Posts Tagged ‘Manchester CT’

My Sweet Summer

The Abandoned Case Cabin

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

What is it about summer time that makes it so magical? To me, it always seems like the shortest season. When I was a kid, August was my least favorite month of the year. And it was because the shadow of September and the dread of going back to school made it so hard to enjoy anything. But July, that was always the best. Vacations. Ice cream. The beach. Hiking. All the best summer memories come from July. And yet it always feels like the shortest month of the year. You had no worries about school, or homework. All that mattered was having fun. But I guess that’s just the brevity of human existence. Enjoy what you can while you can, because time stands still for no man. And few places we have ever visited have experienced such an extreme fall from grace as the once adored now abandoned Case Cabin.

In 1862, two brothers of the well-known Case family purchased two acres around the beautiful Case Reservoir in Manchester, Connecticut, and this is where they built their summer home. The Case family were successful industrialists from the area who owned and operated multiple factories and processing plants. The exquisite log cabin was first built in 1917 using sturdy chestnut wood from the neighboring forests. Throughout the early twentieth century, this place was the vacation paradise of the wealthy Case family. But much like the summer beauty, the prestige of this wondrous place eventually waned. The prestige of the family slowly came to end, and the summer home was eventually left behind.

We have visited Case Cabin many times over the years. And with each passing visit, the magic of the grounds disappears ever so slightly. And this was the visit for us where the most changes had been made to the grounds. There was a time where there were no fences, security systems, and renovations. The back and side decks were once accessible, now removed from existence. The entire back house has even been demolished at this point, leaving only a bare foundation of stone walls and broken memories. While a family of chubby bunnies now happily resides within the perimeter, the entire Case Cabin has been sealed off by a chain link fence. A few yards away, the boat house still stands. An old swimming ladder still pokes out of the nearby pond.

Much like the passing days of summer, the time for Case Cabin seems to be sadly drawing to a close. Though she was once enjoyed by the local high society, today she is nothing more than a withering spirit. She is lost to the slow decay of time, at the mercy of the unstoppable sands of the hourglass. But that’s what makes places like this, and summer itself, enjoyable. We know that our time is short, which is what drives us to make the best and most out of each moment. She once had a flourishing history and pedigree. But those days are gone. The sun is slowly setting on this once wondrous and wealthy place. Case Cabin will inevitably be gone someday. But the memories will always be with us.

“The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” -Troy (2004)

Field of Broken Dreams — The Abandoned New England Sportsplex

Posted: May 6, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Manchester CT, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Three Strikes Out, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vernon, writing
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Field of Broken Dreams

The Abandoned New England Sportsplex

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks. I don’t care if I ever get back. So let’s root root root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame. For it’s One. Two. Three Strikes. You’re out, at the old ballgame. The lyrics sound very different when you simply read them, not sing them. I could almost faintly hear that classic tune floating through the air as we walked across the now silent New England Sportsplex. It was a sunny afternoon in early May, the perfect time for a baseball game. But there’s nothing here anymore. What was once a beloved classic song of fun and enjoyment became a haunting tune for this old abandoned ballpark. The laughter of children and the cheers of the crowds long since passed still echoed across the overgrown wasteland. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself, how had it come to this?

It began back in 1994. There was a strong interest in the local community of Vernon, Connecticut, to build a new recreational center. Local softball leagues, both for adults and children, were looking for a place to play in their area. So, with a purchase of two million dollars, construction began on the New England Sportsplex. It was at the time to be the largest softball park in all of New England. It was comprised of four fenced in and lit diamonds, a snack bar, and an on sight bathroom facility. The complex would be able to house an estimated five thousand fans at a time. Since the land was in a non-residential area, the town of Vernon had high hopes for it. The future was bright. But as we all know, nothing ever goes quite according to plan. Due to a steady decline in interest and complications with the nearby wetlands, the park was eventually closed and left abandoned.

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We visited the abandoned New England Sportsplex on a Sunday in early May 2015. We had seen it from the neighboring I-84 multiple times in the past, but had never been able to actually stop and investigate. The old complex is right off the highway, and very visible if you are headed eastbound towards the Mass Pike. Though the fields have become overgrown and lost to the vegetation, the old score boards still peek out from the brush. The forgotten bathroom facility and snack bar are now boarded up and covered with graffiti. A large FOR SALE sign is pointed towards the passing highway, though it is much less noticeable than the abandoned complex standing behind it. There is a patrolled commuter lot and a local park on the same street as the old complex. Chain link fences surround the entire perimeter of the complex, though we did not find a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign posted along the property.

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Walking through the abandoned New England Sportsplex was like something out of a bad dream. Two chained gates stand guard at the entrance of the park. What looks like it used to be the old parking lot is still sitting out front. The main road through the complex is also still intact, though it is slowly crumbling due to its lack of care. Each scoreboard from all four diamonds is still standing, and they each appear to be in relatively good shape. The diamonds themselves, however, are completely overgrown with brush and weeds. We had hoped to find a few bases, maybe even a pitching mound, lost in the undergrowth. But we had no such luck. Curiously enough, all of the cement dugouts from each field are also still intact. We found various items inside them, including a turned over picnic table. The bathroom facility and snack bar are both heavily boarded up. There was no way inside without breaking in.

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Tom Hanks famously said in A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying in baseball.” But I believe there must’ve been at least a few teary eyes in the house when this place closed. In the immortal Kevin Costner classic Field of Dreams they say, “If you build it, he will come.” But nothing came off this failed establishment. Over the years, corporations and town committees have fought over the land. Since it is in plain view of the highway and right next to the on/off ramp, the land has always been a desirable location to build a large super store. It was almost a done deal with Home Depot a few years ago, but nothing has ever come of it. The land still sits empty and abandoned. There are no more good times. There are no more home runs. There are no more peanuts and crackerjacks. Because in life, just like baseball, its one. Two. Three strikes. You’re out.

Everything Must Go

Visiting Manchester’s Abandoned Car Dealership

Written by: Sean L

Photographs by: Amanda H

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   Good credit? Bad credit? No credit? We finance everyone! Zero money down, zero percent financing, zero hassle! Get approved today! Everything must go! Come on down! Yeah, car dealerships are seemingly everywhere today. These lines are recognized by just about everyone, because they are something that we are all familiar with. It’s impossible to avoid. We hear about them constantly on the radio. Their advertisements invade our favorite television shows. Their giant billboards decorate our highways. Most car dealerships today are family run, seemingly age old dynasties. They are empires, ruling over the world of used cars with an iron fist. But what happens when these empires inevitably crumble? What happens when there aren’t any more customers, or cars to sell? What happens to the giant inflatable gorilla and all the tacky promotional stuff that these dealerships use? It all fades away. Like a dying tree, these places fold up, and their ashes are cast to the four winds, leaving nothing but empty lots and broken dreams.

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We visited one of these fallen empires during the early days of 2015. Formally known as “Family Auto of Manchester,” this former dealership was open for about twenty years. Located along Main Street, Manchester, the dealership was in a pretty decent location. There are, however, much larger dealerships in the area that caused competition. It went out of business about a year ago. From what we could find in our research, the place was not very well liked by its customers. We found one scathing review on Google Plus condemning the dealership for its unprofessionalism, poor service, and disrespect for its female customers. Perhaps things like this had something to do with its downfall. I can tell you that ironically, I shopped for a car here once when I was sixteen. It was an Acura Integra. Though I saw no real issues with the place, I didn’t end up buying the car because I was just too tall for it. Seven years later, I returned to this place, though it is now abandoned.

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“Family Auto of Manchester” is located right on Main Street, Manchester. Though it is not nearly as trafficked of a road as others in Manchester, it is still a pretty busy area. It is right next to a heavily used gas station and a few small businesses. It is also right down the street from a Walgreens and the lovable local watering hole The Main Pub. Funny enough, there are also several auto repair shops located very closely to the abandoned dealership. From what we had gathered, lots of people parked their cars at the empty lot when they could not find street parking. Whether this is legal or not remains to be seen. So for our investigation, we simply drove up and parked alongside the abandoned dealership. Luckily, this was all before we had piles of snow on the ground. The lot itself was in really bad shape. There are pot holes everywhere, and cracks ripple through the pavement like a spider web. Thick yellow grass protrudes from the cracks here and there. We also found piles of leaves and a few tires scattered around the lot.

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The building itself is in moderately good shape. Though the paint is now fading and aging, the building was clearly never a very good color. It’s rather bland tan paintjob is now accented with a decaying brown. Only one or two of the windows have been broken, and there appears to be no structural damage. The walls, however, are absolutely coated in graffiti and gang signs. It’s everywhere; on the walls, on the windows, on the pavement. The place is definitely a hot spot for teenagers and delinquents who have nothing better to do with their time. Along the outer windows, there are still brightly colored and worded signs offering hassle free financing and credit approval. Old wiring and air conditioning units still cling the walls, though they have been devoid of power for some time now. Attached to the building is the garage. Clearly some sort of animal is living in here, as we found evidence of it and because there is a perfectly sized hole that has been made in the garage door. This was also the way inside of the dealership.

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It is rather dark and foreboding inside the garage, but inside the dealership is very bright. The outer wall of the building is solid glass, so you can see inside no problem. The inside of the dealership is very eerie. Most of the furniture has been left behind for some reason. Inside the main office, a desk still sits with a once comfy looking chair accompanying it. Out on the sales floor, a large round table and four chairs still sit, waiting for the next deal to be made. Several desks are pushed into the corner, with stacks of old paper and other liter strewn across them. A bunch of old computer parts and car manuals lie in ruin on one of the old tables. There are even a few carpets left behind on the floor. A pair of old school vending machines, the kind where you put in a quarter and get a handful of candy, are back along the wall, though they are now empty and covered in dust. Sadly enough, a forgotten plant still waits for water as it gathers sunshine in the main window.

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Having been here and test driving a car here all those years ago, it was very interesting to return now that the place is abandoned. The lot once full of beat up used cars now lies empty and broken. I stood in the exact spot where I turned down an offer to buy a car here. And today, I am very glad that I did turn down that offer. Not just because of the height issue, but because this place has completely fallen into darkness. To answer my question from earlier, this is what becomes of these once illustrious car dealerships when their empires finally crumble. There are no more radio ads, no more tacky gimmicks, and no more used cars. They simply lie in ruin, waiting for a day that will probably never come. Though it has long since gone under, “Family Auto of Manchester” still haunts the main street of this busy little town. And even though its signs still beckon eager car shoppers to enter its gates with the temptation of financing, you won’t find any obnoxious salesmen or tacky decorations here. Everything is gone.

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