Posts Tagged ‘Cinema’

For Roads Untraveled

The Abandoned I-84 West Stack Interchange

Written by: Sean

Photographs by: Amanda

Weep not for roads untraveled.

Weep not for paths left lone.

‘Cause beyond every bend is a long blinding end.

Its the worst kind of pain I’ve known.”

I could not get this song out of my head as we walked through the abandoned wasteland. We have seen and explored many places across New England in our time. But this one was truly breathtaking. It was like being in another dimension, so close yet so far from civilization. With every step I was expecting this place to just magically come back to life. It is place where time seems to stand still, waiting for man to return to it. We had heard many legends and stories about this place over the years. And with recent rumors of it being redeveloped, we figured it was finally time for us to pay a visit to the abandoned I-84 West Stack Interchange.

Connecticut is, and probably always will be, my home. But I can honestly say that it is a place that is no stranger to lucrative, and ultimately foolish, design projects. This is not the first abandoned stretch of highway we have come across, and it probably won’t be the last. With the project originally launching in the 1960’s, it was planned to extend Route 9 North and allegedly connect 291 with the city of Hartford (we have read conflicting information). Things came to a sudden halt in 1973, however, over complications with the local reservoirs in West Hartford. The interchange has lain dormant ever since, trafficked now only by vandals and pigeons.

  Not one NO TRESPASSING sign or anything of the sort was here. The fences were all open or simply taken down. But curiously, the grass and vegetation is definitely being cut and maintained.  There was also plenty of evidence that vehicles have been riding up and down this stretch very recently. Someone has clearly been keeping an eye on this place. Graffiti has been spray painted all over the barren wasteland.  It is deathly silent, except for the faint chorus of the summer bugs. The great steel and concrete bridges show no sign of decay. Farther down the road, the busy I-84 runs like a roaring river below the abandoned interchange.

Finally visiting the abandoned I-84 West Stack Interchange was haunting. It is one of those few special places that is a true representation of what life after people looks like. Though there are rumors of revival, and clearly somebody is maintaining it, this place remains nothing more than a broken road.  It is sad to see this industrial titan standing silent and alone, so close to completion. Who knows how much it cost the people of Connecticut. It stands as a grim reminder of a big mistake. Even now as I sit here at my desk writing this reflection, the haunting tune of my favorite Linkin Park song still rings in my head.

“Weep not for roads untraveled.

Weep not for sights unseen.

May your love never end and if you need a friend,

there’s a seat here along side me.”

Fallen Attraction

The Abandoned Gillette Castle Railroad

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

In the absence of light, darkness prevails. When there is no heat, there is only cold. And without love, there is nothing left but despair. It’s funny because Gillette Castle, along with Hublien Tower, was one of my favorite places to visit when I was a kid. A short half-hour drive away, it was one of those magical places to visit and get ice cream at during the heydays of summertime. With its winding trails and classical feel, it truly is a sight to see. I honestly believed I had hiked every inch of this park. But I was wrong. Lost deep in the woods and along the rocky banks of the Connecticut River is the fallen attraction of this fabled place – The Gillette Castle Railroad.

Located in picturesque East Haddam, Connecticut, Gillette Castle was the luxurious and mystical castle of prolific actor William Gillette. With no children to leave his estate to, Gillette left the grounds to the state of Connecticut after his passing. Today it is enjoyed by many for its hiking and wonderful view of the Connecticut River. But unbeknownst to most, myself included for a time, is that there once stood a railroad around the estate. Though it was a small train, which can now be viewed at the Visitor’s Center, tracks once covered the entire grounds to carry visitors from place to place. When it was originally sold off, most of the tracks were ripped up and the old railroad disappeared…but not completely.

We made our trip to Gillette Castle on one of the final weekends of summertime 2017. The park was just as lively as I had remembered it. But far down one of the quieter sides of the grounds lie the remains of the railroad. An old bridge has been closed down for being unstable. Another has collapsed into the underbrush. Far down the cliffs by the roaring Connecticut River stand several old pieces of track and framework. Old rusty barrels rot into the fertile forest floor. But the star of the show is by far the old tunnel. Though it may not run as long as we had hoped, inside is pure unadulterated darkness. With its entrance nearly lost to the woods around it, its certainly a fun little walk through.

A special shout-out of this piece goes to our reader who called himself “Mike.” A few weeks ago, he contacted us with several suggestions of places to visit in his area including the Gillette Castle Railroad. And this place really didn’t disappoint. Truth be told, we really don’t get as much fan interaction as we would like. And we love it when people tell us their stories or suggest places for us to explore. It makes this hobby just a little bit more fun and meaningful. I wish that I had been able to see this railroad during its heyday, but alas, it is no more. Though this is more of a hiking piece, the old train tunnel really is pretty cool. And just as this place was highly recommended for us to visit, I encourage you to do the same.

The Top Ten Movies Filmed in Abandoned Places

Written by: Sean L.

When I wrote the original “Top Ten Movies Set in Abandoned Places” article, it was meant to be a throw-away piece. Just something to fill time. We had been busy in the early spring of last year, riding off our recent visit to the abandoned Enchanted Forest in Rhode Island. We needed a fun piece just to keep the site going, so I wrote it within an hour. A year later, it has become our most popular article with hundreds of views every month. There has been much demand for a sequel, and it has taken me a long time to put together. But it has finally arrived. I did the best I could to provide a nice mix of indie gems and Hollywood blockbusters. Enjoy!

Here are the Top 10 Movies Filmed in Abandoned Places.

#10 – Almost Mercy – Woonsocket Middle School

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3480446/

As per tradition, we start this list off with one of my movies (My Page). Yes, it’s petty. But it’s my list. Plus, this is the best movie I have ever been in. Even though most of my scenes got cut, it is still my favorite film I have worked on. I wouldn’t call it a horror movie, but it is pretty dark. The film follows outcast best friends, Jackson and Emily, who take it upon themselves to take revenge on the wicked world that wronged them. A good proportion of the film was shot at the abandoned Woonsocket Middle School in Rhode Island. After closing in 2009, this behemoth took on the honor of becoming the largest abandoned school on the entire eastern seaboard. The haunting location just adds an extra layer of darkness to an already eerily fun movie.

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#9 – Session 9 – Danvers State Hospital

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261983/

Number 9. Session 9. Get it? Though it may have flown under the radar for some, this spooky indie horror film has managed to withstand the test of time. Starring TV veteran actor David Caruso and a young Josh Lucas, the film follows an asbestos removal crew slowly unraveling mentally while working in a ghostly abandoned hospital.  Filming took place in the safe and usable sections of then abandoned (now demolished) Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts. Little set design was said to be needed for the film, and even actor David Caruso reported a few strange experiences while filming in the abandoned asylum.

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#8 – House of Dust – Mansfield Training School

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1309374/

We’re really sticking with the New England theme here. Featuring a few MTV stars and allegedly based on true events, the film was helmed by local film legend A.D. Calvo. The movie may not be a classic, but interestingly it was both set in and filmed at the abandoned Mansfield Training School in Storrs, Connecticut. The movie follows a group of college students exploring the defunct hospital that accidentally release some malevolent spirits from their ashy resting place. One by one, they become possessed by the souls of those long since past. Like I said, it may not be a classic. But the set design and the cinematography make it certainly worth a look.

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#7 – Skyfall – Hashima Island

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1074638/

Number 7 for 007. This one is farther down the list as it is a bit of a technicality. Technically, the film did not shoot on Hashima Island, as the Japanese government forbids anyone to set foot on it. But the production of the movie was permitted to use exterior footage of the island in the final cut. I think it’s still pretty cool. The film follows agent 007 on his latest adventure, pursuing the mysterious villain Raoul Silva, whose evil lair just happens to be the deserted industrial island of Hashima. The crew were forced to built a set and use CGI for scenes taking place on the island, but that is the real place you see in those exterior shots. Not bad for one of the best Bond films of all time.

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#6 – The Road – Pennsylvania Turnpike

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/

I assure you that “The Road” will be the only movie to feature on both this and the previous list. But it is just such an interesting movie with a very unique filming location. After an unexplained apocalypse decimates the world, a man and his son trek towards the coast in hope of survival. In order to capture this, the filmmakers turned to the famous abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. Though it is now a popular tourist attraction, this long stretch of abandoned highway was bypassed by a series of new roads. It was eventually left behind. Though cars no longer travel down it, local cyclists certainly enjoy it. But just like in this movie, beware of the long empty tunnels on the road.

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#5 – Hanna – Spreepark 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0993842/

This 2011 action film really doesn’t get enough credit. With a lot of heart and another fantastic performance from a young Saoirse Ronan, it is much more than meets the eye. The movie follows a young assassin, raised her entire life to be a killer, as she treks across Europe on one final mission towards freedom. One of her stops on this mission is at an abandoned amusement park in Eastern Germany. This is in fact Spreepark, an infamous former attraction of East Berlin. Known for its animal and wildlife themes, the park has remained derelict since 2002. Though there are plans to reopen the park in 2018, it makes an excellent backdrop for one of the key action scenes in this sleeper thriller.

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#4 – Blade Trinity – The McBarge

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0359013/

This one is actually one of my favorites. Not the movie, but this place. It’s not a bad picture by all means, in fact I think it’s the best of the Blade series. But that really isn’t saying much. Human/vampire hybrid Blade must team up with a gang of vampire hunters known as the “Nightstalkers” to take on the mightiest vampire of all: Dracula. The word vampire gets used a lot in that sentence, but I really didn’t know how else to word it. What makes this new gang interesting, beside being headed by Jessica Biel and a young Ryan Reynolds, is their hideout. A seemingly dilapidated boat, this is actually the fabled McBarge. A failed idea from the 1986 Expo in Vancouver, this floating McDonald’s has been bobbing around in the water ever since. While shooting in Vancouver, producers thought it make the perfect hideout for their new vampire hunting team.

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 #3 – The Blair Witch Project – The Griggs House

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185937/

One of my personal favorite horror films, and the movie that arguably relaunched the “found-footage” genre. Whether you love it, or hate it, you cannot deny the impact that this movie made. The film follows three college students searching for and eventually being stalked by the elusive urban legend The Blair Witch in the woods of Maryland. But what many fans may not know is that the house where the climatic finale takes place was not a set. It was real. Though now demolished, filming of the movie’s ambiguous ending took place in the historic Griggs House in Patapsco Valley National Park (where most of the filming occurred).  The house was over 200 years old, and made for the perfect creepy location to end this creepy movie.

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#2 – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Michigan Central Station

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2975590/

I think the title of this movie kind of explains the plot better than I could. Following the events of “Man of Steel”, Superman finds himself in a clash of ideals with the Gotham City vigilante Batman. An interesting piece of trivia about this movie though is that it was one of the bigger ones to take advantage of shooting in the city of Detroit during their financial crisis. With the first few weeks of shooting taking place all across the city, one of the more climatic fight scenes of the film was shot at the legendary Michigan Central Station. With many failed redesign attempts, the station has been abandoned for years. But she may have found a new niche as a filming location as other movies such as “8 Mile” and “Transformers” have used the building as a set.

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#1 – Jurassic World – Six Flags New Orleans

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0369610/

Just because I’m a big “Jurassic Park” fan. Always have been. The plot of this movie follows a very similar plot to all the other films in the franchise, except that the park is actually open in this one. But one factor that makes this film really unique from its predecessors is a certain location where filming took place: the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans. Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, the park was left flooded for some time. After a long legal battle, Six Flags was able to break their lease on the park and left it abandoned. Though many redevelopment proposals have come forward, it still sits abandoned. But much like Michigan Central Station, this old park may have found new life as a movie location. Big budget films such as “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, and of course “Jurassic World” have all filmed at the ruined park. How? Life found a way.

original-jurassic-park-jeep-front

Know of any other movies filmed in abandoned places? Let us know in the comments! Likes/shares/comments/concerns/confessions/criticisms/questions are always welcomed.

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: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

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 5 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 5 Abandoned Places to Go Hiking

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

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!

#5 – 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.

#4 – 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.

#3 – 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.

#2 – 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.

#1 – Nike Missile Site (Portland, CT)

Our number one pick just happens to be in the middle of a state forest. 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.

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.

Lock the Gates – The Abandoned Seaside Sanatorium

Posted: November 29, 2016 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Children, 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, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, Seaside Sanatorium, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Waterford, writing
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Lock the Gates

The Abandoned Seaside Sanatorium

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Lock the gates. Bar the doors. Bolt the latch. Close up shop. You don’t have to go home. But you can’t stay here. Much that once was is now gone. We have certain traditions here at Abandoned Wonders. We like to look up places on Google Maps before visiting them, so we can figure out precisely where to go. We like to eat at Ruby Tuesday’s after exploring a cool place, just for the salad bar and Mr. Pibb. And we visit certain places once a year because they are just so damn cool. Seaside Sanatorium is one of those places. Sitting smack dab on the beautiful shores of Long Island Sound, Seaside Sanatorium really is one of the most picturesque abandoned places in all of New England. But this year, things have taken a turn for the worse. We are sad to say that this once abandoned wonder will never be the same.

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The main buildings on the grounds were designed by the world renowned architect Cass Gilbert in the early twentieth century. He was the same man responsible for masterminding the famous US Supreme Court building in Washington DC and New Haven’s Union Station. The facility was opened during the early 1930’s, seeing a long and colorful history that lasted until 1996. Over the years it has served as a children’s hospital, a treatment center for the elderly, and a facility for the intellectually disabled. Its beautiful setting along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean were said to provide a very peaceful atmosphere for its residents. Sadly though, the facility was allegedly home to several incidents of violent treatment of patients in the early 1990’s which would ultimately cause the demise of Seaside. It now sits abandoned, though it can be legally walked as a recreation area.

Like I said before, this was our fourth visit to the grounds in the last four years. Earlier this year, we published a video about Seaside using footage that we acquired last summer. Several of our readers were quick to point out that there are now chain link fences surrounding all of the main hospital buildings. Naturally, we had to go investigate. In the waning days of the summer 2016, we returned to visit our old friend. I can honestly say that things have changed. A lot. Indeed there are fences everywhere. The beast of the abandoned hospital has been caged, as has the old nurse’s building. Most heartbreaking of all, the old playground has been removed. Seeing this amazing and hauntingly beautiful old building now locked up was a sad sight indeed. It is not the thought of not being able to get inside anymore that makes it tragic. Its more that the fences mark what more than likely is the beginning of the end for Seaside Sanatorium.

Much like our previous visit, there were plenty of beach goers frequenting the grounds. And just like last year, none of them even seem to notice the giant abandoned hospital sitting right in front of them. Plenty of these people gave us weird looks as they watched us take pictures. One other young photographer was there though, which was a nice site to see. Even though she kept getting into our shots. One family even seemed to be camping out on the beach. Something that is interesting though is that state security guards have returned to the grounds. On our previous two visits, we couldn’t take one step without being followed by a security guard, though they were all very courteous and more than happy to talk about the abandoned hospital. Last year we were there for a whole day, and didn’t see a single one. But today, a very nice guard kept watch over the grounds and all of the beach people. And the work on the hospital is clearly far from over. Plenty of construction equipment and tools lie in the fenced off sections of the grounds.

The grounds have been officially commissioned as a State Park, and the old hospital buildings have also been named to the National Register of Historic Places. It is both rewarding and depressing to see the grounds in their current state. While the protective fences keep bad people out, it is also sad to see this former hospital trapped behind bars. State workers have been working to make the grounds safer to visitors, and allegedly considering several different options of what to do with the grounds. It is an ongoing process, but fortunately is one that seems to make progress. But until its final judgement day, the grounds of Seaside Sanatorium now sit under lock and key. Even the fabled ospreay seemed to have moved off. Over the last two years we’ve seen a flourishing family of them taking up residence in the chimney of the nurse’s building. But today, there was only one. She cawed in loneliness to the great blue ocean before her. Maybe the rest of her family is still out there. Or maybe those days are long gone.

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