Posts Tagged ‘Sunrise’

Sunset on Sunrise

Remembering Sunrise Resort – Part III

“Once more into the fray. Into the last great fight I shall ever know.

Live and die on this day. Live and die on this day.”

The Grey (2011)

This will be our final installment on the now fabled Sunrise Resort. We have covered our discovery of the resort in the first issue, followed by our investigation of the resort in our second. This final issue will cover our final visit to the grounds, after they had been demolished by the State of Connecticut. We hope that you have learned a thing or two about this place, and why it is important to us. It may be long gone, but it will live forever in the photos that we have taken and the stories that we tell about it. Sunrise Resort was loved by the people of Connecticut for many years. Following her demise, she was left abandoned for over half a decade. Finally, she was demolished by her owners leaving nothing but the memories and the tattered remains of what once was.

Spanning over 140 acres, Sunrise Resort was sold to the State of Connecticut for 2 million dollars after going out of business in 2008. When the state failed to act on reusing/redeveloping the resort, the grounds’ 82 buildings slowly fell into disrepair and became derelict. Though they sat empty and decaying for many years, one state lawmaker was determined to do something about it. Connecticut State Representative Melissa Ziobron, a former employee of Sunrise Resort, was the driving force behind the demolition. For many months, her proposition toiled in the state’s offices. Finally, in the summer of 2013, the demolition was approved. Over the next few months, every last deteriorating building was destroyed. The site has since been rechristened as Sunrise State Park. It was not until over a year afterwards that we decided to return to the site, to see what was left to see.

Since we had first discovered the resort in 2012, we watched it closely. We followed Representative Ziobron’s campaign to have the resort demolished. We had even written a script for an apocalyptic short film to be filmed there in the spring of 2013. Plans for this however fell through following the devastation of several nasty snow storms during the winter, which made the grounds completely impassable. Shortly after that, the grounds were designated off limits to visitors as the state prepared for the demolition of the resort, which would last throughout the summer of 2013. It was later reopened during the fall of that year. In the summer of 2014, we finally decided to make our return to the grounds. Almost exactly two years after we first discovered this abandoned wasteland on a hot summer day, we returned to see what had become of Sunrise Resort.

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At the time we visited the grounds, there was still no visible sign designating the space as Sunrise State Park. We parked our car in the same place that we had parked the last time we had visited the resort, though there is no longer a guard shack to stop cars from pulling up closer. The few buildings at the front of the resort are actually still standing. These buildings are still used by the State of Connecticut for storage. They are heavily padlocked and protected against any intruders, and they still remained as remarkably untouched as we had last seen them two years prior. A few of the buildings have their windows boarded up, some with plywood and others with just cardboard. Though they are looking quite old, they are clearly not abandoned and are the only structures still standing on the grounds.

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We continued down the road further into the resort, though there was no dog following us this time. The large parking lot where school buses used to load and unload visitors is still there, though now it is all dirt and chipped asphalt. From the parking lot, you can see the spot where the old office building and pool used to be. The pool has been completely filled in, and a deep layer of wood chips has been placed on top of it. The office building has been demolished, leaving only a checkered cement foundation that looks like a human chessboard. Farther down the path, we came to where the rows of cabins once stood. Much like the pool, there are just layers of wood chips covering the spots where the structures once stood. Though it had been a long time since we had been here, you can always tell where an old building once stood by the wood chips.

There really wasn’t much to see. Down by the river, everything had been cleared out. Even the old pine tree that stood in front of the dining hall had been removed. The only thing left to distinguish what once was, was the old chimney, still partially standing at the back of the lot. The only other real thing of note here were the sports fields. A few chain link fences had been left up around the baseball diamond, though it is long since overgrown. The tennis courts are still here too, just in very poor shape. We even found the old bocce ball and basketball courts, lost in the weeds where the old children’s center once stood. If you had never seen this place the way it used to be, it would be hard to imagine that is was once a fun filled resort. But with our daylight dying, we decided it was time to call it a day. We bid farewell to Sunrise State Park, as the sun began to set.

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We all have different feelings when we see the sunset. Some of us see the end of the day. Others see the dawning of a new tomorrow. But in a strange way, we can all agree on one thing about them: they can be indescribably beautiful. Not just to the eye, but to the heart. Because a sunset always gives way to sunrise, the dawning of a new day and the chance for a new beginning. That is what we hope that this place has. The sun may have set on Sunrise Resort, but there is glimmer of hope here. Though the resort is long gone, the grounds are still enjoyed. Hikers, fishermen, and dog walkers now heavily frequent the area. The large abandoned buildings have given way to recreational space. The painful sorrow of seeing this doomed summer dream world has passed. And in a place where darkness once ruled, there is finally sunlight for Sunrise.

Abandon All Hope

Remembering Sunrise Resort – Part: II

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Much like the city of Pripyiat, the home to the workers and families of the Chernobyl tragedy, Sunrise Resort was literally abandoned overnight. However, it was not because of a nuclear disaster. Sunrise Resort, which had stood for decades, had become a thing of the past. Over the years, attendance to the once popular vacation destination steadily declined. When it finally went under, the owners were able to sell the land to the state of Connecticut, who hoped to use the grounds as a camp for the disabled. Unfortunately, this never happened. Over the years, Sunrise Resort stood empty and alone, nothing more than a sad afterthought. Because the land had been purchased by the state, it was designated a state park. This created a massive legal loophole, making this large abandoned resort completely legal to visit.

Our return to Sunrise Resort came just two days after our initial discovery. We arrived early in the morning, intent of covering every inch of the property. Luckily, the sun was out and the weather was fair. We drove directly up to the resort this time, rather than walking in. The gates from the guard shack at the front were still closed, so we parked there. At the very front of the property, two large older buildings stand. They have large padlocks on them, and are used by the state for storage. They are the only buildings on the property to still be in use and that have been untouched by vandals. Beside them stand the old dining hall. Windows have been smashed, furniture has been removed, and the old fireplace is now full of trash. A road connects the entire camp together. A large stray dog accompanied us as we began our descent into the wasteland.

Our first stop was the main office. I first walked down these steps was I was in the sixth grade. I was on a class wide picnic, and this place was full of people having fun. I did not return until I was twenty one years old. There weren’t any more people, and the fun times were long gone. The glass doors to the office were smashed, littering the ground with large chunks of broken glass. Inside the office, papers and all kinds of debris coat the floor. We found several first aid kits that had been torn apart, though curiously only the syringes were missing. There were also gaping holes in the walls, with all of the buildings copper wirings torn out by scavengers. This was a common trait throughout the resort, as we found almost every building suffered this fate. On the wall, in red crayon, was written: “No God. No Joy.”

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Beside the main office stood the old pool. The last time I saw this pool, it was full of water and happy children enjoying the vacation. Now, it lies empty. The water and swimmers are long gone, with the pool now only holding nothing but graffiti and debris. This ranged from tree branches, garbage bags, and even a roller chair. The pool had a window on the deep end, where people could watch swimmers from. We moved on into the pool house to reach this window. Lockers had been ripped open. Walls had been trashed. Even a few bathing suits had been left behind. We then reached the room with the window looking into the pool. A large colorful octopus was painted on the wall.

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Moving past the pool, we found the cabins. Sunrise Resort offered all kinds of camping, and cabin camping was very popular. Most of these cabins still stood untouched. The clean sheets were still waiting for the next guests, neatly folded atop the beds. The bathrooms were all still fully stocked. Notes indicating checkout time were still there. Past the cabins, we explored “The Frog.” This was the restaurant of the resort. The tables were all neatly stacked up in one corner. A bible lay abandoned on the ground. An old tabletop Christmas tree had been knocked over. The run down television set had been smashed. Several vending machines still stood against the back wall, though there was nothing left inside of them. Packets of mustard and ketchup were still sitting in their dispensaries, though they had long since gone bad. We continued down the road, leading us to the banks of the Moodus River.

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Along the river stood a series of cabins. They were each three stories high, and completely ransacked. In one of these cabins, the room at the top floor had been converted into a makeshift sex den with a heavily used mattress and condom wrappers galore. Beside these cabins was the now empty boat house and the dining hall that we had originally seen the other day. After a short lunch in the old gazeebo, we explored this large building. Carpet was ripped up, windows were smashed, and walls were demolished. Against the very back wall stood a fireplace with a sturdy chimney. A few fire logs were still inside. The kitchen was completely dark, but most of the equipment had been gutted. Several empty pavilions stood outside. Rather than taking the rickety staircase we had seen last time, we continued up a different path back into the heart of the resort.

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We passed several more sets of cabins until we came up the children’s area of the resort. It was complete with a small building, where kid’s artwork still hung from the walls. An old overgrown wooden playground stood beside it. A small in-ground pool was at the front of the area, though its water was now stagnant green. An old push car had been unceremoniously dumped into it. A miniature golf course was there as well, though now completely overgrown. At the farthest side of the resort stood the apartments. Two large buildings full of apartments were there: one high-rise and one low-rise. They were totally ransacked by vandals, though a small family of raccoons guarded the basement. Finally, there was the spa. Workout equipment and machines were still there, abandoned overnight just like everything else here.

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With our daylight dying, we decided it was time to head home. We began to head back to the car, bidding farewell to the abandoned Sunrise Resort. Though we didn’t know it at the time, this would be our last goodbye. Stay tuned for Part III next week.

Stay tuned for Remembering Sunrise Resort Part III coming next week!!