Posts Tagged ‘vandalism’

Oubliette – The Abandoned Transient Camp Nepaug

Posted: November 18, 2020 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Castle, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Park, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Prison, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned Summer Camp, Abandoned Tunnel, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Cabin, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Forts, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Oubliette

The Abandoned Transient Camp Nepaug

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s a place that you put people to forget about them. If you get that reference, then we can definitely be friends. It’s been said a thousand times before, and a thousand times again, but this has been a rough year for all of us. You hear it on social media. You hear it on the radio. You’ve heard it on our site. In these divisive times, it’s the one thing that we can all truly agree on. Thousands have lost loved ones. Millions have lost their jobs. We personally have lost two dear friends to cancer. Pardon my french, but fuck cancer. And frankly, fuck 2020. I don’t usually curse on this site, but I think it’s necessary this time. The world has changed forever, and sadly things will probably never go back to the way they used to be. This is a year that we’d all just like to forget. And as our urban exploring season winds down, we here at Abandoned Wonders are very much looking forward to taking some time off. But on our last stop of the year, we visited a place that appears to have been forgotten a long time ago.

This is a place that has come to go by many names. To some, it is known as “Tory’s Prison.” There is an urban legend that abounds that this place was once a prison for British sympathizers during the Colonial Era. To others, it is simply known as “Old Stone Jailhouse.” This hallowed ground’s true name is in fact Camp Nepaug. First built during the Great Depression, this area was a refugee for the weary travelers of the darkest times in American history. Transients and vagabonds could live/work here for a time before eventually continuing on with their quest to find solace. But if these men ever needed a grown-up version of a time out, there was a stone jailhouse on the grounds just for that purpose. The federal government created many camps such as this one across the country, in hopes of quelling the mass migration of drifters looking for work. Eventually, this area of refuge outlived her purpose. Though she has since been added as a Historical Landmark, that doesn’t do much to stop the hands of time.

And so, in the final days of Fall 2020, we made our journey out to the abandoned remains of Camp Nepaug. You see, I am a hunter. I love to hike and search for my abandoned places. It makes finding them that much more fun. I don’t like it when they’re literally just sitting right off the side of the road. And that’s how this place is. The road eventually turns to dirt as you get deeper into the forest, and then low and behold, there is Old Stone Jailhouse. There is even a small parking turn around right next to it. Coming up to the abandoned jailhouse is quite cool. The bars are still on the windows. The doors are gone. Glass and batteries, for some reason, liter themselves across the ground. There is a strong odor of fresh spray paint in the air, which is certainly concerning. Inside the jailhouse are some old fire logs and a few stacks of bygone newspapers. The roof is still there. Mostly. Holes in the old rotting ceiling allow you a peak at the clear blue sky. And you wonder what this place must’ve looked like way back when.

The abandoned jailhouse is really cool. But it’s also really small. So when we were finished with our investigation, we continued down the paths. Just to see what we could find. The old camp used to have several amenities for its guests. Unfortunately, few of these are still standing. Right across the road are the foundations and old fireplace of what was once the camp’s great hall. Farther down by the running waters of the river is the old well house. It is very similar to the jailhouse in its stone appearance, yet its considerably smaller. The only other thing of note here is the bunker. Take note, I don’t think this was its original purpose. A little ways passed the fireplace is a large pipe in the ground. Someone appears to have cut a doorway into this pipe and formed a sort of makeshift bunker down here. It is very dark inside, and the floor is coated in garbage. But it does actually go back a ways. Good thing we always bring our flashlights. You never know what you’re going to find. A surprise, to be sure. But a welcome one.

The last place we visit for the year is almost always a good one. And the abandoned Camp Nepaug was no exception. This was our final stop for the 2020 season. As always, we take a nice long hiatus through the winter. It’s usually because of the holiday season chaos and snow. But this year, we honestly just need a break from everything. We’re hoping, with a regime change, the global pandemic will eventually be gotten under control. And we will finally be able to venture outside of Connecticut. So hopefully, we can all someday begin to put this ugly year behind us. But you see, forgetting can be a hard thing to do. Just ask the abandoned Camp Nepaug. It’s past has been lost to many, yet the history remains. We all wish we had places like an oubliette to put our bad memories. But it doesn’t really work like that. Drinking is not the answer. Trust me on that. Therapy helps, to a certain extent. But honestly, when it comes to hardship, there is no forgetting about it. You just have to learn from it.

Who Goes There?

The Abandoned Union Pond Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Abandoned places can be very fickle things. Some are cast aside, left to rot on their own. The world quickly forgets about them and wants nothing to do with them. Others lie dormant for years, but eventually find their resurgence. Old mills are converted to apartment buildings. Failed businesses are resurrected with new ideas. Colossal historical landmarks become preserved ruins and tourist attractions. But there is sometimes a darker side to all of this. Some abandoned places become black holes when they are cast out into the cold. Having failed at their calling purpose, they eventually turn into something ugly. And that is what we have here today. It was once a thriving staple of the local community, wearing many different hats over the years. Now, it is nothing more than a dark and twisted reflection of its former self. This, among other things, are what make this place so unique. And while so many people know about it, very few seem to know how it got this way.

I have yet to really find a concrete name for this mysterious place. I’m just calling it Union Pond Mill because of it’s proximity to Union Pond. But everyone in Manchester knows about it. The mill was first built in the early 1900’s, working with both wool and paper. Located alongside the Hockanum River, the mill was at an ideal crossroads in the town of Manchester. It was unfortunately forced to close down around the turn of the century after polluting the nearby Union Pond. After this, the facility was purchased by the Boticelo Corporation, and started a new life as a recycling center. This, sadly, also wasn’t meant to be. After a few short years, the Union Mill was forced to close its doors once again. This time for good. The ground are allegedly now owned by CL&P, and supposed to be still up for sale. I talked to some people who said they once used the abandoned mill as a makeshift skate park. Many others steer clear of this place due to the number of unsavory characters said to stalk the halls at night.

Finding the abandoned Union Pond Mill isn’t too difficult. As I said, it is right smack along the side of a very busy intersection in Manchester. If you know where to look, you will find it very easily. We had talked about investigating this place for a long while now. We had just never found the time to go take a look around. Having lived in Manchester, we had driven past it many times. Sometimes it looked like it was being demolished. Sometimes it didn’t. But one summer afternoon, we decided to go looking for it. After taking a short walk through the woods, we came upon the abandoned mill. There was not a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign on our way in. And once you arrive at the abandoned property, everything seems to just fall silent. There were no birds singing. The summer bugs all seemed to disappear. And even though a busy road was right through the trees, the mill was quiet as a tomb when we arrived. That said, it didn’t take long for us to get the feeling that we were being watched.

There is plenty of old equipment, broken bottles, and discarded trash littering the wasteland. Colorful and kooky graffiti coats the rafters. Many old fire pits have stained sections of the cement floor pitch black. Vines and vegetation grow from any facet of building they can reach. But other than the liter, the warehouses are shockingly devoid. It was a breezy summer day. And each little burst of wind caused the very foundation of this place to tremble. There were times walking around the abandoned mill that I thought it was going to collapse at any second. You can still get upstairs in a few places. Just watch your step, as everything in here feels incredibly precarious. Plus we found evidence of somebody living up there. Some demolition has obviously been done. The main chimney has endured a lot of vandalism, but still stands silently tall at the front. Clearly someone is checking up on this place, as there are many paths through the undergrowth that guide you from section to section of the mill.

As we began to head out from the mill, I saw the shadow of a person from the other side of the main wall. It followed us as we began to move out. They were not chasing us. Just slowly trailing a few steps behind us. No noise was made. The shadow just moved through the outside underbrush after us. This was honestly one of the very few times I’ve felt genuinely nervous while out exploring. I am not ashamed to admit that. Whoever it was stopped pursuing us once we cleared the main gate. From the moment we arrived, I knew someone…or something was watching us. It is a feeling you just can’t shake. This place has quite the reputation for being a haven of the outcasts. And as we learned that day, this reputation is justly deserved. It was probably just a homeless individual keeping watch over their spot. But still. You can never be too careful, especially in a place like this. The sounds of work and jobs are gone from here, now. Only mystery remains.

Tears of a Mountain

The Abandoned Mount Beacon Railway

Written by: Wilk

Photographs: Lassie

Most people like to go the beach on their vacations. Somewhere hot, where there’s a soft ocean breeze and they put little umbrellas in the drinks. I am not one of those people. I don’t like sand. It’s coarse, and rough, and irritating. And it gets everywhere. (References, we’ve got them.) Personally, I prefer the mountains. Always have. Always will. Whether it be winter or summer, they are my favorite places to visit. There is just something so breathtaking and awe-inspiring about them. I’ve been climbing them my whole life. From my time in the Scouts, up until now. There is just no better feeling than reaching a beautiful mountain top after a long hike. By the way, this will be our 100th post here at Abandoned Wonders, so be warned. There will be a lot of reminiscing moving forward. While vacationing in New York, we decided to climb one of the local mountains – Mount Beacon. Little did we know at the time, this place holds a story and a secret that sets her apart from most mountaintops.

It was once known officially as the Mount Beacon Incline Railway, located in the absolutely beautiful town of Beacon, New York. First established in 1902, the railway was a very popular tourist attraction for much of its heyday. If you have ever rode Mount Washington’s Cog Railway in New Hampshire, this establishment was very similar….just on a much smaller scale. A trolley system ferried guests up the picturesque mountaintop to an old fashioned casino, luxurious hotel, and a gorgeous view of the Hudson River Valley. For decades, this place was a staple of the local community. But as we all know, time stands still for no one. Eventually, financial issues caused the downfall of the railway. And while she went out of business in the 1970’s, she was also added to the list of National Historical landmarks. Unfortunately, not much still stands of the attraction after a vicious case of alleged arson destroyed most of the buildings atop of the mountain. Now, all that remains of this former hotspot are the memories of what once was.

While on our trip to the Hudson River Valley, we decided to take a stop at the nearby Mount Beacon. Having just toured Bannerman Castle the day before, we thought it would be an appropriate follow-up. At first glances, this place appears to be like any other mountain hike. But if you take a closer look, there is so much more than meets the eye. The old train tracks still run down the side of the mountain, like a trail of tears from the former summit. About half-way up, a few old train trolleys rust into oblivion. Honestly, the train tracks are hard to photograph, due to the large amount of vegetation growing around them. A trail of rotting utility polls lead upward like a twisted trail of breadcrumbs. Atop of the mountain, the old wheelhouse lies in ruin. The brick hull of the building crumbles, whilst the heavy machinery inside is actually in pretty decent shape. Minus the myriad of graffiti, of course. But the hotel and casino are long gone, unfortunate victims of the fire that once consumed this lonely mountain. Funny enough, you can even get a great glimpse of Bannerman Castle itself from up here.

I wish I could say that there was more to see here. But this is definitely a piece for all the hikers. And trust me when I say, this was one Hell of a hike. But it also had one Hell of a payoff. It seems the old railway has finally met her doom at the top of Mount Beacon. While there are movements to restore it to its former glory, there is regrettably not much left to save here. The old train tracks are slowly being eaten alive by the forest around them. Where the hotel and casino once stood are now nothing more than ruins. The wheelhouse has become a target for the local vandals. And yet, the view from the top of the pinnacle’s highest peak is still bloody breathtaking. That, my friends, is one thing that will always set this place apart. The Hudson River Valley is truly one the most amazing places I have ever seen. And there is no better place to see it than atop this amazing mountain. Though time seems to march on without the Mount Beacon Railway, nobody will ever be able to take that away.

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” –Greg Child

 

Exodus: Chapter 1

The Abandoned Sacred Heart Church

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

This is one of those rare pieces where I am not going to reveal the location of this place. If you know this place (and I’m sure a lot of you do), please don’t make a comment or anything. It will be deleted. We really want to provide some respect for this fallen place of worship. Ever since we got into this, and ever since our time in Alabama (where churches are EVERYWHERE), we have wanted to find and explore an abandoned church. There’s just something mystical about them. A few years ago, a reader tipped us off about one in the New Britain woods. But we were never able to find it. This one was sitting right in front us. We just needed a closer look.

It was an early Saturday morning, in the waning days of Summer 2018. We had just had breakfast down the street at a nice little diner. I had heard stories about this place, but we finally had a chance to go check it out. It is a place I had driven by for many years during my childhood. I was always captivated by its sheer size and elegance. And even today, in her derelict state, this once mighty church is still quite captivating. Moss and water damage eat away at her outer hull. Graffiti coats the outer walls, though someone is clearly trying to combat it. The once lively parking lot and front entrance are now empty and desolately silent.

We did not go inside this church out of respect. All the photos you see here are taken from a sadly gaping hole that vandals have caused on the back doors. Someone has literally busted through the plywood to get inside. And these are the people that give us all a bad name. This was once a place of light, community, and hope. But now, it has become a playground of destruction and despair. And regrettably, abandoned churches are becoming more and more common across the region. With higher repair costs and declining attendance, many churches are closing their doors. Will there be hope for this place someday? The world will decide. The world always decides.

“Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What God desires is here, and here, and what you decide to do everyday to be a good man – or not.” – Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Bizarro World

The Abandoned Mount Tom Ski Area

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Every abandoned place is a little bit bizarre. I think that kind of just comes with the territory. Some of them are just better at hiding it than others (if you got the reference, pat yourself on the back). Each one is so very similar, yet completely unique in their own special ways. Derelict liter coats the ground. Colorful graffiti is plastered all over the walls. Distant echoes of days long since passed still linger in the air. But this one was different. Very different. The only other place that I got a similar vibe from was the infamous Sunrise Resort many years ago. And that was the first abandoned place that we had ever explored. Walking through the grounds was just very, for lack of a better word, bizarre. It was surreal. We’re talking a whole new world living just outside the spectrum of our own. And so few of us even know of its existence. It honestly gave me a profound feeling of, “Holy shit. This place is real.” It is a rare feeling, but a cool one none the less.

This is the Mount Tom Ski Area in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Her story began 1962. Following a similar trend of many of the now abandoned ski areas we’ve covered in the past, it opened during the boom period of skiing. During this period, smaller ski slopes began to pop up all over the Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut areas. Their notable amenities included ski school, night skiing (who the Hell does that?), and a state of the art chair lift system. She thrived here for many years. But, regrettably, that trend of seasonal fun slowly began to wane in the New England area. Larger snow resort empires, particularly in Vermont, gradually began to consolidate their power over the industry. Her story ended in 1998 when she finally went out of business. Or was it just the next chapter? Though there have been several attempts at a revival, the Mount Tom Ski Area has sat here abandoned ever since. And over the years, she has become plagued with an ever increasing vandal and arson problem.

Our trip to the Mount Tom Ski Area was a weird one. We did extensive research on this place before making our visit in mid-summer of 2018. Full disclosure: we had done an interview with The Boston Globe a few weeks before. They had contacted us wanting to do a piece on urban exploration, and were going to come with us on our investigation. This, however, fell through due to legal issues. No hard feelings, though. Luckily, it was only a short drive for us. It was a brief, yet heavily sunbathed, hike to the old ski area. It lies deep in the heart of the Mount Tom reservation. Right off the bat, things got weird. As we approached the old facility, we heard music. Loud music. Followed by lots of voices. As we rounded the corner, we realized it was a party. About a dozen people, a long with a baby, were partying in the park’s old wave-pool. Unusual, but okay. We continued on. Usually we’re alone for our investigations. But there was actually a lot of people here.

We seemed to be the only one’s really interested in exploring the buildings, though. Which we did. All of them. This seems to happen a lot at abandoned places during the summer. People care less about the place, and more about having a good time. One building was completely gutted by a maliciously started fire a few years ago, and now remains fenced off. The rest of the buildings, including the main lodge, are now treasure troves of graffiti and destruction. Some old equipment was clearly left behind, but has since been destroyed. Everything here is in a serious state of decay. It was honestly some of the best examples of true urban exploration that we have ever found. Yet, strangely enough, we weren’t able to get as many good pictures as we wanted because of how many people were hanging out at the old facility. We were cautious of them at first, but eventually came to the realization that nobody really gave a shit. Its a problem we never really faced before. Still, though, I think the images we did get speak for themselves.

Mount Tom Ski Area is more than worth a look. I think the summer time setting definitely helped bring it more to life, too. The urban decay here is just really striking and raw. The color graffiti shines vibrantly in the summer sunshine. There is a lot left to see. But truly, this was a bizarre place indeed. Much like the old Sunrise Resort, I walked through this place with just an odd feeling. Everything was just so different and weird. We’re used to having to sneak around places were exploring. But not here. There was a group of young adults having a party in an empty wave pool. Some old guy was giving his family of five a guided tour of the grounds. Another young couple walked around in silence looking just as confused as us. A lone minstrel perused the abandoned buildings singing songs to himself. Yet none of these groups interacted with each other, almost like everyone was invisible to everyone else. It was all quite odd. But then again, much like abandoned places, each of one of us is just a little bit…bizarre.

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise what it is, it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be it would, you see?” –Alice in Wonderland

Welcome Home

The Abandoned Marlborough Commons

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Marlborough, Connecticut, is and always will be my home at heart. I grew up here. I spent my entire childhood and young adult life here. I know this town like no other, especially growing up in the time where kids used their bikes to get everywhere. But as much as I love this little town, so many things have changed about it. Many of the smaller local businesses are no more. Construction is underway on a large supermarket. And many of the people I once knew have moved on. It is simply the way of life. We have covered the abandoned Marlborough Commons shopping center in the past. But several years later, it has taken a grim turn for the worse.

 A mere stone’s throw from the now hustling and bustling center of town lies the now abandoned Marlborough Commons. I can’t tell you exactly what year it officially went under, but I do know that this place never quite picked up traction as a local business. Maybe it was their location, sitting pretty right off the entrance/exit ramp from Route 2. From what I remember, it was always a two-floor business complex with the restaurant a bit further down the lot. Many different establishments came and went from here, none sticking around for too long. The complex limped on as long as it could, and has now sat empty and deserted for almost ten long years.

On a beautiful summer day in 2017, we decided to pay the Marlborough Commons a visit. Though it is still listed as FOR SALE, we did not encounter a single NO TRESPASSING, KEEP OUT, or PRIVATE PROPERTY sign anywhere on the property. Since the almost three years since our last visit, the Commons has certainly entered a downward spiral. The once minimal vandalism has run rampant at this former shopping center. Windows have been smashed. Doors have been boarded up. Graffiti stains the old brick walls. Farther down the lot, the old cafe is slowly being engulfed by the wild and hungry vegetation.  Nature, much like the vandals, has struck back in a big way.

They say the older we get, the more things we have to leave behind. That’s life. And as my old hometown grows and grows, places like the Marlborough Commons seemingly get left behind. Most of the old businesses I grew up with are now gone. It is sad to see what was once a cornerstone of our local community now sitting in a state of such disrepair. But like I said, a big FOR SALE sign sits out front. The Marlborough Commons is not beyond salvageable yet. I hope to see her rise again someday, stranger things have happened. And if I’ve learned anything growing up in this lovable little community, it’s that you can never count the town of Marlborough out.

Alone, Not Lonely

The Abandoned Pawtucket/Central Falls Train Station

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Sean L.

What does it mean to be lonely? It is a feeling we have all felt at least once in our lives. To some of us, it is feeling we know all to well. But there is a big difference between being alone, and being lonely. Some find solace in it. Others find only fear and despair. Have you ever looked around in a crowd and saw that one person sitting by themselves? They usually pull their phone out of their pocket and mindlessly pretend to be texting someone or calling someone, making sure everyone around them can see. It is like being alone scares them. It is like doing this makes them feel better. For the first time ever, I did this investigation all on my own. I had an audition in Rhode Island, and Amanda was working. It was quite different flying solo, and it really wasn’t the same. I made the hour and a half journey all by myself, not knowing full well what lay ahead of me. In order to make the trip feel more worth while, I stopped by a place I had always had my eye on: The Pawtucket/Central Falls Train Station.

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The historic cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, Rhode Island, share a border. Both sit just outside of the capital, Providence, and are in close proximity to the Massachusetts state line. Things like this, or even fate perhaps, made them a crossroads for trade. In the early days, both cities had their own personal train stations. But in 1916, this was consolidated to one station which would share the name and interests of both cities. For years she saw hundreds of trains and passengers pass through her doors. But it was not long before she, much like several railroads we’ve covered in the past, began to fall into despair. By 1960, the station had been closed for good after being in such bad shape. Today, she still barely stands. There are currently plans to revive the station and/or rebuild it. The local government is currently planning on using grant money, and hopefully federal funding to bring the old station back to life. But until that days comes, this sad former crossroads now sits abandoned.

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My trip to the former train station was a sad one. It was a bright sunny day, but things just didn’t feel right around here. She sits all alone in the middle of a busy intersection, and looks to still be barely standing anymore. The years have clearly not been too kind to her. All around, the hustle and bustle of the local community continues about its comings and goings. Most don’t pay it any attention at all. I saw a few homeless people snooping around, and a few other characters sitting on the guardrails for their smoke breaks. The place is huge, and well fortified. Or so it would seem. Fences cover the main gate, which is still in pretty good shape. But across the bridge to the other side, the fences have been completely torn down. And a few doors now stand completely wide open to the world. Inside, she seems very structurally unsound and unsafe. Graffiti coats the outside and inside walls. All sorts of junk lies littered about the grounds. And this former train station evokes nothing but a strong feeling of dread.

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Like I said before, there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. To be lonely is to be sad because you’re alone, and to long for companionship. I didn’t see that here. The Pawtucket/Central Falls train station may look grim now, but there may yet be hope for it. Things could turn around if the money is found. But we’ll see. There is a strong feeling amongst the grounds that this old workhorse doesn’t want any visitors, that she just wants to be left in her solitude. Maybe she wants to simply continue her slow descent into destruction. Maybe this is all the future holds for her. She’s seen too much; from her glorious heyday to her dark current state. And the towns around her don’t seem to want much to do with her either. They all seem to have forgotten about this former station. She was once a cornerstone of the New England railroad system. Travelers from all over the country and local community passed through her ornate gates. She now sits all alone, but not lonely.

Finish Your Popcorn – The Abandoned Willimantic Movieplex

Posted: October 27, 2016 by 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

Into the Cages

The Abandoned Shade Swamp Shelter

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I have always hated seeing animals in cages, for as long as I can remember. Few things in life make me sadder than that. As a kid, I never liked going to the zoo or even the aquarium. Whereas most children found seeing the animals to be quite a fun and exciting experience, I felt only despair. Seeing what was once a wild animal trapped inside a cage always brought about feelings of sadness and anger. I can’t really explain it. I mean, not all cages are bad. Zoos aren’t the only ones to keep animals in cages. Animal shelters and rescue facilities keep their residents in cages, but for better reasons. Healing of injured animals or protecting endangered ones are a noble task indeed. But still, the thought of freedom being taken away is a dark one. And the image of cage can be a frightening one, especially when its been abandoned for many years.

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Our subject of this piece is a peculiar one: the abandoned Shade Swamp Shelter in Farmington, Connecticut. It is a far cry from most of the pieces we have done on here. First established in the early 1930’s, the purpose of the shelter has varied over the years. The rustic log shelter that has since become its signature was originally designed and built by the historic Civilian Conservation Corps. It has ranged from being a roadside attraction to being a wildlife sanctuary. One of its nobler pursuits was being home for wildlife rehabilitation. The sanctuary was based in the Shade Swamp, and featured a variety of enclosures for injured wildlife. It sadly went under during the 1960’s, and has been more or less abandoned ever since. A stroke of luck, however, came in 1986 when the shelter was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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We made the trek to the abandoned shelter in the waning days of summer 2016. The heat was beginning to die down, and the first glimpses of the fall season were just sprouting up. Sitting alongside the heavily trafficked US 6 North, the Shade Swamp Shelter is not difficult to find. It is almost hard to believe what is hidden back there when you first see it. The area surrounding it is teaming with traffic, busy intersections, and office buildings. But here in the swamp, everything is quiet. Upon arrival, there is a small pull-up spot where a few cars can be parked. Luckily, we were the only visitors there that day. You are then greeted with the old structure of the shelter itself. Though it has clearly been taken care of, there is also sadly evidence of vandalism and a recent fire inside of it. Given its age though, I’d say she looks pretty good. But it is further down the trail that the true hidden gems of this place lie.

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A short walk down the winding and nearly overgrown nature trail, we found the cages. Rusted to all Hell and in varying ranges of decay, there are nearly two dozen large pen cages lining either side of the trail. The ones on the right side are smaller, and feature stone dens at the back. The ones on the left side are much larger and have blue painted exteriors. Off the beaten path there is one bigger enclosure that is far different from the others, and was in the worst shape. The rusty fence is still up in a few places, and a few gagged pieces of metal are still nailed to a few of the trees. Be careful where you step. The trail will lead you further into the swamp, but circles back in one big loop. After the cages, you will find a few old relic from the sanctuary’s heyday, but nothing truly of note. The strange aura and mystique of these large abandoned enclosures are enough of a sight to see. You can even set foot inside a few of them, if you are brave enough.

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What is it about cages that make them so unsettling? Is it the thought of being trapped with nowhere to hide? Or is it something more? Perhaps the very notion of that precious freedom that we all seem to take for granted being taken away is what makes them so unsettling. Anyhow, the abandoned Shade Swamp Shelter is a great visit for anyone looking for a good hike and adventure seekers. There are no abandoned buildings or asylums here: just the remnants of a place long forgotten. It literally sits a few meager yards from a hustling and bustling community. But everything is silenced by the aura of the swamp. Chipmunks and birds roam freely here, making their homes into these old enclosures. Their world is seemingly untouched by ours out here. And though these cages now sit empty, they stand as a grim reminder of what was and what could have been.

Angel of the Asylum – The Mystery of Saint Mary

Posted: September 1, 2016 by Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Children's Hospital, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Mansfield, Mansfield Training School, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Seaside Sanatorium, Stories, Storrs, time, UCONN, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex
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Angel of the Asylum

The Mystery of Saint Mary

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

I honestly never thought I would be quoting the Bible on this blog. I am not a religious person, and frankly this is not a religious piece. It is just a story about something weird we encountered in our travels. Over the years, we have seen and experienced many strange things exploring abandoned places. Things like whispers in the dark, unsettling feelings, and random waves of energy have all come to pass. But this was one of the more special cases. It happened on a late summer afternoon. It was your typical lazy Sunday, and a day that we had decided to visit our old friend Mansfield Training School. Since we visit Seaside Sanatorium every summer, we thought it might be nice to document this abandoned hospital annually as well. But what we found that day was a bit strange. It could all just be harmless fun, but it was just a little too weird for my taste.

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Now, we have already done one piece on the abandoned Mansfield Training School. You can find it here on our site if you want to know more. We will also be putting out an entirely separate piece on our return visit in the coming weeks. This piece stands on it’s own. Rather than talking about the history of the abandoned hospital once again, we shall be covering something different; Saint Mary. As the mother of Jesus Christ, Mary is one of the most prominent and well known saints of the entire Christian faith. It is believed that the Virgin Mary bore the son of God, who would go on to die for our sins on the cross. Statues, paintings, and stained glass windows bearing her image can be seen today all over the world. She has also claimed to have been seen and involved in many “miraculous” incidents throughout history, many of which still go unexplained today. And this case is no exception.

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On our first visit to the abandoned Mansfield Training School one year prior, we had discovered a ghostly statue of Saint Mary in the basement of one of the buildings on the far east side of the complex. On this day, we found the exact same statue standing at the gates to a different building on the far west side. She had been moved. Whereas once she stood guard below ground, she was now warding off any intruders from entering this new building. And we did double check old photos and the building we first found her in: it is indeed the same statue. Odds are, some college kids from the neighboring UCONN moved her as a prank. But still, maybe something else was at work here. The grounds are known as paranormal hot spots, and hauntings are said to be a regular occurrence here. Is this just some silly prank? Or is there something more supernatural at work here?

Perhaps it’s all just a coincidence. But then again, perhaps it isn’t.