It had been almost four years since my last trip to Connecticut to visit the 'wich. That trip back in 2006 had ended abruptly after running into the crew for VH1's Celebrity Paranormal Activity, which was ironically kind of terrifying. Maybe not quite as terrifying as it would have been to run into Gary Busey in an abandonment. I might have been 20 at the time, and the kids I was visiting with were 17 and 18. I wasn’t interested in a finding out how getting charged with Aiding and Abetting a Minor works, so our visit ended with a headlong sprint through the pitch the black tunnels, towards the train tracks. That trip, along with recent news the place had finally transitioned from private security to police patrols, had me wondering if it was worth it to go back. Fortunately, I had a friend who had been there “like, literally hundreds of times” and when our half-assed attempt to drive to Poughkeepsie went bust, we wound up here in Connecticut.
We decided to start with the buildings on the eastern side of the road, near the lake. He hadn’t seen them in a while, and I had always avoided them after hearing stories about SWAT drills taking place on this side of the campus. So we made our way through the first building we happened upon, which despite it being a tiny outlying building, offered some new things to shoot. The air inside was cold and musty, and made me think about the trips I had made here when I was just out of high school. The floor was that familiar tile and moss, and the plaster on the walls was still crumbling away to reveal the thin rusted metal beams that lined the inside of the walls. That familiar sense of relaxation set in when you realize that you’re done huffing up the hill in a sweatshirt with 30lbs of camera gear, and now you’re safely hidden inside some old temple dedicated to the worship of early 1900s mental health.
Some of the rooms were really clean and completely empty. Others were overgrown. The floor and roof slowly vanishing as the trees and grass advanced into the windows. One of the rooms was full of children’s toys and books, and had a busted old television at the front of a row of desks. Seems like this was daycare for the doctors and nurses and other boarders who lived and worked in the hospital. The building was small, but made every effort to appear stately with four massive columns at the entrance. It was disappointing to see the facade collapsing, and the second story porch almost completely rotted through.
After packing up, we took a walk through the old doctor's neighbourhood, and wandered in circles past the overgrown houses for a bit before figuring out which way was south and heading down road to visit the newer medical buildings. The buildings had drop ceilings and cinder block walls and weren't that interesting on the inside.
After shooting for a bit, and feeling like I had gotten a sense of the state of the campus, we chose to reserve the remaining daylight for a trip down to coast to check out everyone’s fallback for Norwich: that children’s hospital next to the ocean.
About a year or so after my first visit to the children’s hospital, I had heard it was demolished, which I was only kinda sad about. As turns out, the place was still standing. I can only imagine that this misinformation was part of an internet conspiracy to tell everyone that it had been bulldozed so they would go somewhere else worthwhile with their weekends.
The place is a wreck now. Anecdotally, the property is now privately owned with private security for keeping all the batshit ghost hunters away. Just about everything of interest has been removed, and it looks like both the outside doors and windows, along with the inside doors have been sealed up tight. We found heavy chains and padlocks blocking access to stairwells and side rooms. So with a private owner, and much of the interior locked up or ruined, I feel like this place is done.
I took as many pictures as I could, because some part of me was appreciative to find the place still standing, and I’m convinced it's unlikely I would see it again. Fortunately the clouds were beautiful, and we caught that sunset-hour direct golden light. Turned out to be a fun trip to a couple old hospitals that I hadn’t visited for years. It felt good to go back and check out some local spots that I had written off as lost causes.