Posts Tagged ‘out of bussiness’

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

Down Memory Lane

Exploring the Abandoned Marlborough Commons

By Sean and Amanda

I grew up in the town of Marlborough, living there for over twenty years. As a child, it felt like there was no better place in the world to grow up. The typical Saturday would start off by getting our coffee and donuts at Cavalieri’s Bakery. Then we would do our grocery shopping at Pat’s Market. A short drive down the road, we would have lunch at Carilli’s Café. We would do some gift shopping and beanie baby hunting at the fabled Marlborough Barn. We would have dinner at the Marlborough Tavern. Then we’d close out the day with some live music at Pine Needle’s. That was life as a kid in Marlborough, Connecticut. Today? All of that is gone. All of the aforementioned establishments have gone out of business over the last fifteen years. The town that I once knew and loved is no more.

Some places, like Cavalieri’s Bakery and the Marlborough Barn, eventually came under new ownership and re-opened under different names. Pine Needle’s became our town’s resident Dunkin Donuts. The Marlborough Tavern and Pat’s Market still sit empty after several failed re-openings, just waiting for the next entrepreneur to take a chance on the property. But one structure of the town has completely gone under: The Marlborough Commons. Sitting right beside the entrance and exit to Route 2, The Marlborough Commons was a two-floor multi business establishment. Included in their parking lot was Carilli’s Café. This place has been closed for almost a decade. The Marlborough Commons never quite picked up traction economically. Over the years, it limped on with multiple businesses coming and going before finally succumbing to defeat. The gates to the Marlborough Commons are now closed, and a large “FOR SALE” sign now sits out front.

I used to drive by the abandoned Marlborough Commons all the time. I have always wanted to conduct an investigation for the website here. I have never had the opportunity to do any urban exploring within my hometown. After doing some research and asking around town, I was not able to turn up much of any information on the site. There is a posting online listing the property as for sale though. It seems like the place is just a bad memory that this town is trying to forget. There have been a lot of talks over the years about a grocery chain possibly purchasing the grounds and building a new store there. Nothing has ever come of these talks, allegedly due to the poor location and the competition from the neighboring “Stop and Shop” just a few miles down the road in East Hampton.

On a cold December day, we decided to pay The Marlborough Commons a visit. Due to its close proximity to the highway Route 2 and sitting right along the busy Route 66, getting into the Marlborough Commons was a little difficult. There are literally dozens of cars driving by every minute. The local police also have been known to use the lot of the Marlborough Commons to catch speeders. So we had to be careful. The site has always been easy to identify due to the large white sign out front, reading “The Marlborough Commons” in black cursive writing. The sign has sadly begun to fade, and wild vines now grow all over it. The gate to the parking lot is closed and locked, so we were not able to drive directly up the buildings. However there is a small space in front of the gate where a car can easily pull up.

During its heyday, the main building of the Marlborough Commons was home to at least two businesses. There was the law office of Erik S. Young, a local attorney. The signs bearing his name can still be seen. Beside that was the “Memory Lane” scrapbooking store, its white sign and pink wallpaper still beckoning people to come in. There may have been more businesses operating here when the Marlborough Commons closed, but they must’ve taken their signs because these were the only two we could identify. The front of the building is in very good shape. Aside from the cracking pavement and slowly encroaching vines, the Marlborough Commons looks like it could still be in operation. There are no broken windows, graffiti, or liter visible anywhere. This could most likely be attributed to the building’s close proximity to a highly trafficked and policed road.IMG_3103

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The back of the building is a totally different story though. Many of the windows have been smashed. The doors are all boarded up. The paint is rapidly peeling. From the road, the Marlborough Commons looks like it’s still alive. But from the back, it looks ghastly and clearly abandoned. Inside, the buildings have been completely cleared out. All furniture and other items were most likely removed when they went out business, leaving the insides just a barren wasteland. Aside from some liter, it is completely empty from room to room. Farther down the lot was Carilli’s Café. The front of this former restaurant is now completely overgrown with plant life. Every single window and door has been crudely boarded up with cheap plywood. It has clearly suffered from vandalism in the past, as this place was sewn up very tightly with no way in without breaking in.

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While it was nice to take a stroll down memory lane by revisiting the Marlborough Commons, seeing this former corner stone of the town of Marlborough in this state of disrepair was sad indeed. This place was once a busy and bustling part of the community, where people could get some legal counseling, stock up on art supplies, or grab lunch with some friends at Carilli’s Café. Now, it is merely a hollow shell. It has become one of the many great local businesses to have fallen under the crushing weight of the world. Who knows what the future holds for this place. Maybe someday businesses will return, but they most likely won’t. The rest of the town is steadily moving on without it. The Marlborough Commons now waits in disrepair, a grim reminder to the people of Marlborough what our town was once like.

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Out of Business

The Abandoned Buildings of Route 85

 By: Sean and Amanda

Growing up in the Hebron area, I had driven down and along Route 85 for as long as I can remember. It is a stretch of road that we would always take to get from Hebron to Colchester or vice versa. It could be busy, at times. But other times it felt like any other road, running between a few sleepy little Connecticut towns a lot of people have never heard of. But this road is more than meets the eye. Much like most towns in the world, the communities along Route 85 have not gone unscathed from economic downturn. Over the years, we have seen several well-known and beloved businesses fall under hard times. Owners of these establishments closed up shop, and the buildings themselves were left at the mercy of the elements. On a cold November day, we decided to pay a visit to a few of these forgotten places.

Commonly used as a route for commuters and travelers between the cities of Hartford and New London, Route 85 is a state highway. Though we have often traveled it on our adventures to get to and from Hebron or Colchester, it actually runs from the northern town of Bolton all the way south to the city of New London. Originally established during the nineteenth century, Route 85 has been a commonly used highway in the state of Connecticut. It has had an assortment of different names over the last hundred or so years, but was officially christened Route 85 during 1932. Though it is kind of a small town road, Route 85 has junctions to major highways including I-95, I-384, and US-44. We were on our way to visit three abandoned buildings located along the more rural part of the route between Hebron and Colchester.

On our trip to Route 85, we parked at the local lot for the Airline Trail State Park. Arguably the biggest and most popular walking site in Connecticut, the trail runs all over the state. We have used it several times during our investigations. Ironically, it was a formerly abandoned railway track that was acquired by the state and turned into hiking trails. The three buildings that we were investigating that day were all within a short walk from each other. They included a former mechanic’s garage, an abandoned antique warehouse, and the beloved Route 85 Lumber yard. Believe it or not, the fabled and familiar site of Camp Connecticut was merely a few miles from us. See our write up on the legendary site here. Since it was a weekend, there was heavy traffic both on the trail and Route 85 itself.

The first place that we visited was the abandoned garage. Directly across from the Airline Trail State Park parking lot, this building was the oldest of the three and in the greatest state of disrepair. The roof had completely caved in over half of the building, and the entire back wall had been demolished on the other half. Most of the windows had been smashed and there was quite a bit of liter. It was only one floor. There was a section that appeared to be the office and then three garage bays. Though there was no recognizable sign left to distinguish the name of this former business, we did find a few old racing team signs on the ground. Lots of old tires, broken glass, and even an old sink were strewn about outside of the garage. Inside, we found quite a bit of evidence that some sort of large animal, more than likely a pack of stray dogs, has been living inside.

The second place that we visited was a quick walk down the road. It was formerly used as a warehouse antique business. A place that my parents used to shop at, it had only been abandoned for the last fifteen years or so. Since the building was made of brick, it was in relatively good shape aside from the forest of vines and vegetation growing around its sides. Though the one of the side doors was completely missing, most of the windows were still intact. Inside, the warehouse was in remarkably good shape. It was four floors and a basement, each floor has a solid metal staircase leading up to the next. A fire escape was also on the fourth floor. We also found what appeared to be evidence of people still living inside. Even though Hebron is not known for its homeless population, we found a few makeshift beds and a still functioning sink. This was not surprising due to the good condition of the inside, but it was only the second time we have ever found people to still be living in an abandoned place. For this reason, we did not stay very long

Our third and final stop for our investigation was Route 85 Lumber. One of the longest running and most memorable small businesses in the town of Hebron, Route 85 Lumber were known to employ a lot of students from the nearby high school and donate materials for local Eagle Scout projects. It sadly went out of business in 2009. Though it is heavily protected, it now sits empty along Route 85. The office is guarded by security cameras and the doors are all heavily locked up. The lumber yard itself is surrounded by a very tall chain link fence with barbed wire around the top, keeping out any unwanted visitors. Though there was not much to see here, we did see a “For Sale” sign out front with a “Sold” sign placed below it. This was potentially good news for this former small business, as it may become the first abandoned place we have visited to come back.

It is good to see that there is hope for one of these sites. We would like to see it make a comeback. The other two, however, may simply be too far gone. They now serve a different purpose; homes to strays and squatters. Though they were once flourishing businesses, many see them now as nothing more than big eyesores. These three sites now sit alone, silently watching the busy traffic of Route 85 pass them by.