Posts Tagged ‘Napatree Point’

The Shores of Despair

New England’s Abandoned Coastal Buildings

Written by: Sean L

Photos by: Amanda H

Few natural forces of this planet have been as influential on mankind’s history as the sea. It is a place where many have gone in search of life, but some found only death. It is home to many different types of life. Mammals, birds, fish, reptiles all thrive off of the nourishment that the sea provides. Mankind is no exception. Throughout our existence, we have built our homes and constructed our civilizations around the life force of the ocean. From its waters, we have found food, water, recreation, inspiration, and even love. The hearts of empires, such as New York City, London, Tokyo, Rio de Janiero, have all thrived over centuries along the shores of the ocean. It provides us with life, but also fascination. But sadly, nothing lasts forever. Over the years, many of these empires have fallen to the sands of time. We have explored many abandoned coastal buildings over the years. Some were used for war, others were used for vacationing. Though these places have long since been left behind, they remain as haunting and as enchanting as the sea itself. Here are our favorite abandoned buildings along the New England coastline.

#1: Seaside Sanatorium, Waterford, Connecticut

While the state of Connecticut is home to several notorious abandoned medical facilities, Seaside Sanatorium is one of the more picturesque locations. The building itself was designed by the famous architect Cass Gilbert, the same man responsible for 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 mentally handicapped. Sadly, the facility was home to several incidents of violent treatment of patients in the early 1990’s which would ultimately cause its demise. The grounds now sit abandoned, though they can be legally walked as a recreation area. The grounds come to life during the summer, as dozens of beachgoers flock to the shores. During the winter, it remains cold and lonely. Though the building is rather easy to get into, it is very unsafe and unstable inside. The grounds are also patrolled by a private security company around the clock. Note that you don’t have to get inside to truly appreciate the wonders of this forgotten place.

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#2: Fort Mansfield, Westerly, Rhode Island

The ruins of Fort Mansfield are located at the very edge of Napatree Point in village of Watch Hill. The United States military first purchased the property in 1898, as part of a new program to install artillery batteries all along the coast of New England. The fort was officially commissioned in 1902. However, during the war games of the early 1900’s, a fatal flaw was discovered in the fort’s design. The guns of the fort would be unable to repel a head-on assault from the sea, and it would be an easy target for an amphibious assault. Thus, the fort was decommissioned from active status in 1909. Over the years, the garrison of the fortress slowly dwindled as the military lost all interest and faith in it. The land was finally sold back to the town of Westerly in 1928. The fortress has remained abandoned ever since. The few buildings that once housed soldiers and equipment were demolished years ago. But the concrete structure of the fort still stands, lost amongst the vegetation of Napatree Point. During the summer, this area is a bird sanctuary. It is relatively quiet throughout the other seasons. The fortress is completely legal to visit, if you can find it.

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#3: Bates Motel, Truro, Massachusetts

Between the luxurious hotels and extravagant summer homes of Cape Cod lies a place that would make even Psycho creator and horror master Alfred Hitchcock himself uneasy. To this day, we have found very little information at all on the Bates Motel. We cannot even be positive if that is its real name. It does in fact bear a striking resemblance to the fabled motel of the film Psycho and its contemporary series Bates Motel. From what we have gathered, the motel has been abandoned for at least twenty years after an alleged family legal dispute. It has been the sight of many alleged hauntings, and it is smack dab in the middle of a very rich neighborhood. What we can tell you is that Bates Motel is located in the small town of Truro, Massachusetts. It is the second to last town on the furthest corner of Cape Cod, just slightly south of the beloved and lively Provincetown. The motel is privately owned, and NO TRESPASSING signs are clearly visible. All of the rooms are padlocked. Visit at your own risk. It may not have any connection with the movie legend, but the real Bates Motel is definitely just as creepy.

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#4: Fort Wetherill, Jamestown, Rhode Island

Located in the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill is a mere stone’s throw away from the neighboring town of Newport. The history of the site dates back to the early 18th century. To protect the Narragansett Bay area, Fort Dumpling was built by British forces. After the expulsion, Fort Wetherill was constructed in its place by the American military a mere hundred years later in 1899. As a protector for the wealthy city of the New England mainland, Fort Wetherill proved to be very active during both World Wars as an artillery placement and troop station. Another primary task of the fort was to oversee the minefields erected during World War II. When the conflict ended, Fort Wetherill was decommissioned in 1946. It was then left abandoned for many years. Fortunately, the grounds were reacquired by the State of Rhode Island in the year of 1972. Due to its large granite cliffs and excellent view of the ocean, the grounds were commissioned as a state park. It is currently enjoyed today by many for sailing, fishing, and other water sports. The fortress, however, still stands, and is completely legal to visit. Sadly, it is also heavily enjoyed by the local teenagers for partying, vandalism, and destruction.

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Fortress of Solitude – The Abandoned Fort Mansfield

Posted: March 19, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Closed, darkness, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, Napatree Point, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, Stories, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Fortress of Solitude

The Abandoned Fort Mansfield

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

   The waves of the ocean crash up against the sandy shore. Fierce gusts of wind shriek through the tall sea grass. Packs of white gulls soar overhead, cackling and cawing to each other. The sun shines powerful and radiant in the sky. The deep Atlantic water is an enchanting shade of bright blue. This is Napatree Point, Rhode Island. And somewhere, lost in the vegetation of this place, lays an abandoned military fortress. The ramparts crumble as they slowly succumb to the barrage of time. Dark and empty corridors are haunted by the ghosts of the past. What once served as the first defense of the American homeland now lies in total silence. This is Fort Mansfield, forgotten by some and a legend to others. Unlike one of the other famous abandoned military forts in Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill (see our write-up here), this former coastal artillery instillation has been all but lost to the white sands of Napatree Point. Located in the village of Watch Hill, Fort Mansfield was one of our most difficult treks, but also one of our most rewarding discoveries.

Fort Mansfield has called Napatree Point home since its creation in the early twentieth century. The point is a small piece of land branching out from the town of Watch Hill. The United States military first purchased the property in 1898, as part of a new program to install artillery batteries all along the coast of New England. Though it may not have as rich of a history as Fort Wetherill, Mansfield does have a much sadder story than its legendary cousin. The fort was officially commissioned in 1902. However, during the war games of the early 1900’s, a fatal flaw was discovered in the fort’s design. The guns of the fort would be unable to repel a head-on assault from the sea, and it would be an easy target for an amphibious assault. Thus, the fort was decommissioned from active status in 1909. Over the years, the garrison of the fortress slowly dwindled as the military lost all interest and faith in it. The land was finally sold back to the town of Watch Hill in 1928. The fortress has remained abandoned ever since.

Having heard whispers of Fort Mansfield in the past without ever finding much information about it, we decided to go searching for it during the fall of 2014. As a burrow of the town of Westerly, Watch Hill is quite the summer hotspot, but it goes quiet during the offseason. Napatree Point is perfectly legal to walk, except for the handful of beachside bungalows at the very beginning. There is a nice little parking lot that is free to park at right in the middle of downtown Watch Hill. After parking, we began our walk down the point. There is beach on either side of the point, with thick vegetation in the middle. This is also a bird sanctuary during the summer nesting season. It is roughly a little over a mile to the very tip of the point. It is also fiercely windy due to the proximity to the ocean. The early stages of the point are decently trafficked by beachgoers, but the end of the point is deserted. After a long time combing through the point’s thick grass, we finally came upon the abandoned fortress.

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The fortress is comprised of two sections: one part contains the first two artillery instillations and the second section is a brief walk away containing the third instillation. There were once a few buildings here, but they have long since been demolished. The first section is a pretty good size. Though it is not as covered in graffiti as Fort Wetherill, Fort Mansfield is still pretty vandalized. Lots of tagging covers the walls, and there is plenty of liter down in the lower tunnels. The local fire department had put up some fencing around the outer walls of the fort to prevent visitors from getting in, but they are quite easily bypassed via a few still functioning ladders and former staircases. Several metal slabs have also been placed over certain points. Except for the blistering gusts of wind, this place is completely silent. There are several entrance points down to the lower levels. Since the front walls have been knocked out, there is a decent amount of light down here. The floor is also completely flooded in certain rooms from years of rain and high tides.

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The second section of the fort is a brief walk down an overgrown path. It sits on the very edge of Napatree Point, giving an excellent view of the Rhode Island coastline. It is much smaller than the first section of the fort, and is much more difficult to see. Tall sea grass and vegetation keep it very well hidden. The graffiti here is actually much more light hearted than the first section. At the very top of the fort, there are a couple of small staircases leading up to what must have once been look out posts. They provide excellent cover from the merciless wind. Unlike the first section, there are no barricades or fences to deter visitors here. Down to the lower levels, there are several large empty rooms. They are in complete darkness, yet they are completely empty save for the trash of vandals. Someone, or something, is most definitely living here. While exploring the dark passages of the lower levels, we heard something moving around in the tunnels. We didn’t stick around to find out what it was.

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Though it is a bit of a trek and can be difficult to find if you don’t know where to look, Fort Mansfield is definitely worth a visit. Unlike the legendary Fort Wetherill, this abandoned base is not home for teenage destruction and vandalism. Because of its remote location, the fort is only enjoyed by those who are willing to make the journey. The fierce winds and the hot sand make it a tough trek, but the fort is more than worth it. While the coastal town around it continues to grow and flourish, Fort Mansfield continues to stray out of thought and time. It is the ruins of a fortress that never got to be. Its run as a coastal artillery unit was cut tragically short by a fatal flaw. Now the land weeps, haunted by a purpose that it never got to fulfill. It is truly a fortress of solitude; quiet and alone, but still standing guard over its former territory.

View on the walk back