Posts Tagged ‘Summer 2021’

Time Flies – The Abandoned Leicester Airport

Posted: August 25, 2021 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Airport, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Highway, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Pennsylvania, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Restaurant, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Massachusetts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, New Hampshire, New York, overgrown, Pennsylvania, photography, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
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Time Flies

The Abandoned Leicester Airport

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Is it August already? Shit. Last time I checked summer had just started. And now it’s about to end. How did we get here? How did things end up like this? Where are we heading? Who knows anymore. As they say, time flies. When I was a boy, that was the title of my favorite book: Time Flies. It was only a few pages long and there were no words. It was quite large for a book, probably meant for teachers showing it to their wide-eyed students during circle time. The story followed a small bird that flies into a museum late at night through an open window. The bird soars through the large auditoriums past many different skeletons of dinosaurs long since passed. But as the bird flies by, these dinosaurs all slowly come back to life. One by one. It is as if the bird is flying back in time. Some try to eat the bird. Others just marvel at the miracle of being alive. But as the bird flies on, the dinosaurs each begin to return to their skeletal forms. And before you know it, the sun has risen and the museum has returned to normal. Almost like none of it ever happened. That’s how I feel sometimes when we go exploring. For a brief moment in time, it feels like these skeletal abandoned places come back to life. We get a glimpse as to what things were once like for them. But then it all passes like a fleeting shadow. And all things return to their bitter state.

Our subject for the final month of summer 2021 is the abandoned Leicester Airport. A reader tipped us off about this place a few months ago, suggesting that we check it out soon as the buildings were slowly collapsing. Located in Leicester, Massachusetts, this was a privately owned airport that was in operation between 1940 and 1970. There were three airfields in operation around the area at this time, including Oxford and Worcester. It was used both as a commercial and personal airfield. Features included a unique dual runway system, a single hangar bay, and a private office building for airport staff. I have yet to find a reason as to why the airport was shuttered. I know we have quite a few fans that live in the area, so if anyone reading this would like to share some info/stories we’d love to hear them. But my guess is that being in such close proximity to two other airfields, only one of which is still in operation today, contributed to it’s downfall. From what I’ve been able to find out online, the grounds almost came back to life a few times after its closure. The facility was re-opened and rebranded as a bar at least once over the years. And while all stories I’ve heard about it have been positive, it was not meant to be. And sooner or later, these establishments closed up shop as well. Again, if anyone has any stories, please do share.

We have been on a quest this year. Ever since I created our “Locations by State” page, which you should definitely check out, I noticed how lopsided our reporting was. We had plenty of locations in Connecticut, but not so much in our neighboring states. And so, we’ve been trying to get out and about as much as possible. This month, we once again found ourselves in Massachusetts. I’ve spent a lot of time up here this year working on film stuff. And I can honestly say at this point that we’ve covered damn near every inch of the southern part of the state. We made our trip up to Leicester on a grey Tuesday. We both had the day off, and it’s always best to go exploring during the week if you can. There’s much less people around, you see? It was a quiet ride up. We’ve been hitting a lot of places in Worcester County recently. And it can be a really underrated area during this time of year. Pulling up to the abandoned airport was a little challenging. The old runway/parking lot is no longer accessible by car. So you just kind of have to squeeze your ride onto a small bumpy pull-off. Luckily the neighborhood is nice and chill. Nobody was around or seemed to be bothered by us. And the road was not very heavily trafficked. We took a quick look around, made sure the coast was clear, and then made our way inside of the abandoned airport.

Remember how one of our readers tipped us off about this place? Saying how it was collapsing? Well, friends, they were absolutely right. There is not too much of the abandoned Leicester Airport left to see. We walked as much of the old runway as we could. But the pavement is quite cracked and uneven. It runs long and deep into the woods, before dead-ending at some local farmland. Parking spaces, which must’ve been from the airfield’s days as bar, have also been painted all over the place towards the front. An old wooden sign still stands by the street, but we couldn’t quite make out the name on it. The main hangar has almost completely caved in on its self. A bit of it still stands, but I wouldn’t recommend going inside. The doors and windows are full of dust and cobwebs. The floor is rickety and shoddy. Ancient shelving rusts into oblivion. Pieces of roofing and debris now create a total gridlock amongst the abandoned grounds. It is near impassible. All kinds of junk and old machinery can be found amongst the rubble. The office building has been almost completely swallowed up by vines and vegetation. Yet it still holds a few relics within its walls. Everything reminded me very much of Centralia, Pennsylvania. You know, the real life Silent Hill. And though the abandoned airport was as quiet as a tomb, it looks like it had just been blown to Hell.

Like I said earlier, it’s hard to believe it’s August already. Why is it that summer always goes by so fast? It felt like just yesterday school was out and the good times were in. But in the blink of an eye, everything changes. Pretty soon we’ll be beginning our slow decent into the Fall. And before you know it, 2021 will be over and another year will be gone. I honestly would not recommend the abandoned Leicester Airport for a visit. I’m glad we got to see it, but the property just changes too fast. It’s too vulnerable. Things just keep collapsing and falling apart. For all I know, the whole place could be gone by now. Walking through it’s long forgotten grounds was like a brisk walk through this place’s past. Relics from each of it’s many different eras still stand as grim reminders. The old runway still stands, though it eventually gives way to a parking lot. A crumbling hangar stands now as nothing more than a twisted jigsaw puzzle of rubble. A wooden bar signs still hangs as a greeting, though it has been swallowed up by the rage of the forest. I am once again reminded of the small bird from the children’s book. There are still glimpses of what this place once was. But they are merely passing shadows. The past is gone. Reality is lost. The sands of the hourglass cannot be stopped. For as they say, time sure does fly. And if you are not careful, it just might take off without you.

I’m Not Okay

The Garden of Sweet Remembrance

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I want to talk about something important today. Yeah, I know. This is supposed to be a blog about abandoned places and urban exploring. That’s what you all come here to read about. But this is also a personal blog. I try to share my experiences and life lessons with anyone who cares to listen. If reading my words was enough to help just one person, that’s all I’ve ever wanted. We’ve had a lot of readers reach out over the last year telling us how much our work means to them. And there is no greater compliment to us than that. Especially considering how rough last year was. And so today’s piece is going to be a little different. I get one of these a year, so please bare with me. If this isn’t for you, I won’t be offended if you stop reading or unsubscribe. You have that right. I want to talk today about mental health. It’s something that I personally have struggled with for a long time. And I know that a lot of us here feel the same way. I advocate for mental health awareness whenever I can. We’ve all either had our issues with mental health or know someone who does. It’s never easy to talk about. Sometimes it can be down right terrifying. No matter how hard we try, there will always be this stigma around mental health. We’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years, but some still have a hard time accepting that it’s okay to not be okay.

And so allow me to introduce our July investigation: The Garden of Sweet Remembrance. Located in the town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, this place was once the lavish home of one of the area’s most prominent businessmen. Matthew J. Whittall was the owner of the property, and christened it Juniper Hall. There was a vast estate to behold, but the garden was the true jewel in the crown. Mr. Whittall and his wife were so very proud of their garden that they invited all manners of the public to tour it whenever they pleased. But like the blooming flowers, nothing lasts forever. The proprietor and founder passed away in 1929. The garden’s pergola was dedicated to him by his widow and christened the name “The Garden of Sweet Remembrance.” Following Mr. Whittall’s passing, the mansion changed hands several times before finally being demolished after years of abandonment. All that remains of this once lavish wonderland are the old pergola and the once flourishing garden. The property remained this way for many years. The weeds and vines grew wild, overtaking this once sacred place. But it was never truly forgotten. A small movement grew and grew to eventually restore the property and garden to their former glory. Now, what remains of the property has been revived and resides in Shrewsbury’s Prospect Park.

This, once again, was my birthday investigation. I always try to explore something on my birthday. It’s just a great way to spend the day away from the world with my partner Lassie. Doing what we love. I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to find at The Garden of Sweet Remembrance. I had received a tip about it a few months ago, but found conflicting information on the web. The land had been lost for a long time. And though the movement dedicated to it’s upkeep has grown over the years, vandalism has still continued to scar the face of the iconic pergola. So we decided to go take a look. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. We usually NEVER go exploring on Saturdays (too many people out and about) but, it was my birthday after all. So, what the Hell, right? We arrived at Prospect Park as the only visitors. There is still a grand stone archway at the entrance with a brand new sign. There are trail maps and well marked paths throughout the grounds. The garden itself is a relatively short walk down one of these paths. All throughout the woods, there are old relics marking what this park once was. Old fire hydrants rust into oblivion. Ghostly power poles blend in amongst the fading trees. And there is a certain mystique in the air here. But once you arrive at the garden, this slightly mystical place truly comes back to life.

I haven’t used the word “abandoned” in the title or tags of this article for a reason. Because it’s clearly not. The garden itself is truly alive and well. Flowers and all kinds of plant life burst through the fertile soil. It has also become a collection point for painted rocks from people all across New England. The pergola, on the other hand, stands at the far back of the garden. It’s presence looms like a great shadow of both remembrance and sorrow. The wooden roof has collapsed all together. The blue sky floods in like a ship taking on water. The foundation crumbles slightly, yet never wavers. Graffiti adorns the outer shell, but the words “GARDEN OF SWEET REMEMBRANCE” still stand strong. But what makes this place so special are the names. On certain pillars of the pergola, and some of the painted rocks, the names of people have been painted. Out of respect for the families, I will not name these names here. But what I can tell you is that each of these names are victims of suicide. Most were just teenagers. We even found a bundle of old roses left beside one of the names. This garden has clearly once again found it’s home as a place of remembrance. It brought about a mix of both sadness and spirituality seeing them. It shows that no matter what, it is the job of those of us left behind to carry on the memory of those we’ve lost.

Like I said in my introduction, this place is not going to be for everyone. It isn’t one that we usually cover and was not what we were expecting at all. But honestly, I am happy to be proven wrong. And while this post goes against most of what we post here, I would highly recommend the Garden of Sweet Remembrance to all of our readers. Not for adventure or thrill-seeking. But for reflection. It really is a beautiful place. Seeing the names on the walls of the pergola and on the painted rocks was a very moving experience. I lost one close friend to suicide five years ago this summer. His name was Troy. He was an actor like me. And I think about him everyday. It’s always hard to process losing someone like that. Much like these beautiful flowers, we are all slowly fading away. That’s why we always have to remember to keep ourselves well and to keep those we’ve lost in our memories. The Garden of Sweet Remembrance’s history reminded me a lot of the struggles we all go through everyday. There were good times. There were bad times. There were times where all hope seemed to be lost. But with a little bit of help, this place came back to life. And always remember, it’s okay to not be okay. Never be afraid to ask for a little help. If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, please check out the list below.

Find a Therapist, Psychologist, Counselor – http://www.psychologytoday.com/therapists

Suicide Prevention Hotline – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

The Trevor Project – http://www.thetrevorproject.org

Mental Health America – http://www.mhanational.org