Fairfield Hills State Hospital, Newtown

January, 2009 by Ray Bendici
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The Damned Story: Opened in 1931 to help alleviate the overcrowding at other state mental hospitals, Fairfield Hills housed "mentally ill" (aka "the criminally insane") patients from across the state. Built on over 770 bucolic acres, the 16 buildings—all connected by underground tunnels—were home to over 4,000 patients when filled to capacity. Like many of its patients, Fairfield Hills projected an outward image that seemed quite pleasing; what was happening inside behind closed doors and out of the public eye, however, was alledgedly much darker and disturbing.

As you might expect, Fairfield Hills was typical in its treatment of the mentally ill—electric shock therapy, hydrotherapy, psychosurgery and frontal lobotomies were common early on, resulting in a few suicides and "mysterious" deaths. Stories of abuse and cruelty were rampant. In short, it wasn't a happy-smiley, fluffy-kitty and shiny-rainbow type of place.

With less and less patients being treated there, Fairfield Hills was closed by the state in 1995. And that's when it seems the troubles began.

Because of its classic stately hospital look (red brick buildings, tall white columns, etc.), and its long, cruel history, it was used as a setting for the movie Sleepers as well as for MTV's "Fear." And as any abandoned mental hospital that's been on TV will do, it's brought a bevvy of paranormal investigators, psychics, abandoned-site explorers and other trouble seekers, who have claimed to have found evidence of hauntings, although no specific ghost/spirit/story is synonymous with the place.

Old hospital, underground tunnels, cruel history—must be haunted, right? Right? As with many hauntings, no definitive proof or evidence, just a lot of odd experiences and unusual claims.

In 2009, the town refurbished the property to an extent. The tunnels were filled in and a few of the buildings were renovated; some now hold municipal offices while others are used for commercial purposes. The property was also cleaned up, hiking trails and sports fields have been added, and much of the grounds are open to the public as a recreational area. 

Although the original history casts a shadow for some, most visitors now just enjoy a peaceful, parklike and family-friendly site. 

Our Damned Experience: Are the Hills alive with the sound of patients past? We have yet to be checked in for an examination.

If You Go: As mentioned, the Fairfield Hills Campus has seemingly had its demons exorcised by the city of Newtown, and is now open to the public. Some buildings are still closed off, but the majority of the property is open to exploration. 

Be warned, however: If you listen carefully, you still might hear shrieks and screams—of kids playing and having fun. 

 

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Submitted by dontworry (not verified) on
your seriously crazyyyy ^^^

Submitted by bridgeport folks (not verified) on
Me and my roommate went there for the second time tonight around 8:00pm. The first time we went to the Fairfield Hills was on a Friday night around 12:00pm, we had no problem walking around and there was no security in the area. However, tonight once we arrived, we saw a patrol car circling the buildings with his flood lights on. The guard noticed us walking around but did not approach us. We kept on walking around all of the buildings while the security watched us from afar. Once we decided it was time to head back to our car and leave, there was a police car waiting for us and the officer asked us what we were up to. She ended up telling us that a couple of kids had broken into one of the buildings shortly before we arrived and that they were still searching for them. She ended up letting us go as we were only walking around causing no harm and not breaking into any of the buildings. I guess it was just an unlucky night. I would recommend people to be extremely cautious if they intend to go into one of the buildings as there is in fact security until late at night and they will not hesitate to call the police or even search inside the buildings for any trespassers. From our experience though, there is no security around after 11/12 pm. There is a lot of wildlife around the buildings at night though (such as dears and raccoons). While walking around tonight, my roommate heard this loud “bump” noise from within one of the buildings. That was the only abnormal event all night.

Submitted by Joel (not verified) on
Dr. Gonzo...This is where my uncle lived! Wow. It now looks like it could be the set for a horror flick.

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
@Chrissy or @Kate If you don't mind telling, which building was this in?

Submitted by Chrissy (not verified) on
KATE #80 YES! i remember this room! i went to FH with my mom and dad in 2010, my mother and i got into this building while my dad kept watch outside....floor to ceiling filing cabinets and manilla folders with VERY personal patient records. i cannot believe all that stuff is still there. unfortunately our explorations were cut short as a guard was approaching the building to do his rounds so this was one of the only rooms we got to explore. my aunt also was committed there in the 90's, before it closed. not really sure why, exactly.

Submitted by Samantha (not verified) on
I wish I could go inside and see everything.

Submitted by JB (not verified) on
I worked at FFH as a psych aide from 1974 to 1978. I even lived on the grounds at Stamford Hall. We were in training for the job for almost a year. To a previous poster...we were trained very well indeed. It was not a scary place at all. I started out working in Canaan House and then went to Cochrane House which was primarily for geriatric patients. The hospital ward was there for physically ill patients as well. I have to say I have walked every tunnel there and nothing bad was ever seen. The patients were treated humanely. I have nothing bad to say about the time I spent working there. Every time I pass through the state on I-84, I glance over there and remember my time there. They are fond memories of a difficult job that not everyone is equipped mentally or physically to handle. I commend everyone who worked hard then and also those that take care of the mentally ill today.

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on
I worked there from 1984 to 1988. Contrary to what one poster stated, there were no frontal lobotomies or other "medieval" treatments being performed at that time. Advances in drug therapies rendered those treatments obsolete by the time I was employed there. Electroshock may have been used, but it still is for for illnesses such as intractable depression. What really was the beginning of the end for Fairfield Hills was the deinstitutionalization movement. Yes there was occasional cruelties, but no more so than any other institution of that type, at least during my time there. Most of the staff I worked with were compassionate, some were lazy but harmless, and there were a few dicks on a power trip. But they were in the minority. I worked in every building in the facility, but mostly in Cochrane House and mostly on the male acute unit, in admissions, geriatrics, or drug/alcohol detox. And yes, occasionally I had to transport deceased patients through the tunnels to the morgue. Always did this with a partner - hospital policy. These were elderly patients, some of whom had been in a vegetative state for years. We did what we could in a very challenging environment with no real training. It was at times quite dangerous, but I found that even with the most aggressive or psychotic patient, a willingness to be respectful and compassionate greatly reduced the chances of getting hurt.

Well- I am waiting for a local production to pick up on this. I'm gonna go talk to the maker of a local movie made years ago. Likely be a documentary really. Being a sane patient- I could add some appropriate insight. if anyone else who has been there as staff or a willing patient. Be sure to stay in touch-

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
Anyone have any tips on how to get into the fenced in building?

Submitted by Joel (not verified) on
My uncle was a psychiatrist at Fairfield Hills in the 60's and beyond and lived in one of the houses nearby. I remember the houses were in a long row and were identical. I remember visiting many times as a kid and how creepy the place seemed. It reminded me of the old Alfred Hitchcock tv shows. Creepy is the best adjective for this place. I would love to see the inside of these buildings and the tunnels but to be honest I think it would just scare the living crap out of me! I was creeped out as a kid and would be even more so today.

Submitted by Debi (not verified) on
Although a movie about FFH would be a thriller, right now sure isn't a good time for it IMO. We need places like FFH to re open with a more modern way of caring for the people that need it. Lanza might have been a patient there instead of a killer on the outside.

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
@Debi I totally agree with you I think that would be a great move for Newtown! @Joel unfortunately the tunnels have been filled in ):

Submitted by spankme (not verified) on
Im so sick of you kids coming into my house!! I live in FFH! Leave me the hell alone! There are no ghosts! Thats me making all them noises trying to keep you kids out! Now i finally found a way to run a few wires for basic power and NOW internet... the more you kids come around keeps the police and town officals coming in my buildings and they will find my power and internet lines that i grabbed from a close by building and take them out!! And i dont want that!! Next set of kids to come into my home has a pleasant suprise waiting for them! hahahahaaha. Cant wait!

Submitted by Joel (not verified) on
Thanks Christine. That's too bad because it takes away from the entire mystique! Regardless, I wouldn't have the guts to go through anyway! My hat goes off to all of those that did. Especially to the guys that got lost and freaked out after seeing the bare wet footprint. And to everyone else as well. These stories are great...even the fake ones! Cheers everyone!

Submitted by redrum (not verified) on
I remember when I was walking through the hospital and suddenly I was being chased by some frakenstien looking doctors ..wow!! spooky

Submitted by Dr. Gonzo (not verified) on
Here's a shot I took of one of the former staff quarters several months ago. http://stinkfoot.org/pix/EJW_6151_R.jpg

Submitted by Curious Resident (not verified) on
Did anyone work here with Eugene Rosen? If so, what was his position?

The buildings are beautiful here. I visited over the summer. I'm a photographer/urban explorer and have a passin for mental hospitals. I would have loved to go inside some of the buildings, but as stated in the article, it patrolled by the police. I was almost kicked out but the officer saw that I was only taking pictures so he allowed me to continue. I still have the desire to enter one of the buildings, so I'm pursuing the town in finding out what it would take to legally get in to it. So until then, I just have to admire it from the outside.

Submitted by Damon F (not verified) on
Isn't it a bit odd that within a couple of hours on Dec 15, in the first comments on this thread in two months, two former employees post that contrary to reports nothing bad ever happened here?

Submitted by susan (not verified) on
anyone remember a nurse there that hung herself?

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
If anyone is interested in going I just wanted to make a note that it is not trespassing as stated in the "if you go" above. It is only illegal to go inside of the buildings but the campus grounds are open to the public. There are soccer games held on a side field and people use the campus as a place to walk dogs daily. I live nearby and go frequently, I've also been inside several buildings so if you have any questions regarding any of it I'd be happy to speak with you!

Submitted by Joel (not verified) on
I have recently been in contact with a wonderful gentleman who is a former staff member of FHH. This is his reply to my question about whether or not he thinks the old place is haunted. "I'm quite sure that the place is haunted. How could it be otherwise? So many souls suffered there from mental illness and forced into a lifestyle that they couldn't understand, surrounded by screaming or totally unresponsive fellow patients locked up for their self-protection and the protection of others. How could they not, by the laws of metaphysics, be bound to this place even after death? At least that is how I see it.... I have seen and experienced "ghosts" and assorted phenomena in the course of my life. Therefore I KNOW that places and locations are haunted when intense emotions and unusual suffering took place there. Lobotomies were the "rage" in the 1950's and were performed in most, if not all mental hospitals. So I do believe that they were also performed at Fairfield Hills Hospital, although I don't know for certain. If so, this was before my time which begins there in 1963. As to "Eugene Rosen", I would want to say that I don't remember him -- but then, somehow, the name does seem to have some meaning in a very distant way... So, I'm not sure either way, yes or no...."

Submitted by Pookie (not verified) on
Wait a minute. Gene Rosen worked at this place??

Submitted by james Tully (not verified) on
hello my name is James Tully I'm trying to get answers about my birth mother I was adopted my birth mothers name is Nancy. Ct, adoption agency said she was there in 1951 then she got pregnant with me born 5/21/1970 Nancy gave me the name James then the state took me from Nancy I want closer and justice I can be reached at (210)900-0941 or email me at [email protected] Nancy was the youngest of 7 kids taken she had club foot

Submitted by james (not verified) on
Please read this and lift it up in prayer please if you can help we would love all the help ty. This is what my search has found so fare all the addresses are dead when we in 1990 went to see Nancy It was said she said no but I have paper work showing that to be totally a lie when I was in foster care she would come see me regularly with gifts.when the time came for me to be put up for adoption she freaked I have all this in black and white. This is a time sensitive matter to find her. Like I said all the addresses and phone number lead me to nothing all the phone numbers are diisconnected. the last addresses in Chicago IL comes back as a vacant lot. Please find it in your heart to help find her or help me find her I just want to see that she is okay. I'm not out to hurt her. In 1990 when me and my best friend went to the group home to see her they are saying Nancy said no witch its a lie her case manger went in talked to her came out and said in her opinion she felt it was not a good time to meet her. She said in front of my best friend Kelly I could write letters to Nancy through Dora Hale II was so crushed by this so I let it go for a short time. I have been trying for 23yrs to find her again just to uncover lie after lie and thing not matching up. I just pray every day my mother is okay I have lived on the streets its no joke. Addendum of Nancy b. 1942 ??/??/1942 Nancy was born in Connecticut 12/??/1942 Removed from parents & placed in foster home. ??/??/1947 committed to the commissioner of welfare as a result of neglect along with her siblings 06/??/1949 Nancy underwent emotional, intelligence and psychiatric testing 9/??/1949 indicated that she was immature, impulsive and had a low IQ 10/???/1950 the school system indicated that despite great attempts improve her school conduct, there were showing no progress educationally or behaviorally. Arrangements were made to have home bound instruction. 01/??/1951 home bound instruction occurred until her placement at Children’s Village 05/??/1952 Children’s Village found that her adjustment was poor and requested Nancy’s Removal from the program she was then admitted to Southbury training school Nancy was constantly resided at ether Southbury Training School or Fairfield Hills Hospital 06/??/1956 Nancy’s first admittance to Fairfield Hills Hospital 03/??/1959 Nancy’s was discharged back to Southbury Training School 08/??/1961 Nancy was readmitted to Fairfield Hills Hospital 03/??/1969 Nancy went back to Southbury Training School 6/??/1969 Nancy went back to Fairfield Hills Hospital 0 5/21/1970 Nancy was in Danbury hospital. 1/11/1970 Nancy’s parental rights were terminated at the Bridgeport Juvenile Court I ran additional checks on your birth mother's current location. We use a locator database that is used by government agencies, the courts/legal system and police departments. The checks are run off of her social security number and her name/dob. The following information is shown: April1992-April 1996 lived in Torrington, CT (there were three different Torrington addresses, all appear to be group homes) Altamonte Springs FL- there is note of one address in March 1996 July 1997 She had a PO Box in Oklahoma From 1997-2002 There was a PO Box in Casselberry FL From April 08-October 08 There was an address in Chicago IL. There is no current address for your birth mother in any of our systems. All information ends in 2008. If she was homeless and living off the grid, that could explain this. It is also possible that she is hospitalized or has passed away. Of note is that I have found the information for your birth mother's brothers. I have noted that both Roy and Jacob have passed away. Roy was born in 1934 and died in 2011 in Connecticut. He lists two sisters as having survived him- Ann (who I think is Theresa Ann b. 1943) and Betty (who I believe is Bessie Louise b. 1935). He does not list your mother or George. Jacob's obituary is not online. He was born in 1938 and died in 2008 in Massachusetts. There is no current information for George, who was at one point living in the Waterbury area. George is also not listed in the obituary for Roy. It is possible that he passed away some time ago. As I was going through all of the notes from Dora, I noted that she listed all of the information about your mother's siblings. Some of these siblings are not listed in your adoption record and I am not sure why, perhaps they are half siblings. Dora contacted Roy. In 1990, he reported that had not heard from your birth mother for many years. She contacted another brother, Alfred. In 1990, he told Dora that he had received a letter from Nancy that was disorganized and rambling and indicated that she was "disowning her family". He said that she was living in NJ at the time but couldn't remember the town. Dora reported that though Alfred and Roy lived a street away from one another, they did not stay in touch with each other. George, another brother to your mother, was attempted to be contacted and never responded to Dora. In July of 1990, Dora found that your mother was an adult ward of the state. She was living in a group home in Torrington, CT but because of emotional problems, she was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital (Dora's notes don't indicate which one). According to the notes, you and Dora met with the director of the group home, Jane. This meeting occurred in August 1990. It was said that your birth mother's emotional state was very fragile and that contact was not a good idea. In October 1990, Dora spoke again with the group home director, Jane. At this time, it was said that your birth mother wanted no communication at all. Dora closed her search case as a refusal. In terms of contacting Dora, she has retired from the agency and therefore I cannot contact her. I hope this helps you understand more about what happened. Collapse this post

Submitted by MNick (not verified) on
I went to FFH a few months ago and took a lot of pictures of the exterior of buildings. If anyone would like me to send them, let me know. [email protected] I am part of a paranormal group and we did go check out this place, we did have our video and audio going and did catch a strange evp of what it seems a young girl with a southern accent.

Submitted by Frank (not verified) on
I lived there 85-87

Submitted by Chunk (not verified) on
James Tully, I know that the Connecticut State Library has records. You can find them in RG 021, subgroup 7 at the Connecticut State Library & Archives and arranged into three series - Patients, 1933-1995 admission and discharge records; Personnel, 1934-1943 records of separation; and Medical Staff Records, 1937-1974 records of birth and deportation, autopsies, and medical examiner cases. The only problem is, they are restricted due to state laws. I would call and talk to the librarian. You might be able to get them released under the FOIA, since you are family. Good luck

Submitted by james (not verified) on
At chunk ty but thats no help tryed that this has been a 23yr search I have her last address in 2008 and stops. So if anyone know Nancy V bishop let me know ahe was There in 1969 I was boen 1970 plwase help

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
Anyone know why fairfieldhills.com no longer exists? It was a great website.

Submitted by Frank (not verified) on
85 -87 Adam house aka bridgewater house

Submitted by Frank (not verified) on
85 -87 Adam house aka bridgewater house that's where I lived

Submitted by MerryMac (not verified) on
@Christine - that website was put together by a student at Newtown High School, Matthew Hunt. Matt passed away in 2004; I think either his classmates or his family kept the website live in Matt's memory but no longer. Here's a link to the obit: http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Newtown-students-mourn-classmate-264490.php There were some great photos there.

Submitted by MerryMac (not verified) on
http://newtownbee.com/Features/2003-07-03__12-16-54 That's more info on how the website was started.

Submitted by Correction oOfficer (not verified) on
I worlked at the CT Dept of Corrections, Fairfield House (W.S.A. T .U) opened from 1989 to 1995. And that place was creepy. I tranfered out to the Maxium Security Prison Garner in Newtown,Ct in 1995 and Garner was half as Creepy as Fairfield House. Place still gives people the creeps.

Correction Officer: I remember how pissed the staff was when they built the prison next to the dam KID'S building. I was next door at the Housatonic building- next to the dam Morgue. Whatever was going on there seemed to focus in the tunnels mainly. If I loved anything about that place and that was the grounds beautiful lawns and the Mayor's Horse area. The air was very cold and clean in the dead of winter which I loved. What I give to maybe visit or go camping up there some time in near future.. I wonder- is all that evil shit moving into the new buildings on the grounds?

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
@MerryMac ah that's very sad, thank you for the information!

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
I thought I should post my experience at Fairfield Hills yesterday which will also serve as a bit of warning for fellow adventurers. A friend and I were walking around the campus taking pictures when we saw a very easy way to get into the building with the gymnasium (not sure of the name) it looked as if someone else had recently broken in which gave us very easy access. The inside of building was pretty awesome, we explored all floors, once you get past the wet decay and strong odor of asbestos it is a great sight! What was not so awesome was the security guard who apparently saw us either come in or out and called the Newtown police. We were totally honest and the cop was extremely nice and gave us a simple trespassing ticket for $92. He said it had to be done because there has been a lot of activity inside the buildings recently. I have been to Fairfield Hills and in some of the buildings multiple times and never had a problem so the security of the campus seems to be higher. I would be happy to supply you with the information on how to enter this building (I saw multiple ways in) but I suggest you give it some time until the security dies down again. It is, however, very legal to enjoy this beautiful campus from the outside which is what I will continue to do!

I have passed Fairfield Hills in Newtown, CT., just to get from one area of town to get to another area of town. I don't know how true this is but, I was told that there are under ground tunnels, underneath the buildings, that the patients dug to try to escape. You know all this news about the mentally ill folks, and the shootings around the country going on. In my opinion, the Governor should re-open re-furbish both Fairfield Hills and Seaside Sanitorium, hire the best psychiatrics, the best medical people around, and put the mentally ill in these hospitals. Make sure you put bars on the windows. Its going to cost the state of CT., a pretty penny but it might be worth it to help those who are sick. Make sure there are no guns, no knives, no syringes, nothing to hurt themselves or others.

Submitted by Rachel (not verified) on
I just wanted to point out the serious lack of correctly spelled words in some of these comments. I urge you all to utilize proper grammar and spelling-- or perhaps the ghost of an old English teacher will haunt you forevermore.

I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you're going to a famous blogger if you aren't already ;) Cheers!

Submitted by Ellen Dages (not verified) on
During the 80's a fellow from an adjacent neighborhood repeatedly escaped from Fairfield Hills. At least that was the story. No one ever rushed to turn him in as he wandered around town. I always suspected he was an undercover cop as the abuse of drugs and alcohol was very prevalent.

Submitted by Diane (not verified) on
My brother was a resident for several years at the APT/Daytop program there in the late 80's. I don't remember him saying anything about it being spooky or weird, but that doesn't mean anything. It was a great program and really turned his life around.

Submitted by Sean (not verified) on
I went back in June of 2012, and if this is the spot I am thinking of they built a town hall behind what is left. There was a really awesome security guard that knew quite a bit of info on the area and very polite. Just said don't go in (which of course I couldn't comply). Luckily, while walking around the main facility there was a door, on ground level, that myself and two others were able to open and walk right in. This was a very spooky place with extremely eerie feelings. Our exploration through ended when we were all doing our on thing taking pictures on the top floor when we heard a loud moaning sound. It was time to get out, as the sun was setting as well. It's sad that it seems you can't access it anymore. I would love to go back again. Just be inconspicuous!~

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
@Sean That sounds like an awesome experience! You can still access most of the building, I went inside one this February and have seen entrances to many buildings. Contact me if you want details!

Submitted by Sean (not verified) on
@Christine I would love to know how to get back in and info into any of the other buildings left on the property would be greatly appreciated!

Submitted by MajorTalon (not verified) on
Okay, so I'm a Nordic Pagan. Before you question me, this has to do with my experience. On Saturday, the 27th, me and some others celebrated Walpurgisnacht, a night where the veil between the world of the living and the dead is thinnest. Me and my friends were heading home for the night, when we rove through the grounds. It's not good. I felt... something like oppression? Yeah, that seems like a good word. The place gives off a bad feeling. If you think you can feel spirits when they are near, do not drive near the place at night, as it's not pleasant feeling, take it from a former atheist.

Submitted by Amanda (not verified) on
Does anyone know anymore about the death of Matthew Hunt (the boy who created the website)? I have been looking at both sides of the Sandy Hook shooting and I am just so confused as to how and why Adam Lanza would have had NO records of any sort for 3 years... It seems like this boy, Matthew Hunt, was working on exposing some things about the dark history of the asylum. The article states that his death is a complete mystery and he was only 18. If anyone knows more about the details of Matthew's death or has any type of photo of him, it would be much appreciated. Right now, it's interesting that the only photos of this boy emerge from when he was 18 - 19 and that is the time that this boy in Sandy Hook mysteriously died while trying to uncover the asylum... Could be coincidence, but who knows? The fact that Gene Rosen "worked" there and had a wife there is also interesting.

Submitted by MerryMac (not verified) on
Yours is not a unique experience; many people have had bad vibes around the grounds. For me it happened in broad daylight while walking around with my son, snapping photos of some of the buildings. I was also using a little app for my iPhone called Ghost Radar, and it went wild with its readings of EMF emissions. Now, I tend to lean toward skepticism when it comes to the supernatural, but there were just too many oddities. One of the 30 words that came up on GR was "Eddie", capitalized just as you see. A man named Reginald Eddie oversaw construction, and apparently was instrumental in running the place in its early years. Other words that came up were: pond, mad, accident, belt, crowd, Sam, examine, Maria, attack, fought, ill, river and medicine. Believer or not - eerie combinations of words.

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