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The End of the Road – Remembering Sunrise Resort: Part I

Posted: January 27, 2015 by Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Fairgrounds, abandoned home, abandoned new england, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned Stores, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Birds, Broken, Cabin, Children, 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, House, Information, left behind, lost, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Sunrise Resort, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
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The End of the Road

Remembering Sunrise Resort – Part I

Written by: Sean

Photographs by: Amanda

You always remember your first. Whether it be love, sex, friendship, you always remember the first. Because the first will always be special, whether you like it or not. We’ve been doing this for about three years now, and I still remember our first. It was kind of an accident; we just happened to stumble upon one of the greatest abandoned sites in Connecticut while hiking in the woods. It was more than just an abandoned building; it was a small community that had been completely deserted overnight. This is the place that started our journey as urban explorers. What follows is part one of a three part series that will fully cover our three visits to the legendary Sunrise Resort in East Haddam, Connecticut. Part one will cover the discovery of the resort. Part two will cover our investigation. And part three will cover our return to the site after its demolition.

The only way to really tell this story is to start at the beginning. I mean the real beginning. Sunrise Resort was established in the 1930’s by Ted Hilton, a Hartford Taxi Driver. Over its 92 years the resort became Frank Davis Resort then what we know it as now, Sunrise Resort. In its heyday, the resort was known for theme weeks, meals, parties, music, and its excellent family atmosphere. It provided services such as maid service, childcare for those parents who wanted a break, boating/sailing, horseback riding, and children’s programs. They even allowed you to bring along the family pet! The resort provided many forms of housing may it be rustic cottages, motel rooms, apartments, or resort lodging. Sunrise had it all. Just as a fun fact, both Amanda and myself visited the resort while we children. Both of our schools scheduled our end of the year summer picnics here. Unfortunately, we did not take any photos while there.

Over the years Sunrise’s old fashion look and feel began to lose customer’s interest and it slowly began to wither. Near its end customers were found to complain of it being “out-of-date,” musty, and unclean. Sadly, in 2008 Sunrise was closed and sold to the CT Government. At first the government had plans of making it into a newer, updated Campgroup or into a camp for the disabled. This never happened. The Connecticut Government put things off and forgot about Sunrise until it became too late; nothing was left to save. Since then it fell into ruins. It had been vandalized (windows smashed, copper piping ripped out of the walls, items stolen, memories shattered) and nature has moved in to reclaim it. This once beautiful resort was now a ghost town resembling Chernobyl. Everything is left the same as it was as if its happy, smiling patrons simply vanished.

It was a hot summer day in 2012. We were just hanging out. The days of summertime were slowly drawing to close, and we would soon be returning to college. The beach was no fun anymore. We had hiked all of our local parks. And we didn’t have the money to go to the movies. We decided to do something different. It was actually the website damnedct.com that got us into this. We had occasionally surfed that site, looking at all of their cool articles. But most of them were out of date. First, we looked into checking out the Little People’s Village. But further research revealed that this site has been so horribly vandalized, there is nothing left to see. We then thought of checking out Holy Land USA, hearing that it was quite easy to get in. Further research into this revealed that a young girl had tragically been murdered there very recently, and the place was near impenetrable.

With our day slowly ending, we ended up deciding to check out Machimoodus State Park in East Haddam. There were rumors of strange, unearthly noises here so we decided to check it out. We even brought along our Japanese Chin named Tojo. The state park was nice, though we didn’t hear any weird noises. There was an old barn still standing towards the center of the park, but nothing too interesting. That is until we took a dark trail leading into the woods. The farther we got down this trail, the weirder things got. First we found a shoe sitting on an old stump. This shoe had been there so long, moss had completely coated it. We also found a crushed up loud speaker in the dirt. Further down the trail, we found a rusty storage trailer, completely full of old cots. It was completely silent. Then, we saw it.

 At the end of the trail, seated comfortably alongside the banks of the Moodus River, we found an abandoned summer camp. The old dining hall stood before us. It was three floors, with a porch out front. The windows were all shattered, and its outer paint was rapidly fading. The old kitchen equipment had been left out back to rot in the sun. A rickety gazeebo stood out in front of it. Beside that was a tall withered pine tree, slowly dying in the summer heat. Several empty pavilions guarded the river bank. Two yellow chairs were seated in the water, still standing. The long grass all around grew wild and free. A couple of small storage sheds stood closer to the edge of the forest, though the steps leading into them were slowly collapsing. A very old and unsafe looking staircase stood leading up the hill, though we dare not follow it. What was this place?

Unknown to us at the time, this was the abandoned Sunrise Resort. Since we had our dog in tow and had no idea where we were, we decided to leave…after snapping a few pictures of course. This place wasn’t safe for Tojo to be walking around, and we were completely in the dark on what this strange place was or if we were allowed to be there. As we made the trek through the forest and back to the car, we decided to do some research on what we had just found: what is was, who lived there, why it was abandoned. But more importantly, we vowed to return. Stay tuned for Part II next week.

Far from Home

Exploring the Abandoned Skinner House

By Sean and Amanda

There’s a knock at the door, but nobody answers. The sounds echo through the house’s empty rooms. There’s a hole in the roof that will never be fixed. Birds and wildlife come and go through it as they please. The old shed collapsed years ago. It lies in ruin beside the decaying barn. An old car sits in the driveway. The tires have been flattened over time. Wild vines have started to take it over. Blocked in behind it sits an old truck. Its original color and model name have become unrecognizable. If these old walls could talk, I don’t think they would talk at all. I think they would scream. They would scream because they have seen too much, and they’ve had to go through it all alone. They would cry out in pain and anguish, because whoever once called this place home clearly left a long time ago. This is the Skinner House.

Down a back country road in a forgotten part of a little town lies an old house. Who lived there? How long has it been abandoned? Why was this house left to rot? We don’t know. And in fact, nobody around here seems to. The neighbors of this place were either no help or could not be reached for comment. What we can tell you about the Skinner House is that it has clearly been empty for many years. To be perfectly clear, we can neither confirm nor deny that it is in fact called the Skinner House. It has earned this nickname due to the fact that it sits right on the corner of Shoddy Mill Road and the windy Skinner Road in Bolton, Connecticut. It is barely a mile from the border of rural Andover, Connecticut and a stone’s throw from the heavily trafficked Route 6A.

I drive past the Skinner House almost every day on my way to and from work. It took me awhile to even notice that it was in fact abandoned. No offense to the people that live in these rural towns, but most seem to have at least one house that is not very taken care of. But after weeks of driving past this old house in the early mornings and late afternoons, I began to notice things. I never saw a single person come or go from it. There was never a light on inside of it. The two broken down cars in the driveway never moved. Every single day passing by it, the house seemed to be sitting there frozen in time. Nothing ever seemed to change. Using our standard methods of preparing for an investigation, (see The 5 Rules), I found absolutely no information on the house. It had simply been forgotten.

So during a chilly winter day in December, we decided to go have a look around. The Skinner House isn’t too difficult to find. It is nestled at the crossroads of a nice little neighborhood and a backcountry road. As stated earlier, it is almost right on top of the border between the towns of Bolton and Andover. It stands right next to a small bridge covering an even smaller stream. Just in case there actually was someone living there, we didn’t just pull up the driveway. There is a little spot beside the bridge that we could easily pull up to. The Skinner House is actually a good sized building, with at least two floors. There is also a large barn standing beside the street. The remnants of what looked like a shed or even a smaller barn lay next to that. Behind the house is just wild trees and wilderness.

Not only did we find not a single sign of life, but we also didn’t find a single NO TRESPASSING sign. There was nothing here. In the woods behind the house, there were plenty of signs warning off any potential hunters or fishermen. But no such signs were posted on the property itself. After a quick look around and a knock on the old door, it became perfectly clear to us that this wasteland was indeed abandoned. Inside of the house, there was nothing but trash left behind. And in fact, the caved in roof and the old floor boards are so unstable that we did not even go inside. To do so would be incredibly dangerous. We also found evidence of some sort of large animal, or animals, taking up residence inside the old house. Even though there are no KEEP OUT signs, it is best to do so.

What we found most interesting about the abandoned Skinner House were the cars that had been left behind. They sit alone in the driveway, with brush and foliage all over them. In the front is an old red Mercury sedan. Its tires are flat, but it could still be in salvageable shape. Blocked in behind it is an old truck. This thing was so old and beat up, we couldn’t even tell what Make or Model it was. It is now just a rusty hunk of metal. Remarkably, we didn’t find much of any vandalism on the property. None of the windows on the house have been smashed, there was no liter on the grounds, and we didn’t find any graffiti. Inside the house may be a different story though. The barn is in just as poor shape as the house. Paint is slowly chipping and the wood frame is rapidly decaying. On a lighter note, we did find a family of rabbits now occupies the old barn.

The Skinner House is by far one of our more unique investigations. Not only did we not find any information at all about this place, but it seems like it has been relatively left alone in its state of decay. Not a single FOR SALE, NO TRESPASSING, or KEEP OUT sign can be found on the property. With the cars still in the driveway, it seems like people just got up and left one day. Nature now rules this place. The wild now lives where humans once did. Though the house still stands, it is far from a home. We are still left to wonder why the Skinner House was abandoned. And what happened to the people that lived there.

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