Mansfield Training School, Mansfield

February, 2011 by Ray Bendici
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Courtesy of the National Register of Historic Places

The Damned Story: Although there are thousands of state residents who have attended the University of Connecticut, very few are familiar with the story of the Depot Campus, and how it was formerly the Mansfield Training School. Or how the buildings belonging to the former mental hospital are believed by some to be haunted.

In a demonstration of how political correctness is a 21st-century invention, the Mansfield Training School originally started in 1860 as the "Connecticut School for Imbeciles," and was located in Lakeville. As hard as it is to believe, that name eventually offended someone, and in 1915 it was re-christened the "Connecticut Training School for Feebleminded." (Yeah, that's much better.) In 1917, it was merged with Connecticut Colony for Epileptics in Mansfield, where the new 350-acre campus was opened under the official banner of the Mansfield Training School and Hospital.

With its isolated location and bucolic setting, the Mansfield Training School was an ideal place to treat those afflicted with mental disorders. For the next 60 years it was home to residents who suffered from all sorts of mental afflictions. At the height of its use, it housed over 1,800 residents and featured over 50 buildings, most of which were devoted to patient treatment. It also had a small farm that provided occupational therapy for some of the epileptic patients in addition to food for the facility.

Sadly, like other hospitals that dealt with mental illness, there were allegations of poor conditions and abuse, although many, many more people were helped rather than hurt during their stays. Overall, the facility appeared to have a dedicated, caring staff and a good reputation.

After numerous lawsuits and concerns about the conditions, however, the Mansfield Training School was closed in 1993; patients were sent to more modern facilities and institutions throughout the state. A few of the most dilapidated buildings were demolished while others became part of the University of Connecticut as its Depot Campus. Another part of the original campus was annexed by the Bergin Correctional Center, a level-2 minimum security facility for male offenders.

In 1987, the Mansfield Training School was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Again, despite the mostly positive, caring work that went on here (and at other similar facilities), there seems to be a story or two of negative incidents, any one of which is enough to initiate stories of restless souls and troubled spirits.

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Consequently, there have been reports of spirit mists and orbs here, as well as experiences involving unexplained voices, sounds and shapes. The building of the former Knight Hospital is one place where unexplained phenomena is still allegedly observed.

Courtesy of National Register of Historic Places

Paranormal groups, such as PROOF, have also investigated a few of the buildings, and claim to have found evidence confirming paranormal activity, for what it's worth.

Our Damned Experience: When we visited UConn's Ballard Institute of Puppetry in 2010, we mentioned that the museum was located in an old, seemingly abandoned area on the Depot Campus, which as it turns out, was part of the Mansfield Training School. So we were there without even realizing it!

As we mentioned when we visited, that area of the campus feels a bit like a forgotten part of the campus. Now we have a reason to go back and explore a bit!

If You Go: The grounds of the former Mansfield Training School are now part of UConn's Depot Campus on Route 44 in Storrs, and thus are open to the public. As mentioned, the Ballard Institute of Puppetry is here, in addition to the Center for Clean Energy Engineering, Human Resources, Community School of the Arts and Chaplin Cottage.

On the other side of Route 44 is the Bergin Correctional Center, which also features some of the former training school campus, although it's not exactly open to the public in the conventional sense.

On the UConn side, some of the old structures remain empty, and have been overgrown by weeds and ivy. Obviously, visitors are vigorously discouraged from entering these buildings.

Comments

Submitted by Brittany (not verified) on
Haha Paranormal Witness is precisely why I decided to research these old buildings. I was simply curious to see if their history was as sinister as the show made it seem.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I'm watching paronrmal witness and I seen this so I decided to look it up and everything so far that read has happen in the show

Submitted by robert (not verified) on
amanda from P.R.O.O.F just saw the syfy show about this place that why im here too lol i was curiuos

Submitted by SC (not verified) on
Don't bother going anymore, not sure when this was published but after a slew of vandalism two years ago the state came through and weld shut all the metal doors and reinforced all the wooden doors and windows to keep people out. It's a shame, before the word spread about the place some really amazing photos could be taken, a lot of equipment, patient records, and just about everything you could imagine were left behind.

ive had the pleasure of being in here once. it would be nice to go back again sometime. http://newkirk.biz/gallery/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=713

Submitted by Tim (not verified) on
No one was ever killed in the Greenlawn mansion. This building was for staff living, not for clients. Most of the surrounding houses on Rt 32, hillside rd and spring manor farm were also for staff. I can confirm that at one time the steam and utilty tunnels did connect to the house but at the time of a 1969 property assessment I've read the heating was oil hot water. The few homicides I am aware of took place in the residential buildings. In one case a male client punched another male client in the stomach. That client later died in his sleep from internal bleeding. The staff I met over the years of my visits there, for the most part, cared about the clients. MTS, for many decades, was considered at the forefront of treatment for the retarded. Most of the haunting stories about MTS are simply not true. I explored the knight hospital, storehouse, dimock hall, Matthews hall, sequin hall, the cafeteria, carpenter shop, merit hall, Binet hall and many others and never felt scared or in the presence of anything paranormal. I may be able to answer any questions about the facility that anyone here has. The number one question I've seen on most forums is "was there a morgue in knight hospital?" Yes. It was in the basement facing the powerhouse. It had spaces for two bodies. The fridges were removed and sold in 1991.

Submitted by chris (not verified) on
I'm sorry, but I question your ability to rate, with any sense of accuracy, the level of care at a facility like this when in this day and age you still use the word "retarded".

Submitted by hillybae (not verified) on
Seriously! Much of the older generation still calls them retards. Not everyone has switched over to autistic. I wouldn't be so judgmental

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Just because someone is mentally disabled does not make them autistic. There are many different disabilities that these individuals may have that are not autism. And just because some people call them retards does not make it right. Many older people are racist and that doesn't mean it's ok for everyone to be.

Submitted by Suzanne (not verified) on
Words, especially those that develop a negative association, fall out of favor. It will only be a matter of time that "developmentally disabled" will fall out of favor & people can't believe they ever used that term. Much the same as "retarded" or "feebleminded". Even the word "special" has a negative meaning in my area. Its understanding of disability that takes away the stigma of a word. but as long as ignorant people use medical diagnoses to put someone down, we will have to search for a new terms.

Hi! Just saw this article and wanted to say hello. My name is Amanda and I'm Executive Director for P.R.O.O.F Paranormal. Thanks for mentioning my team in this article. It's an honor. I love your website!!! Our investigation of the former MTS superintendent's home will be featured on SyFy's new show Paranormal Witness premiering in September. Be sure to check it out! Happy Hunting! www.facebook.com/teamproof

Submitted by MJ Whited (not verified) on
Just watched this and and looked it up on my phone. It was scary to watch, but what was even more scary was seeing the exact same house on my phone. I guess that's when the reality hit that I'm not one of the FEW to experience things of this nature but one of the many. Great series by the way. Happy hunting on the haunts. Thank you for having the courage to investigate the things I wish I could. Sincerely.... MJ

Whoa, ok so last nights episode of Paranormal Witness said "The Mansfield Mansion" which from the start kinda made me step back because I live very close to Mansfield CT. I started to watch the show on youtube this morning and the first thing I see is a house that looks a lot like Mansfield Training Center's architecture. Sure enough, they look at this house and mention a sign for Mansfield Training School inside the decayed and dirty old house. *BLINK... BLINK* Yes, indeed, they tried to RENT/SELL some of the buildings at Mansfield to live in! This was 1994 about a year after they closed the place. I have done a lot of UE there and have had a couple strange experiences in different buildings over the years... Mansfield Training School: http://tinyurl.com/6gr7393 Paranormal Witness SE01 EP04 Mansfield Mansion Part 1 http://tinyurl.com/4xkwgr4 Part 2 http://tinyurl.com/6ef4px7 Part 3 http://tinyurl.com/3u8ba72 I wonder exactly which building on the property it was... My pics of the place can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/3kx6ftu Enjoy U.E.

I worked for 5 years as a technical writer for UConn Engineering at that site, where one building was taken over by the Precision Manufacturing Center and the Environmental Research Institute. Half of our building was offices and labs, and the other was suitably ruined and dusty (doors locked). Rumors went around that one wandering employee found a room with paddled walls and manacles, and a story went the that the departing staff of the old mental institutions wrote chilling parting messages on the blackboards. I assume these are partly exaggerated facts going through the legend process. My colelagues and I did wander around a large dark, duty auditorium with a stage -- one's voice echoed very dramatically in there from the stage. Taking a lunch-hour walk around the grounds' abandoned buildings (now many are being used) was definitely a Lovecraftian experience! Delicious scenery for this here fantasy writer, any way.

Submitted by Annette (not verified) on
I grew up in Willington Ct, the next town over. Our 8th grade graduation (as well as many years prior and after) were held in the auditorium. My mother's friend was a nurse there and we sometimes would go to movie night with the residents. Never really had any eerie feelings there.

Submitted by Charlotte (not verified) on
It was late 1950s when I worked at Mansfield. I was very happy to read the good words about the staff. We did take good care of the residence and most of us enjoyed our work. We were well trained both in school and hands on. The only thing that really disturbed me was the medical classes when the patient was brought on to a stage and all the abnormalities were pointed out. Still don't like that memory. I worked most of the "female" buildings, the hospital and the morgue. We also cleaned. You could eat off those floors. We took the kids on a bus to the Shrine Circus and other entertainment. It was a city unto itself and for that time it was a good thing. Annette, did the nurse you spoke of raise boxers? Just can't think of her name. Thanks.

Hello everyone, my name is Joseph Gallant and I am the Founder and Operator of P.R.O.O.F or Paranormal Researchers OF Odd Findings. Unfortunately, during the airing of Paranormal Witness and the start of this thread I was out of town and unable to comment on anything in the above mentioned format. Although I appreciate everyone's opinion and comments regarding MTS and our investigation of the Moore family haunting, I refuse to battle between whats real and what some consider to be fabricated. @Tina, you are absolutely correct in your statement " it was not an asylum for the insane, it was a facility for the mentally retarded". The Mansfield Training School and hospital was a secure residential institution for individuals with dual diagnoses "Mental Retardation and developmental disabilities. The grounds were comprised of several different buildings or units that were "guided" in providing a stable environment with cognitive behavioral treatment for both children and adults of all ages. In a provisions report provided by the state of CT and the Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) the facility was under constant investigation for the excessive use and misuse of physical and chemical restraint and seclusion. This report also included provisions behind the hundreds of abuse and neglect allegations made against current facility staff. You have stated that your "Parents" had worked for MTS and question the truth behind abuse allegations, including the existence of tunnels running the campuses property. I work for the state of CT, for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). 78% of the clients I work with, were at one time in their lives a patient at MTS and unfortunately, I have heard my fair share of horror stories. Out of that 78% 32% of these previous MTS patients are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or (PTSD). This diagnosis being the ending result of their undignified treatment received at MTS. FYI: There are tunnels that are lined throughout the entire property, this to include the maintenance buildings. For verification of the tunnels existence, I will post a link or provide photos of the original layout of the facility, thus including the tunnels. FYI, NO ONE has or will receive any monetary compensation for their involvement with the haunting of Mansfield mansion. The Moore family simply wanted their story told, they wanted someone out their to have had the same experiences so that in the end they wouldn't feel so alone. In fact the Moore family has agreed to allow one party per month consisting of five individuals the opportunity to conduct their own paranormal investigation at the residence and guess what? That's right for FREE. Now, if it were, we were trying to make an easy paycheck, why wouldn't we charge for these visits, say like the Lizzy Borden home or the PA state penitentiary? We don't want money or even recognition, we want people just like us to experience the pleasure of the unexplained, that's it. If anyone has any additional questions please contact DamnedCt.com with your inquires and they will be answered with P.R.O.O.F soon to be Q&A format. Goodnight everyone!

Submitted by mimi (not verified) on
I was a nursing consultant in the 1990's. I worked for a very large healthcare company. Most of my job was investigating potential acquisitions. Due diligence. My first visit to Ct was to look at a small chain of nursing homes. I was shocked!! Ct has the worst nursing homes I had visited. Ct it a rich state! I wondered if the small group of homes I was evaluating was particularly bad so I "mystery shopped" about 12 unrelated properties and found the same thing. I have accessed facilities in Ms, Fl, Al, La -- None compared the the terrible conditions i found in Ct.

Submitted by TC (not verified) on
Linda - the files of the patients are held by the states archives, you should be able to find some information on if she was there for real. http://www.cslib.org/archives/finding_aids/RG170_001.html http://www.cslib.org/agencies/mansfieldstatetrainingschool.htm

Submitted by Linda H. (not verified) on
My late Aunt was placed in this school, because in the 1940s unwed mothers-to-be were labelled "mentally defective", their children taken from them at birth. Trying to track down what happened to these babies has proven to be very difficult. I'd like to see more original pictures of the buildings, inside and out, before they deteriorated.

Submitted by michelle (not verified) on
@ amanda and P.R.O.O.F just finished watching syfys paranormal witness and the show is why I got curious and googled MTS

Hello people...I just saw a story about the Mansfield School on syfy on Sept. 28, 2011 and from Amanda from PROOF, is this story really true on paranormal witness..It scared the Hell out of me !!!!! I just need to know if this scary stuff is really true and to be believed of is it just good Television ?? Now just for the record Paranormal Witness must step up their game and show more real evidence such as real video or snapshots, pictures or more tangible stuff to back up their stories if this is in fact real stuff that actually took place...COME ON NOW DON'T BE LIKE ALL THE OTHER SHOWS....GET REAL PROOF !!!!!!!!!

I do love Paranormal witness but it is missing real proof...show us real photos or videos to back up these well told sories, ok .

Submitted by jenny (not verified) on
Hi guys I jsut saw the show that alice saw on paranormal witness, and would like to know if that story is true!! just watched it, wished we could see more about the house and stuff, more than anything about the little girl that died. thanks!!

Submitted by madison (not verified) on
hi loved the show r u gys actors caus u made up the vids be real come on know bu it did freak me out how the bones where descoverd i herd noises oh snap help jk {just kidding} but did hear real noises ;]

i just watched paranormal witness, and i was interested to find out more, so of course i googled the place. but from what i can find online none of the stuff seems to stand true :/ oh well the show sure scared the hell out of me, but more proof from the home owners end would have been really cool!

Submitted by Shelly Walker (not verified) on
Wow, I'm freaked out!!! Just watched paranormal witness on SyFy. If it's a true story, in which I'm pretty convinced that it is, some real documentation would really be the icing on the cake!!!

Submitted by Faith (not verified) on
yeah i just saw the show as well, i started looking to see if there was anything that documented the murder and ra** in the house but came up empty, if anyone can find that i would love to know where, it made my heart pound but made me mad as well, i wouldn't live there with my babies, thats just putting them at risk for god knows what if any of the stories are true.

like the lady's have said i would like to see more pics and videos like syfy's ghost hunters.but still love the show

Submitted by Tia (not verified) on
http://mansfield.htnp.com/2010/01/30/is-a-former-mts-patient-haunting-her-home/ Interesting site, might answer a few questions for ya's!

Submitted by Cherokee (not verified) on
Man I love my DVR. I just watched tonights episode of PW and I don't know if my feelings are right or not but if they are I for one would love to stay in the house from Dusk til Dawn. I would like to see PROOF or GH go in and record all that happens and show us what they find or better yet what finds them. October is just around the corner so come on people get on it talk about a great Halloween program. I do feel sorry for all the evil that was put onto the people who resided there and were treated so badly.

Submitted by Omar Estrada (not verified) on
I watched the Paranormal Witness show and Im really confused. I looked up the Mansfield School and theres no information about a family moving in and renovating the place... The show made it seem like this family has been there a few years, and at the end the lady confirmed she was not leaving. So is this clearly just fake?

Submitted by Melonie (not verified) on
I totally believe this happened. I grew up only a few miles from the training school. Several of my family members had worked there during my childhood. All of them for very short periods of time because they could not deal with the poor treatment of the patients. One of family members was a nurse there and spoke several times of the horrible injuries she treated. I have been in the auditorium several times as a child. They showed movies for some of the cottege clients on Fridays and employees families were allowed to attend. The last time I was at the auditorium was in 1986 when my school held the 8th grade graduation there because it was the only auditorium large enough to have it. The place always gave me the creeps. As a child I wouldn't even go to the bathroom there because I was scared. a family member worked there until he retired in the maintainence dept. but I have never heard him say anything to do with the place. I have often wondered if he ever saw anything. I lived in a house on the property in 1989 for a few months and felt several unexplained cold spots, shivers and slight touches, but never any evil. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind this story is totally REAL

Submitted by Anamaria (not verified) on
Hello, My name is Anamaria and I am a Puppetry Student at Uconn.I would be interested to talk to your relative who worked at the Mansfield Training School. I want to create a performance inspired by the case of Gladys Burr one of the pacients. Thank you so much and hope to hear from you soon. Best regards, Anamaria

Submitted by Melonie (not verified) on
@Omar Estrada the house was part of the property, but is not on what most people consider the campus. It is slightly down the road. If you watch the end of the show it is very obvious what house it is. it is on Rt 32 not on Rt 44 where the main campus of Mansfield Traning School was.

Submitted by Melonie (not verified) on
@ Omar Estrada there really isn't much online about the school. It's one of Connecticut's dirty little secrets! There are several houses along Rt 32 and Rt 44 that were part of MTS, but in the last few decades have been sold off to individuals and remodeled, restored or refurbished.

Submitted by Omar Estrada (not verified) on
Oh ok well that definitely makes absolutely more sense! Thanks so much Melonie for clearing that up. It would be amazing to stay in that place. The lady said if no one belived her to stay in her house... I wanna get in contact with her and stay there!

Submitted by Stacy D (not verified) on
I just watched Paranormal Witness as well and a few things bothered me after looking additional info online. A couple different websites state that Mansfield Training School was added to the NRHP (National Registry of Historic Places) in 1987. I find it hard to believe that the broker selling the house "lost the records" and did not know this information, especially since according to numerous websites the school remained active until 1993, just one year before this family moved in. It is my personal opinion that the broker did know about the property's history but intentionally omitted the information. It's difficult to sell a house (auction or not) with such a history. On a more paranormal note, I do believe this family but wonder why they have not brought any religious group in to bless the house, or someone to help exorcize the evil spirits and maybe help the non-evil spirits move on. Good luck to them.

Hello everyone! Thank you all for tuning in tonight for Paranormal Witness and the story of the Mansfield Mansion. I'm going to try to answer everyone's questions however I'm not the homeowner so I'm not sure I'll be able to answer them all. First and foremost, for those of you who don't know. I'm the Executive Director of P.R.O.O.F Paranormal. We are the paranormal team called in by the Moore family to investigate her home. We spent about a year investigating and researching her home as well as some of the buildings of the former MTS. Back in April of this year we were contacted by RAW TV, a London based production company, most famous for "Locked Up Abroad." They were producing a new reality show called Paranormal Witness and had heard about our investigation of the Mansfield Mansion. They sent P.R.O.O.F's Founder out to Boston and he filmed with them for 4 days. He provided them with all our pictures, videos, medical records, EVP's and research. We were never told that we had been cut from the show until we watched it this evening and nothing, not even a mention of our investigation. It's honestly quite a shame, not because were out to get famous (who would want to be?!? Barely anyone in the paranormal community respects Jason, Grant, Ryan, Zach etc) but because EVIDENCE is what the fans of the show want to see. Factual evidence to prove the claims is what they are asking for. Since the premier on September 7th I've been regularly following their facebook page, the SyFy forums, etc and like 90% of the viewers, the fans, have all expressed that they would like to see the evidence, learn more of the story, etc. Anyways, enough rambling for me. Let me answer a few questions... @Alice: As I stated above, I absolutely agree. I think Paranormal Witness needs to step up its game and show actual evidence. That would set it aside from other paranormal shows and keep the fans tuning in each week. It's a good show as it is, but would be a great show if they showed real evidence. @Danielle: From your research, what did you find to not be true? I'd like to help clarify things. @Shelley: For real documentation check our website and facebook pages. Links provided below. @Faith: The documentation about the awful things that took place at the house were found at libraries and town halls. I don't know if that information is available online, since it is so old. In the coming week we'll have information posted on our website to back up those claims. @Tia: Thanks for posting the site! @Cherokee: We did go in and investigate the house! For evidence check our website or facebook page. And yes, a Halloween special would be awesome! @Omar: Amy Moore purchased the home in 1994 and still lives in it to this day. It is the former superintendent home and not directly on the property of the MTS. As Melonie stated, it's a little bit up the road however still visible from the MTS property. There are even tunnels leading from the school to home. Well, I guess that's about all. If anyone has anymore questions please feel free to post them here or to email me ([email protected]) Also, check out our website at www.teamproof.com and our facebook page at www.facebook.com/teamproof Thanks again everyone and Happy Hunting!! @Jenny: Yes, this story is 100% accurate and true. From our evidence, we believe the little girls name is "Jessica". We have an EVP in which she tells us her name. As well as during many Franks Box sessions with Amy, the name Jessica has been brought up many times, especially when mentioning the little girl. Besides that, we don't know much more but we are always researching and hope to one day learn the truth. @Madison: The people being interviewed are not actors they are the family who experienced the hauntings. However the reenactments are done by hired actors. Yes, finding human remains in the basement was very disturbing and not to mention extremely sad.

Submitted by tammy (not verified) on
Yep, i wouldve had ghost hunters, and ghost adventures out there checking that out!

Submitted by Kenny (not verified) on
...The show was based off of P.R.O.O.F.'s investigation almost 2 years ago. Just check out Tia's link & it explains it all without the little twists 4 TV

Submitted by Kenny (not verified) on
..."1308 Stfford Rd. Storrs Mansfield, CT". Just Google "Amy G Moore".

Submitted by Omar Estrada (not verified) on
I wonder if ahe would actually let someone stay...

Submitted by Kenny (not verified) on
...Only if it's still haunted that is, cause P.R.O.O.F. did a "banishing" 2 try 2 rid the spirits of her home! Who knows if it worked or not but I still would like 2 stay there 4 a week.

Submitted by Roula (not verified) on
@Melonie: what kind of horrible injuries?

Submitted by Kenny (not verified) on
...what's funny is the "banishing" may have just made things worse! Spirits don't like 2 b cast out like that! Soooo, on that note "sign me up"! ;P

Submitted by Omar Estrada (not verified) on
We should all get together and write to her and ask her to let us stay. We can start our own ghost hunt

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
If the Super's house is that haunted, imagine what the rest of the buildings must be like. I believe everything as it was presented on the television series. I lived in a haunted house myself for many years and just sold it five months ago.

wow! lots of comments since last night, most of which helped clear the air, i didn't realize that it was a home on campus and not a main building. :) but i wanna check out the P.R.O.O.F. page! that's probably were most the convincing stuff is! it would be insane to stay over night! let us know if anyone manages to do so!!!

ive been to several state hospitals for the insane and have yet to ever experience any presence, cold spots, bad energy etc. and being a photographer i can tell you here and now. i have NEVER gotten pictures of orbs in any hospital ive been in. now as far as history goes. thats a different story, all kinds of negative things happen at these hospitals, they were filled with troubled people. in a time when medical science would try anything they could think of to help these people. and alot of time these patients would hurt themselves in the process of living on these sites. its just the nature of the property. now im not saying ghosts dont exist, i have had experiences in the past. just never at a hospital or abandoned site. you can find paranormal activity anywhere. if anyone is interested in seeing my photography of these state hospitals feel free to visit my site http:\\www.newkirk.biz

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