Posts Tagged ‘lost’

Rise and Shine

The Abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I’m going to start this piece off with a bang. Full disclosure right out of the gate: this place is NOT technically abandoned. This is a tourist attraction. It’s more or less a museum. You have to pay admission to get in. There are guided tours. There’s a bloody gift shop. BUT…I still think this place is pretty cool. Bear with me, even just for a second. It fits right in with the rising trend of “Arrested Decay,” or a “Preserved Ruin.” Abandoned places such as Eastern State Penitentiary find new life and provide sustenance to their communities through this new endeavor. Former abandoned places are provided with just enough support to keep from falling into complete disrepair. Think about what it would cost to demolish a place like this. But instead, with minimal investment, it becomes a place that entertains and educates anyone wishing to come see it. If this doesn’t interest you, I can completely respect any readers wishing to discontinue here. This obviously isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But for those of you still with me, let’s get on with the tour.

As aforementioned, this is Philadelphia’s colossal Eastern State Penitentiary. Once one of the largest and most ambitious correctional facilities in American history, this place has truly become a legend. First built in 1829, the prison housed some of America’s most feared criminals: including legendary Chicago Kingpin Al Capone. The prison caught attention for it’s massive size and unique architectural design, which featured seven cell blocks intersecting at a central hub. Men, women, and even a few children were held here. With large cells designed for “self reflection” during incarceration, the facility was eventually plagued by overcrowding during the early 20th century. Being forced to house more than expected, along with it’s archaic design, eventually forced the prison to close it’s doors for good in 1971. And there it sat for many years, even after being registered as a National Historic Landmark. Empty. Abandoned. Rotting. But during the 1980’s, a movement began to restore the prison to it’s former glory. Not as prison. But much like Alcatraz before it: as a tourist attraction.

During the waning days of Spring 2019, we found ourselves down in Philadelphia for the weekend. This year alone, we’ve covered places in New York, Boston, and now the City of Brotherly Love. Cool for us, I guess. Anyway, I had heard of Eastern State Penitentiary many times before on the Discovery Channel series Mysteries of the Abandoned (which I highly recommend to anyone on here.) Given the fact that the facility is right smack in the middle of the city, we decided to plan a visit. Luckily, we had absolutely beautiful weather for our trip. After a short Uber ride, we arrived at the gates of the prison. It really does stand out A LOT from the rest of the city. It’s like you’re rolling down a typical city street, and then bam. There it is. A giant stone fortress nestled amongst the casual restaurants and bodegas. The windows of the guard towers have been smashed. The old grey ramparts give this place an almost medieval feel. And the prison itself casts a giant shadow over her host city. Passing through the great stone gates is like walking into another world.

The prison is open to both guided and self-guided tours, with little headsets. We, of course, chose the self-guided tour. I, of course, did not grab a headset. It just feels too touristy to me. There were only a few people here during our visit. Straight off the bat, you can tell which areas of the prison are “staged” and which areas aren’t. For example, many of the cells contain a few props and set pieces to give off the creepy vibe to visitors. It’s all in good fun, but some are really blatant about it. Some, however, are actually very creepy. But these are the areas that are more cut off from the rest of the prison. If you follow the right paths, you can see the much darker and quieter corners of the monstrous facility. You honestly have to work a little harder to get away from the crowds in order to really enjoy this place. If you’re like us, that is. Places like Death Row, the Hospital Wing, and the basement had no visitors to them. And these were the areas that clearly haven’t gotten any support or upkeep. But that’s what makes them the best parts. They feel like an actual abandoned place, as opposed to part of a “preserved ruin.”

All in all, I almost kind of feel like a cheat writing about this place for our site. But at the same time, I kind of don’t. It’s our first real exploration outside of the New England/New York area. Plus, if the Discovery Channel can cover it for their show, I don’t see why we can’t as well. It may come off at times as a real tourist attraction, but is that such a bad thing? As opposed to being left to rot, this place now educates and entertains all who pass through her doors. Plus parts of Eastern State Penitentiary are absolutely chilling. Old cell blocks. Broken down barber chairs. That classic abandoned place smell (you know what I’m talking about). This place had it all. You just had to look a little harder for it. When you peel back some of the artsy and touristy stuff plastered all over this old facility, you realize just how terrifying it once was to the men and women who were housed here years ago. The lights may be back on in this place. But the shadows and the ghosts of days long since passed still haunt this hollowed ground.

ESP2

If you are at all interested in visiting Eastern State Peniteniary, please check out their official website herehttp://www.easternstate.org

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.

The Bruin Ruins

The Abandoned Boston Bear Dens

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I’ve never liked going to the zoo. Ever since I was just a kid. I know that they do a lot of good. I know that many of them help rehabilitate wildlife. I know that they bring so much joy to so many people. It’s just the idea of these amazing animals in captivity where they don’t belong has never sat well with me. I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. Maybe it’s because I grew up with more dogs in my house than siblings. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like I had a stronger connection to animals than other people. I don’t know, and frankly, this line of thought is getting depressing. Moving on. We’ve covered a couple abandoned zoos in the past, most notably the Shade Swamp Shelter in Central Connecticut. They’ve always been kind of creepy. But this place was a bit more unique. For starters, this is only a forgotten piece of one of the largest zoos in New England. Also, it currently stands in the middle of the biggest city in the North Eastern United States – Boston, Massachusetts.

This is Franklin Park. Say hello, everyone. It is more, or less, the equivalent of Boston’s Central Park. As in, it is the largest park within the city limits. First opening in the early nineteen hundreds, one of the key features of the park is the zoo. When it’s doors first opened in 1908, Franklin Park Zoo was free to the public, covered a great distance across the park, and housed many different exotic animals. For many years, the zoo was a big hit. However, it unfortunately was just hitting its stride as the rest of the country began to fall on hard times during the mid 1920’s. She sadly fell into disrepair, until 1958 when the grounds were acquired by the local government. The zoo was brought back to life in a big way, and flourishes even today. But during this time of renovation, certain sectors of the grounds were cut off and left to rot. One such part are the now abandoned Bear Dens of the Long Crouch Woods. The animals, of course, did find other homes in the expanded zoo. But their old enclosures were deemed to expensive to take down.

March is Lassie’s birthday month, and we go on a short mini-vacation every year to celebrate. This year, we had chosen Boston as our destination. Naturally, we looked for at least one abandoned place in the city to check out. Truth be told, I hadn’t been to Boston in four years. I had filmed plenty of movies and commercials up there when I was younger, but hadn’t been around that way in a long time. After a bit of searching, we both became captivated by this place and decided to pay it a visit. Lucky for us, we got some pretty decent weather. Also lucky for us, Franklin Park is only a few blocks walk from the nearest T-station. We made the trip in the early morning, so as to get the most out of our day. The park was mostly quiet, given that it was a school day and all. It is also full of amenities, including the aforementioned zoo, a school, and a playground. Unfortunately, we chose not to bring our camera since we had plans in the city later that afternoon. So all of these photos were taken on our phones.

The abandoned Bear Dens lie in the northern most point of the park, also known as the Long Crouch Woods. And I can honestly say, they are very striking. Against the grey backdrop of the Spring New England skyline, the old bear dens are rundown but still very grand in stature. All of the metal framework is quite rusted, and much of the stone is crumbling. Yet the sheer size and elegance of it all gives this place a very sturdy and unique look to it all. The mix of grey stone and brown metal make for a strong outward appearance. At the very top of the stone frame, the carvings of two bears and can still be seen. If you’re feeling daring, you can still peek into a few of the old sleeping quarters in the back. A very nice Park Ranger did come to check up on us. He unfortunately did not have much information to tell us, but let us take all of the pictures that we wanted. Which was nice. In my experiences, security guards can be a real hit or miss. Some can be really cool, like this gentleman. Others, however, can be real assholes.

We stayed for a decent amount of time. There isn’t too much to see here, but it is a really cool place. As far as I know, the abandoned Bear Dens are completely legal to visit. Just be cool about it, as the Park Rangers obviously keep a close eye on this place. And rightfully so. There was hardly any graffiti or vandalism here, but there were some rather unsavory characters snooping around after we left. Much like the bears that once roamed this unique place, it is has a rough exterior and a certain majesty about it. We of course visited the regular zoo once we were finished exploring, which I highly recommend. As I said earlier, I usually don’t like visiting zoos. But this place is very special. I personally found the hyenas to be my favorite exhibit. The park has so much history to it. The bear dens still stand tough after all these years. The zoo itself is so full of life. And just because you didn’t like something for years, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.

 

Tears of a Mountain

The Abandoned Mount Beacon Railway

Written by: Wilk

Photographs: Lassie

Most people like to go the beach on their vacations. Somewhere hot, where there’s a soft ocean breeze and they put little umbrellas in the drinks. I am not one of those people. I don’t like sand. It’s coarse, and rough, and irritating. And it gets everywhere. (References, we’ve got them.) Personally, I prefer the mountains. Always have. Always will. Whether it be winter or summer, they are my favorite places to visit. There is just something so breathtaking and awe-inspiring about them. I’ve been climbing them my whole life. From my time in the Scouts, up until now. There is just no better feeling than reaching a beautiful mountain top after a long hike. By the way, this will be our 100th post here at Abandoned Wonders, so be warned. There will be a lot of reminiscing moving forward. While vacationing in New York, we decided to climb one of the local mountains – Mount Beacon. Little did we know at the time, this place holds a story and a secret that sets her apart from most mountaintops.

It was once known officially as the Mount Beacon Incline Railway, located in the absolutely beautiful town of Beacon, New York. First established in 1902, the railway was a very popular tourist attraction for much of its heyday. If you have ever rode Mount Washington’s Cog Railway in New Hampshire, this establishment was very similar….just on a much smaller scale. A trolley system ferried guests up the picturesque mountaintop to an old fashioned casino, luxurious hotel, and a gorgeous view of the Hudson River Valley. For decades, this place was a staple of the local community. But as we all know, time stands still for no one. Eventually, financial issues caused the downfall of the railway. And while she went out of business in the 1970’s, she was also added to the list of National Historical landmarks. Unfortunately, not much still stands of the attraction after a vicious case of alleged arson destroyed most of the buildings atop of the mountain. Now, all that remains of this former hotspot are the memories of what once was.

While on our trip to the Hudson River Valley, we decided to take a stop at the nearby Mount Beacon. Having just toured Bannerman Castle the day before, we thought it would be an appropriate follow-up. At first glances, this place appears to be like any other mountain hike. But if you take a closer look, there is so much more than meets the eye. The old train tracks still run down the side of the mountain, like a trail of tears from the former summit. About half-way up, a few old train trolleys rust into oblivion. Honestly, the train tracks are hard to photograph, due to the large amount of vegetation growing around them. A trail of rotting utility polls lead upward like a twisted trail of breadcrumbs. Atop of the mountain, the old wheelhouse lies in ruin. The brick hull of the building crumbles, whilst the heavy machinery inside is actually in pretty decent shape. Minus the myriad of graffiti, of course. But the hotel and casino are long gone, unfortunate victims of the fire that once consumed this lonely mountain. Funny enough, you can even get a great glimpse of Bannerman Castle itself from up here.

I wish I could say that there was more to see here. But this is definitely a piece for all the hikers. And trust me when I say, this was one Hell of a hike. But it also had one Hell of a payoff. It seems the old railway has finally met her doom at the top of Mount Beacon. While there are movements to restore it to its former glory, there is regrettably not much left to save here. The old train tracks are slowly being eaten alive by the forest around them. Where the hotel and casino once stood are now nothing more than ruins. The wheelhouse has become a target for the local vandals. And yet, the view from the top of the pinnacle’s highest peak is still bloody breathtaking. That, my friends, is one thing that will always set this place apart. The Hudson River Valley is truly one the most amazing places I have ever seen. And there is no better place to see it than atop this amazing mountain. Though time seems to march on without the Mount Beacon Railway, nobody will ever be able to take that away.

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” –Greg Child

 

New Day’s Dawn

The Abandoned Scott Tower

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s a new day. It’s a new year. It’s a new time. The dawn of 2019 is upon us. Funny enough, it never really feels any different than the previous year to me. At least, not right away that is. The only thing that really tells you its a new year is having to change the date whenever you sign a check. We make our fancy resolutions. We get drunk at our New Year’s Eve parties. We like to think things will be different this time around. But some things never really change. No matter how much we want them to. That’s why I’ve never been such a big fan of the whole “New Year” concept. Life changes faster than the weather around here. But I never needed a calendar to tell me that. But enough of the negativity. Happy New Year everyone! We usually go inactive during this season, but plans change. With the impending viciousness of the New England winter upon us, we took what might be our one last chance until Spring to have our first investigation of 2019. And this time, things were definitely a little bit different.

It gets me every time when I find a place like this having never heard of it before. I actually found out about it on reddit of all places. This is Scott Memorial Tower in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Standing atop Craft Hill, the tower was first built in 1942. The name Scott Tower was bestowed upon this place in honor of local hero Colonel Walter Scott. As part of a venture to build a new park for the area, picnic tables and other amenities sprouted up alongside the tower over the years. With two lookout points, the tower provided a beautiful view of Western Massachusetts. Thus it became one of the jewels of the local community. But this time of prosperity was not to last. A bypass of local highways ended up costing the park in a big way. Attendance steadily began to wain as her former patrons moved on to newer parks. And by the 1980’s, she had fallen into complete despair. There have been several attempts at a revival, but none have come to fruition. Ever since, the once grand tower now stands lost and lonely before her fallen kingdom.

It was only a few days after the New Year that we decided to visit Scott Tower. Being close by, and what was supposed to be good weather (we’ll get to that in a bit), we thought it would be a good time to check out this mysterious place. It was a bit of a spur of a moment type visit. We have explored a lot of places in the Western Massachusetts area over the last year. But this one was a bit different. Located in the now defunct Anniversary Hills park, the tower lies down a forgotten road in a quiet wood. The only other people we encountered on our journey were two elderly women and their three yappy dogs. Interestingly, the best way to the tower is through the now flourishing Community Field. Follow the old path under the highway, and you’ll find the tower. There is even some graffiti on the pavement to give you exact directions. Which was nice. Skeletons of picnic tables still haunt the forest. A once elegant staircase leads up the hill. The old stone spire looms like a ghostly shadow out of the forest. The grey skies provided an elegant backdrop for this ghostly monolith. But the large cellular tower nearby is a bit of a distraction.

I can honestly tell you that Scott Tower is in rough shape. The structure itself is still quite solid. Everything else, however, has fallen into shadow. It was deathly silent here. There was broken glass, garbage, and all sorts of horribly gross shit all over the ground. I’m talking used condoms, hypodermic needles, and bags full of God knows what. Almost every inch of reachable stone has been coated in graffiti. The staircase to the top of the tower is still open though. 21 year old me would’ve jumped at the chance to climb this thing. 27 year old me, however, had motion sickness by the time he reached the top. Seriously. The path to the pinnacle is narrow as Hell, and just seems to go on forever. Watch your step, too. Some steps are broken, and some are just plain gone. I had to lean on the railing the entire way up. There is one stop on the way up which serves as a nice reprieve. Plus its super dark inside, so bring a flashlight. When we finally did reach the top, it started snowing. Like crazy. So we were stuck up there for awhile just watching it fall. But on the brighter side, the view of the Mount Tom valley is just bloody breathtaking.

As far as we know, Scott Tower is completely legal to visit. There is even a sign on the front wall of the tower reading “Enter at Own Risk.” Heed this warning. Perhaps that is one of the contributing factors to its current state of decay. I highly recommend it to anyone in search of adventure. Just please be safe. The area is allegedly home to some rather unsavory characters. Especially at night. And climbing the tower itself is a bit of a beast, especially if you’re 6’3″ like myself. Always watch your step. One thing I will never forget about this place are the robins. It’s rare to see them during this time of year. And yet a flock of six robins followed us through our entire journey to and from the tower. They never made any noise. They just all sat in the trees and watched us. Curious, isn’t it? Given that robins are the harbingers of Spring around here, maybe this was a good omen. Obviously, winter has just begun. But maybe the presence of Connecticut’s state bird is the sign of some sort of New Day. We’ll see what happens.

Flight of Dragons

The Ruins of Bannerman Castle

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We have been doing this urban exploration thing for over five years now. We have explored places all over New England. We’ve seen the abandoned hospitals of Connecticut, the derelict fortresses of Rhode Island, the lost ski resorts of Vermont, and the forgotten landmarks of Massachusetts. New England has always been our base of operation. But this past autumn, we finally headed west to the Empire State. New York is a place that we have visited a few times lately on movie business, mostly in the city. But we had never done any exploring there. Technically, it’s almost closer to us than a lot of the places we’ve already visited. For some reason, it was just a place that seemed to have evaded us over the years. And so, for our eight year anniversary we finally decided that it was time to see what the great state of New York had to offer. Our first destination? Bannerman Castle.

Of all the places in New York, it was the Hudson River Valley that caught our attention the most. Bannerman Castle is kind of a local legend in these parts. Oddly enough, the local inn we stayed at on our trip had dozens of paintings of the castle all throughout their foyer. Located on Pollepel Island, smack dab in the middle of the roaring Hudson River, the castle was first built in 1901 by industrialist Francis Bannerman IV. Making his fortune in the scrap business, Bannerman is unofficially known as “The Father of Gun Collecting.” When he was prohibited from housing his large stockpile of ammunition in New York City, Bannerman moved his base of operation upriver to the nearby island.Though the main castle was built as a housing facility for his vast arms and munitions arsenal, the island was also the vacation home of the Bannerman family. Following Francis’s death in 1918, the castle went through a series of unfortunate events including fires, accidents, and architectural collapses. The island was named off-limits in 1969.

Since its closure, Bannerman Castle has slowly deteriorated. It’s once grand presence now haunts the Hudson River Valley. But in recent years, the local community has come together to bring it back to life. Through the Bannerman Castle Trust, certain buildings have been restored and the castle itself stands in a state of arrested decay. Much like Chester-Hudson Quarry in Massachusetts, the castle is maintained just enough to keep it from collapsing. This allows people from all over the world to experience its sheer beauty. The castle was even featured in the most recent Transformers movie. The trust offers tours of the island in the summer and fall via ferry or by kayak (for the summer only). We were lucky enough to catch one of the final ferry tours of the season. Taking a small boat through the roaring Hudson River, the castle looms like a mythical giant in the distance. It beckons all weary travels towards its once rich gateways.

Honestly, the castle is damn near awe-inspiring. Against the gorgeous backdrop of the Hudson River Valley around it, the faded red palace looks like something out of a fairy tale. It almost looks as if it were hewn from the very mountains by great giants of old. While the front of the castle still looks amazing, the back is in much worse shape. It looks like it could collapse at any moment. To create a barrier for his island, Francis Bannerman sunk several large barges around it topped with small stone towers. A few of these still peak out from the river’s roaring current. Unfortunately, seeing this place is much more tourism that it is exploration. We were on the island for a grand total of about an hour, and did not get to see the castle as up close as I would have liked. Guides ferry visitors to and fro across the island like sheep. Nothing against them or the Bannerman Castle Trust, I just would’ve preferred seeing the place on our own as opposed to in a group. This was definitely a very different experience than we are used to.

I almost didn’t write about this place for our site. I don’t really know why. It just didn’t really fit in with what we usually cover. Like I said before, this place is much more in line with Dark Tourism than it is urban exploration. But Bannerman Castle truly is amazing to see. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a little adventure. Plus you get to go on a boat ride through the Hudson River. Even if you don’t take the island tour, seeing it from the banks of the river or the top of nearby Mount Beacon is bloody breathtaking. Much like Hearthstone Castle, it feels like something from a dream. Yet as awesome as Bannerman Castle is, I couldn’t help but imagine what it must’ve been like during its heyday. Walking across the island was just as cool as it was somber. The dragons that once ruled this magical place have long since flown off. And yet, somehow, the castle has captured the hearts and minds of the local community. She may never again rise to her former glory. Yet with a little help, she still stands tall.

If you are interested in visiting the castle, please check out the Bannerman Castle Trust’s website here – https://www.bannermancastle.org

Hail to the King

The Abandoned Hearthstone Castle

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Happy Fall, everyone. It’s finally here. The leaves are changing colors. The nights are getting colder. The mornings are growing darker. And the scary movies are starting to pop up on television. Though it always feels like such a passing season, each moment of Fall comes with its own personal flair. In some ways, it just might be my personal favorite season. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. This one, however, in particular is special for us. Not only was it our eight year anniversary together, but we finally made it to a place that has haunted us for years. We have made many plans to go see it at many points during our six years of urban exploring. Yet somehow, especially with its looming potential demolition, we never quite made it to this hot-spot. Plus practically every urban explorer in the area has covered this place at least once. This is Hearthstone Castle, a true legend in these parts. If you are reading this, you have most likely heard of or visited this place. And now, after all these years, she finally makes an appearance here on our site.

The history of Hearthstone Castle is brief, but checkered. Located in Danbury, Connecticut, the castle was built in 1895 to a wealthy local family. For years she served as a residence and a summer home for her keepers, much like other places we have covered including Case Cabin and Bannerman Castle. Materials to create and furnish the castle were flown in from around the globe, helping to make this place a palace of luxury. She changed ownership and name many times over the years, before finally being sold to the town of Danbury in 1987. It was here that things began to take a dark turn for the castle. Though it was declared a National Historic Place, the property rapidly began to fall into disrepair. Nobody seemed quite sure what to do with the castle. Many proposals have come and gone with what would be next for the old castle even as nature slowly began to strike back. Today she sits completely abandoned, and has become a favorite place amongst the local urban explorer community.

We really weren’t planning on stopping at Hearthstone. Coming home from New York, we saw that we would be going straight through Danbury. It was a nice day out, and we really didn’t have anything else planned for our journey. And thus, we decided to stop and see the fabled castle. As a hiker and a hunter, finding Hearthstone was disappointing. You park your car. You walk into the woods. And there it is. There is no long hike. There is no hunt through the woods. Its just sitting right there, waiting for you. It was all just too damn easy. I can see why it is a favorite for so many explorers, since you don’t have to do much exploring to find it. And yet, the castle is simply breathtaking. The old stone architecture is unmatched. It is very reminiscent of the nearby Gillette Castle. Birds chirp from the ramparts. A fox scurries amongst the underbrush. And remarkably, not a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign was in sight. A couple random fences still stand, but other than that, the castle is just there for the taking.

I can honestly say that the years have not been kind to Hearthstone Castle. Though her tough stone facade remains unflinching, her interiors have been truly disemboweled. Everything has just been totally gutted. The floors are all gone. And those that still stand are shaky as all Hell. Broken glass and splinters of wood are all over the ground. A few beams from the higher levels still bisect the structure. Graffiti and vandalism runs rampant across the grounds, except for in the higher to reach places. Wild vines and vegetation grow in canopies across the walls and porches. The once great walls that were once occupied by the highest of society are now home to the wrath of nature and vandalism. If your tall, like myself, this place can be a little tricky to navigate. There are a lot of tight spots between the walls, the vegetation, and the debris. I can honestly see why this place has been scheduled for demolition. And yet, through it all, she still remains steadfastly beautiful.

 It was honestly really hard to tear myself away from Hearthstone Castle. I spent a long time just staring at it well after we had finished exploring, trying to take in every tiny detail. It just has a certain magic to it. I just couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting more. When we finally did leave, I had to tell myself not to look back. This was genuinely hard to do. It was sad to think that this was the first, and will probably be the last time that I see the castle. With every year that passes, somebody of importance almost always says that it will be Hearthstone’s final year. Fences are put up. Plans are made. Yet nothing ever comes of it. But I guess that is just the brevity of existence. We’ve got to enjoy life one day at a time. When the time to say goodbye finally comes, it’s important not to look back. And one day Hearthstone Castle will fall, whether it be by the teeth of a bulldozer or the slow decay of time. But no matter what the future may hold for this magical place, it will always be a legend.