of Hell. Around each corner lies more chaos and destruction. Though it is as quiet as death in here, the pain and the anguish that this place feels cannot be ignored. We’ve seen a few spooky things happen here, such as the fabled “Angel of the Asylum,” but today this place felt more haunted than ever. The Saint Mary Statue had been moved. Shadows crept in the corners of every room. And there was a strong presence to be felt.

And so I ask again, is it better to destroy or to decay? Over the years, there allegedly have been many different proposals to demolish these infamous grounds. But none have come to fruition. With the recent additions of the chain link fences, clearly someone wants to preserve this place. It is, in fact, listed as a Historical Landmark. But one would not likely be able to guess that after one look at the state of the Mansfield Training School. It has fallen quite a long way in just twenty odd years since its closure, mostly at the hands of vandals. To destroy it would cost the state millions of dollars, and be the end of a once beloved landmark. But to leave it to decay would be the same result, except for the number of years it would take to get there. Neither of them seem like good options, and seems that some have chosen to forget about the abandoned Mansfield Training School. But its still there. Everyday. Wondering. Waiting. Destroy or Decay? Destroy or Decay? Destroy or Decay?

_mg_4947

Angel of the Asylum – The Mystery of Saint Mary

Posted: September 1, 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 Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Children's Hospital, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Mansfield, Mansfield Training School, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Seaside Sanatorium, Stories, Storrs, time, UCONN, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Angel of the Asylum

The Mystery of Saint Mary

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

I honestly never thought I would be quoting the Bible on this blog. I am not a religious person, and frankly this is not a religious piece. It is just a story about something weird we encountered in our travels. Over the years, we have seen and experienced many strange things exploring abandoned places. Things like whispers in the dark, unsettling feelings, and random waves of energy have all come to pass. But this was one of the more special cases. It happened on a late summer afternoon. It was your typical lazy Sunday, and a day that we had decided to visit our old friend Mansfield Training School. Since we visit Seaside Sanatorium every summer, we thought it might be nice to document this abandoned hospital annually as well. But what we found that day was a bit strange. It could all just be harmless fun, but it was just a little too weird for my taste.

MTS1

Now, we have already done one piece on the abandoned Mansfield Training School. You can find it here on our site if you want to know more. We will also be putting out an entirely separate piece on our return visit in the coming weeks. This piece stands on it’s own. Rather than talking about the history of the abandoned hospital once again, we shall be covering something different; Saint Mary. As the mother of Jesus Christ, Mary is one of the most prominent and well known saints of the entire Christian faith. It is believed that the Virgin Mary bore the son of God, who would go on to die for our sins on the cross. Statues, paintings, and stained glass windows bearing her image can be seen today all over the world. She has also claimed to have been seen and involved in many “miraculous” incidents throughout history, many of which still go unexplained today. And this case is no exception.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On our first visit to the abandoned Mansfield Training School one year prior, we had discovered a ghostly statue of Saint Mary in the basement of one of the buildings on the far east side of the complex. On this day, we found the exact same statue standing at the gates to a different building on the far west side. She had been moved. Whereas once she stood guard below ground, she was now warding off any intruders from entering this new building. And we did double check old photos and the building we first found her in: it is indeed the same statue. Odds are, some college kids from the neighboring UCONN moved her as a prank. But still, maybe something else was at work here. The grounds are known as paranormal hot spots, and hauntings are said to be a regular occurrence here. Is this just some silly prank? Or is there something more supernatural at work here?

Perhaps it’s all just a coincidence. But then again, perhaps it isn’t.

Knightfall
The Haunting Legend of the Mansfield Training School

Written by: Sean L.

Photos by: Amanda H.

UConn, home of the Huskies. Their athletic program has won 21 NCAA championships, most notably for basketball. They have the largest public research collection in the state, housed in one of the largest libraries in New England. There are over twenty five thousand students enrolled in its programs, and close to ten thousand employees alongside them. It is UConn, home of Connecticut pride. But is the University of Connecticut haunted? A place such as this cannot become one of the oldest universities in the country without having a few secrets. In a forgotten corner of the darkest side of campus, there lies a quiet pocket where the shadows run wild. In its heyday, it was known as the Mansfield Training School and Hospital. Though it is officially listed in the National Register of Historic Place, this former institution is now nothing but a tomb. Concealed deep within its walls lurks the pain and suffering of its dark past. MTS1

The facility was created following the merger of the institutions in both Lakeville and Mansfield, Connecticut during 1917. It was christened the Mansfield Training School and Hospital, a facility for the care of the intellectually disabled. They started off with a relatively small number of patients. Major events in history such as the Great Depression and World War II caused the population of patients to grow and become overcrowded. But during the sixties and seventies, regulations began to change, resulting in more staff and caregivers being provided. Some years later, patients began to be moved from the hospital to on-site cottages and group homes. Regrettably, while there were many stories of good and fair treatment of the patients, there were also several tragic ones. Under a pile of lawsuits, the facility was forced to close its doors in 1993. The property was then split amongst the University of Connecticut and the neighboring Bergin Correctional Institute.

What remains of the Mansfield Training School and Hospital can be found on UConn’s lesser known Depot Campus, at the crossroads of CT Route 32 and US Route 44 in Storrs, Connecticut. Compared to the main campus, it is strangely quiet on this side of town. The neighboring Bergin Correctional Institute has lain dormant since its closing several years ago. There are multiple buildings still standing on the old grounds. A few were demolished after the sale, but most still stand. There is an old tunnel system that runs between the buildings that were used to shuttle patients around during inclement weather. However most of these tunnels have been filled in or blocked off. Almost all of the buildings have had their doors and windows welded shut. Others even have their roofs completely caved in. And from the looks of things, this place has had a pretty serious vandal problem for some time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Standing as the face of Mansfield Training School is the Knight Hospital. With its classical Greek and Victorian architecture, it is undoubtedly the most picturesque building on site. But it is sadly a shadow of its former self. While it served as the main building when the grounds were in operation, it is now in deplorable shape. The engraved name above the doorway and the tall stone pillars supporting it have all but succumbed to the wild vegetation growing around them. Windows on all floors have been smashed. Trash and graffiti lie strewn about the floor. And even a family of squirrels appears to have made their home inside this abandoned facility. However, it is absolutely remarkable how much stuff seemed to have been left behind when the facility closed twenty years ago. Old patient files, hospital equipment, and other office supplies can still be found littered across the halls. We even found a ghostly old statue staring back at us in the basement of one of the buildings.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were allegedly several deaths at the facility while it was in operation; however we have been unable to find any evidence to support or disprove this claim. Stories such as this have given Mansfield Training School a reputation of being haunted. The show Paranormal Witness did an investigation on the grounds back in 2011, bringing about mixed results. It has since become a major hotspot for amateur ghost hunters and thrill seekers. Haunted or not, the facility is most definitely haunting. The echoes of the past still linger amongst the now abandoned halls. There is definitely a presence to be felt here. Though its patients are long gone, something still lurks within these walls. Something just doesn’t feel right when walking along the old grounds. It is near deathly silent, which is hard to believe on a campus of thousands. So, is the University of Connecticut haunted? We don’t know. I guess the better question you should be asking yourself is…do you believe in ghosts?

MTS 9