Posts Tagged ‘Worcester’

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

Roadkill – The Abandoned Sutton Drive-In

Posted: April 21, 2021 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Restaurant, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned Stores, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Automobiles, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Massachusetts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, New Hampshire, New York, photography, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Searching, Showcase Cinema, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vermont, writing
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Roadkill

The Abandoned Sutton Drive-In

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

This is an ugly place. So this will be an ugly piece. You have been warned. I’ve run over three squirrels in my life. A lot of people don’t believe me. But it’s true. It’s something I’ll never forget. I remember each one. I ran over a turtle once, but he was fine. I was seventeen years old. It was in my first car, an old Dodge Neon I bought for four thousand dollars in cash I made washing dishes and refereeing paintball. I got out my shitty old car thinking I had hurt the poor little bugger, but he was just hunkered down in his shell. Staring back at me. Probably quite cross with the whole situation. So I just picked him up and moved him out of the road. I’m kind of foolish in that way, I will do whatever I can to avoid hitting an animal. I’d like to think that most of us do. But sometimes, it’s simply unavoidable. Things happen. Innocence is lost. Life is extinguished. A once wild and fleeting flame is snuffed out by the unyielding juggernaut of man’s world. I hate driving by them. Cold. Lifeless. Hurt. Their faces usually frozen in a sharp sense of shock and sorrow. Whenever I pass something like this, I can’t help but look away. Life is a cruel road. Some get lucky like that brave little turtle. Others, not so much.

And so, allow me to introduce this month’s subject: the abandoned Sutton Drive-In. Originally named the Sutton Motor Inn, most in our community have just come to call it the latter. This is in fact not our first abandoned drive-in movie theater. And I’m sure that it won’t be our last. You see, these places were a big fad in a passed life. And Sutton Drive-In was no exception. It was first opened in 1947, earlier than most drive-in movie theaters in the area. But still, this was right at the peak of their rise to dominance. Plus, this place was located in the ideal location of the Providence-Worcester Turnpike. This busy highway was and still is the main route between Worcester, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. Many businesses have come and gone from this hot-spot over the years. The drive-in theater remained on top for quite awhile. But with only one screen, this old heavy hitter simply could not keep up with the times. After playing many blockbusters on her screen, the Sutton Drive-In was eventually forced to close its doors for good in 1996. Though ownership has been up for grabs ever since, the old theater has been left rotting and abandoned ever since.

As I said in our last piece, we are going to try exploring as many places outside of Connecticut as possible this year. Now that the vaccine is finally making a difference, we plan on taking full advantage of venturing to as many other states as possible. Slowly, and safely, of course. So we decided that now was the perfect time to pay a visit to the abandoned Sutton Drive-In. After some rather bizarre weather this past week, including some snow, we finally found some decent weather on a late April Sunday. It was quiet. The sun was shining brightly. And there was a slight breeze in the air. The one thing holding me back from exploring this place before was it’s location. There is no other way to get into it without going through the main gate. Being on such a busy road, there are no side trails or anything to help with exploration. The abandoned theater is just sitting there alongside the busy interstate turnpike. Many other rural and big businesses are neighbors, making this place really stick out. It felt rather weird, but we just pulled up to the main gate. Beneath the old marquee. You really feel like you’re doing something wrong, but nobody else seems to care. There weren’t any NO TRESPASSING signs or anything of the sort at the front.

The main gate is made of ornate stone and rotting wood. Even in its current state of decay, it it quite grand. The marquee itself still beckons all visitors to it, even with it’s fading light. Wires and other junk hang from its ceiling. The sole movie screen looms out of the distance like a colossal monolith. An old sign still stands by the gate, but the only word left standing is “APPROXIMATELY.” I wonder what it once said. Walking down the main road takes you to the ticket booth. It is an A-frame type structure covered in colorful paint. But beware. It is full of bees. They are easily startled. They weren’t as bad as the spider crickets of the Clausland Mountain Tunnels. But still, not fun. A few steps away stands the great grey screen. Panels are missing. Graffiti is rampant. On the side of the screen is the old access door. The frame of the screen appears to be slowly collapsing. There is an even an old ladder leading to the top, though I dare not climb it. Outside, the old road is cracked into a jagged jigsaw puzzle of earth and pavement. Ghostly critters scurry amongst the underbrush. A short walk down the vacant lot is the projection house/snack bar. It is absolutely gutted on the inside. Each room is coated in graffiti and rampant with liter. Everything just felt old, broken, and lost. And though there wasn’t too much to see, this place certainly leaves an impression.

I honestly wouldn’t recommend a visit to the abandoned Sutton Drive-In. It’s just not worth it. It’s one we’ve had on our list for awhile, and it certainly is unique. But in a very dark sort of way. Though there was not a single NO TRESPASSING/KEEP OUT sign at the main gate, this place just felt rather off. I really didn’t like how to close to the main road it was. I prefer doing my exploring deep in the woods or the darkness of the underworld. Anywhere away from prying eyes. The air here is putrid with the stench of car exhaust, old cigarettes, and rotting wood. The ground is coarse with cracked pavement and glittering gravel. And while most abandoned places are eerily quiet, this one is filled with a frenzied chorus of noise. The neighboring highway runs wild and busy. Cars from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and wherever else cruise back and forth. Day in and day out. Chasing that American Dream. While the abandoned Drive-In sits rotting along the side of the road. Like an animal that’s been hit by a car. Forever frozen in a state of terror and sadness. It’s future just as grim as it’s fading screen. Dozens pass by it everyday. Perhaps some notice. Perhaps some still wish there had been something they could’ve done to help. Most just look away.