Posts Tagged ‘Walking’

The Bruin Ruins

The Abandoned Boston Bear Dens

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I’ve never liked going to the zoo. Ever since I was just a kid. I know that they do a lot of good. I know that many of them help rehabilitate wildlife. I know that they bring so much joy to so many people. It’s just the idea of these amazing animals in captivity where they don’t belong has never sat well with me. I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. Maybe it’s because I grew up with more dogs in my house than siblings. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like I had a stronger connection to animals than other people. I don’t know, and frankly, this line of thought is getting depressing. Moving on. We’ve covered a couple abandoned zoos in the past, most notably the Shade Swamp Shelter in Central Connecticut. They’ve always been kind of creepy. But this place was a bit more unique. For starters, this is only a forgotten piece of one of the largest zoos in New England. Also, it currently stands in the middle of the biggest city in the North Eastern United States – Boston, Massachusetts.

This is Franklin Park. Say hello, everyone. It is more, or less, the equivalent of Boston’s Central Park. As in, it is the largest park within the city limits. First opening in the early nineteen hundreds, one of the key features of the park is the zoo. When it’s doors first opened in 1908, Franklin Park Zoo was free to the public, covered a great distance across the park, and housed many different exotic animals. For many years, the zoo was a big hit. However, it unfortunately was just hitting its stride as the rest of the country began to fall on hard times during the mid 1920’s. She sadly fell into disrepair, until 1958 when the grounds were acquired by the local government. The zoo was brought back to life in a big way, and flourishes even today. But during this time of renovation, certain sectors of the grounds were cut off and left to rot. One such part are the now abandoned Bear Dens of the Long Crouch Woods. The animals, of course, did find other homes in the expanded zoo. But their old enclosures were deemed to expensive to take down.

March is Lassie’s birthday month, and we go on a short mini-vacation every year to celebrate. This year, we had chosen Boston as our destination. Naturally, we looked for at least one abandoned place in the city to check out. Truth be told, I hadn’t been to Boston in four years. I had filmed plenty of movies and commercials up there when I was younger, but hadn’t been around that way in a long time. After a bit of searching, we both became captivated by this place and decided to pay it a visit. Lucky for us, we got some pretty decent weather. Also lucky for us, Franklin Park is only a few blocks walk from the nearest T-station. We made the trip in the early morning, so as to get the most out of our day. The park was mostly quiet, given that it was a school day and all. It is also full of amenities, including the aforementioned zoo, a school, and a playground. Unfortunately, we chose not to bring our camera since we had plans in the city later that afternoon. So all of these photos were taken on our phones.

The abandoned Bear Dens lie in the northern most point of the park, also known as the Long Crouch Woods. And I can honestly say, they are very striking. Against the grey backdrop of the Spring New England skyline, the old bear dens are rundown but still very grand in stature. All of the metal framework is quite rusted, and much of the stone is crumbling. Yet the sheer size and elegance of it all gives this place a very sturdy and unique look to it all. The mix of grey stone and brown metal make for a strong outward appearance. At the very top of the stone frame, the carvings of two bears and can still be seen. If you’re feeling daring, you can still peek into a few of the old sleeping quarters in the back. A very nice Park Ranger did come to check up on us. He unfortunately did not have much information to tell us, but let us take all of the pictures that we wanted. Which was nice. In my experiences, security guards can be a real hit or miss. Some can be really cool, like this gentleman. Others, however, can be real assholes.

We stayed for a decent amount of time. There isn’t too much to see here, but it is a really cool place. As far as I know, the abandoned Bear Dens are completely legal to visit. Just be cool about it, as the Park Rangers obviously keep a close eye on this place. And rightfully so. There was hardly any graffiti or vandalism here, but there were some rather unsavory characters snooping around after we left. Much like the bears that once roamed this unique place, it is has a rough exterior and a certain majesty about it. We of course visited the regular zoo once we were finished exploring, which I highly recommend. As I said earlier, I usually don’t like visiting zoos. But this place is very special. I personally found the hyenas to be my favorite exhibit. The park has so much history to it. The bear dens still stand tough after all these years. The zoo itself is so full of life. And just because you didn’t like something for years, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.

 

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.