Mansfield Training School, Mansfield

February, 2016 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 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. 

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.

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Comments

Submitted by FWL (not verified) on
Dan, I don't know if Amy wants to drum up business for her bar but based on the comments in the Q&A from the paranormal group involved, it does not appear that all of the events Amy claimed happened, on the tv show, actually happened in the home......the link to the Q&A is on comment 216.

Submitted by Gina L. Mansfie... (not verified) on
Hello, My name is Gina I was blowin away when I saw this on Paranormal Witness because I've never heard of it till tonight..My grandfather worked at a home for bad boy's,I'm just wondering if the same place all in one, although he didn't say much else about it...Thanx's so much I just needed to write this

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
don't know Gina. thanks.

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on
If you have ghosts, you have everything... Sing it Roky. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKAeSqa-67w

Submitted by Mii (not verified) on
I wonder if she would let someone stay ,I would love to go through the house and see if I get a feeling about the place . aNY WAY TO SEE THE LEDGERS OF THE PATIENTS STAYING THERE AND WHICH LIBRARY IS IT AS THERE IS A WAY TO SEE THE CATALOG ON LINE

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on
Richard wrote - "As for why others have not seen and heard what you have, I have heard that some people are just able to seen things while others can’t." - True Richard. There exists a substantial population of foks that possess these gifts. I believe they are called hallucinations. Medication seems to help control them ;~)

Submitted by Monica (not verified) on
Hi Matt, Looking at Richard's post, he 'sees' things too. Are you implying he needs medication? That's not very nice.

Submitted by FWL (not verified) on
@Gina- A "home for bad boys"? It was the home of the MTS Superintendent and his family. And, MTS was a facility for mentally challenged/retarded, both sexes, they were not housed in the residence. The show you saw contained many fabrications to make it "scarier" and more apt to attract viewers. So, unless the Superintendent's son was misbehaving, I don't think I would classify it as a "home for bad boys". @Mii-regarding a "ledger of patients", no patients stayed in the home, it was staff residence as noted above.

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on
Hello Gina, Thank you for noting my efforts. Offering medication as a solution was in jest. Yet it is a viable solution in some cases. When others fail to experience sounds and visualizations, then the possibility of hallicination certainly exists. If another person experiences the same paranormal phenomenon, then something other than a hallucination gains validity, per se. Regarding Richard, he indicates that others doubted his personal experiences with the paranormal, but later confirmed his claims. When I told people about the paranormal activity in my house, they scoffed until they came to my house for a few hours. Now they believe! Nothing other than Richard's testimony exists. What can I say? Are ghosts trying to communicate? Trying not to communicate? Both? With whom? Reading the numerous accounts of paranormal encounter results in a confusing array of oft repeated theory and missteps in trying to validate them.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
Matt, No offense taken with your post. I take it you have never experienced anything para normal? Monica, thanks for your post.

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on
Richard and Monica, Glad no offense taken. No harm meant. I have not experienced anything paranormal, other than perhaps witnessing the day-to-day administration of State Goverment ;-) Hallucination is an interesting approach to delve into the topic of paranormal and doesn't need imply insanity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallucinations_in_the_sane There are experiences that seem real, but not yet understood by science (which would define those experiences as unreal). Therefore, in my mind there is alway ample room for the consideration of ghosts. Scientific methods can either explain or explain away our current understanding. Works both ways.

Submitted by Tom G (not verified) on
Tim, If you see this posting, I'd like to talk to you about memories of MTS. I'm a former employee and worked there in the mid 1970's.

Submitted by Erik kubik (not verified) on
Tim and Tom, could you both email me at killingvector1@gmail.com I would love to chat with u both.

Submitted by Tim (not verified) on
Erik & Tom - will list my email at the end. My trips to MTS started in the eighties when my dad transferred there from another agency. Initially he worked in the Allan brown building but that was closed and his office was moved to knight hospital second floor. My family and I would meet him for lunch in the employees cafeteria. Later on during the summer I would go to work for the entire day. His job brought him all over the campus so I was able to go to the cottages, meet clients and staff etc. Later as the facility closed old buildings were cleaned out so we would go make sure no equipment was left behind. I remember the foot deep pigeon droppings in the building next to baker hall. Binet hall had sewage back up into the basement. The carpenter shop was one of my favorite locations. Full of cool stuff and the guys there were a trip. The storehouse was an interesting place to visit as well. Bill, the storekeeper was great. I found the empty jonstone and fernald halls a little spooky but not haunted. I remember the "bug man" kept his insecticide in jonstone. He drove an old ghostbusters style ambulance. Ed at the garage was another cool dude. They kept the fleet of MTS jalopy vehicles running on a shoestring. The basement of the carpenter shop ( old male cafe) was somewhat dungeon-like. Everything there was painted this awful green -- the name of the paint was "frosty mint"!! One time we were in one of the smaller cotages and a carpenter just finished spackling a hole in the wall. He was admiring his work when a clients fist came through the patch from another room! What a trip. I was able to access Alot of "off limits" areas. We had access to keys for EVERYTHING. I walked the steam tunnels a few times, starting in the powerhouse. Anyhow my email is tledger331@aol.com. Look forward to hearing from you.

Submitted by Heather Pfleiderer (not verified) on
hello my names heather i would like to know alot more about the mansfield traning school like what happend to all the people wat went on in there i heard some were killed? im verry intrested in this im olny 15 but would love to learn all that i can i heard theres some news articals on it but i cant find any please help

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
Tim, That is pretty interesting and crazy. Monica, my email is omegaman2020@yahoo.com

Submitted by Mike M (not verified) on
Hit up my Facebook page if you want to see comprehensive photos of the place now. Michael Mathis. Profile picture is the American Flag

Submitted by jordan (not verified) on
Mike M.. friend me ( Jordan Scerbo ) SUNY delhi

Submitted by g.foxxe (not verified) on
Not that I advise anyone to break and enter, but in response to the comment by SC at the top: I was there recently, and yes, metal doors are welded shut and windows boarded, but many of the buildings have partially hidden ways to get in, if you are willing to look around and maybe get a bit creative. It's still well worth the trip to anyone who is interested.

Submitted by Peggy (not verified) on
For 17 years, I had the pleasure of working with several people who had been residents at MTS. Sometime in 1995 (I think) they approached me to take a drive through the campus. As I drove around and listened to their first hand accounts of the time they spent there, I became somewhat confused. I prepared myself to hear all the horror stories, dry their tears and help them to get closure, however I could. Yes, they talked about the abuse that they witnessed and were the victims of, but they also shared memories of good times...movie nights, some compassionate staff members, late night pool tournaments, friendships that were made there, picnics on the grounds and bus trips they had taken. (As a matter of fact, on our drive through, I was the only one who cried.) While I am not trying to minimize the inequality, the abuse or anyone's pain, I just wanted to share my experience.

Submitted by Erik Kubik (not verified) on
Peggy, could you contact me at killingvector1@gmail.com regarding your experiences at MTS?

Submitted by Erik Kubik (not verified) on
btw, I would not advise anyone breaking in, not because of police, but because of the huge concentrations of black mold inside the buildings. The police will not enter the buildings b/c of the health hazard.

Hello, I'm a photographer who went a week ago to MTS. They have boarded up a lot of windows since my last trip 4 months prior On my first trip, I was able to get into several buildings to take pictures. There are many crawl spaces, but what shocked me the most was 2 vultures and lots of bird feces. Also, UConn has a lot of stuff stored away. Presently, they are cleaning out 2 buildings. My dad had an office in the Longley Building. It was moldy and uneventful.The only huge headline was that chineese students lived in the cottages paying rent to former lab director of ERI who used to be my boss.. The FBI were @Longley and cottages. It was all over the papers. What made me sad was the state of the buildings in disrepair and how the mentally challenged (not insane) had to live in a poor setting. Also, I went to cemetary @CVH where the gravestones are numbered. I document through photos abandoned places. Yes, some abuse went on. What concerns me more is that there are still people living in similar situations suffering.

Submitted by Lucille Bssiere (not verified) on
My father drove bus for the patients at the Mansfield training center in the 80's. I remember him telling us a story about how they treated the patients, they would get them by the back of the hair near the nape of the neck and yank to get them moving, the patients would be laying on gurney's in hallways for long periods of time, when asking for help the were ignored, these were patients who were knew to the facility and I can imagine were terrified and no one cared one bit...my father was very bothered by this. I believe this place could be haunted by lonely and tortured souls.

Submitted by Debbie (not verified) on
Just saying, I've been inside before and it's definitely creepy. I'm not an expert or anything, but I know my gut feeling is never wrong. Before my experience there, I was a skeptic and wanted to go in to prove to my friends that it was no big deal. Also, I had heard rumors of electric chairs in the basement of the building and was fascinated. Of course, kids have gone in and defiled a lot of the main buildings near the Puppetry building, but the feel is the same. The other houses related to the Depot School never felt the way the main buildings do, so I'm not sure why the focus is on them instead. Of course, they are hard to get into and I'm aware of the health risk/illegality of breaking in, but it's possible (side windows are still open even though the doors are welded shut). I would also be very interested to know about specific cases from people who were patients there.

Submitted by erik (not verified) on
There were no electric chairs in the basement.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
Are you talking about electric wheel chairs or the type of electric chairs used for putting people to death?

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
Just to correct myself, I shouldn't say that paranormal activity happens primarily in places with a violent past, however, proportionately it does seem to happen within these types of places more. For example it may be that fifty percent of places with a violent past are haunted where maybe only one percent of places without a violent past turn up spirits. The actual number of haunted places coming from a non violent past would probably be greater than those with a violent past.

Submitted by robert (not verified) on
<> What?? I am sure you have seen the statistics on the success of psychics in criminal investigations. Suffice to say, they do not support your contention that their work 'helps' solve crime. Exactly the opposite. As for the other stuff, the proof of any of that is sorely lacking.

Submitted by anna (not verified) on
Hello, Follow up post. Mansfield Training School is very eerie. I haven't seen any ghosts. I've heard strange sounds, but they are usually birds or wind related. It is a shame that people vandalize such places. UConn are cleaning out more buildings. At the fuel center, I saw three men taking away stuff on a sunday. I was suprised they weren't wearing respirators in those buildings. The cleaning crew left a door open. I went into the building to take some interesting photos. However, I grabbed a respirator mask from the lab. Also, the police presence has grown. I will take photographs from the outside only these days.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
Ben, Paranormal occurrences actually happen more than you think, however, if ghosts and demons do exist, the reason we may not witness them more often is their inability to maintain a lot of contact. This may because it takes a lot of energy for them to make contact. Most of the places that have these occurrences seem to have a violent past. Luckily most homes and buildings do not have a violent past. This may be another reason for the low occurrence rate. There are also residual haunts which are just caused by the minerals or elements that are prevalent to the area. This type of paranormal activity is not caused by spirits or ghosts. It seems to happen a lot in the south western U.S. As much as I believe in the paranormal, it would take more than a ghost to get me to convict someone on a jury, however, it could lead to an investigation that may turn up other more reliable evidence. Good point you make here and there are already psychic mediums that work on this to help police and prosecutors solve crime. I was always like you. I didn't believe until I actually had my own experiences.

I just saw Paranormal Witness and I saw that this was a haunted place so i came to look it up and saw that everything that was stated on the show is actually stated on these facts i would love to go and see this place and encounter some of the things that those people did.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
Tominisha, It will scare you beyond imagination.

Submitted by robert (not verified) on
LOL. Went by the SyFy PW house yesterday. A lot of work being done on the house. Very updated. Business must be good.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
Nice!

Submitted by cher (not verified) on
@ madison : learn to freaking spell.....

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
Hi Cher. Amanda, that is what we are all here trying to figure out. Yes, we believe something is going on there.

Submitted by robert (not verified) on
Embellished? SyFy outright lied. It puts the rest of their 'evidence' under a light of suspicion. It also doesn't mean there are spirits there. I'm still looking for PROOF.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
Everything is embellished for television. Duh! It doesn't mean there aren't spirits there.

Submitted by robert (not verified) on
The state police collected and tested the material. There was no presumption of what it was. I agree with Moore for the most part with exception of the 'national recognition' and 'incredible investigation'. And make history? What exactly have they done here? This is essentially another haunted house story fueled by anecdotal evidence and little to no physical evidence. SyFy has given it legs but even PROOF understands how much embellishment was given to the original material.

Hello "Sam" Just to clear up what you have identified as a "lie" told by P.R.O.O.F! When state police were called to the Mansfield home they as well presumed that what was discovered in the basement resembled humane remains. Mr. Gallant the founder of P.R.O.O.F was only relaying information that was provided to them by state officials. as soon as the reports were made available to Gallant he then cleared up the confusion surrounding what was claimed to be in the homes basement. Everyone on this site is clearly jealous that P.R.O.O.F has attained national recognition for their incredible investigation and evidence collected. In fact it was such a popular case that three separate television networks have contacted P.R.O.O.F with requests to produced two hour specials on their investigation and evidence alone. So regardless of what all you haters think about them or their services, they continue to grow and make paranormal history! Have a great day everyone!!!

Submitted by Sam (not verified) on
OMG, why are people still asking the same questions which were answered months ago??? No, it is NOT real. The investigators even admitted that the story was changed to attract viewers and much of what appeared on tv was fabricated. Read up through the various posts including the link by the leader of the PROOF group, although he has also been known to lie to attract attention to his group which at one time included a false claim that "human remains were found", something he subsequently retracted. The story on tv was fiction for the most part.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
You are right Robert. Known embellishments are not proof.

Submitted by robert (not verified) on
Known embellishments? You mean lies, of course.

Submitted by Ben Smith (not verified) on
My mom just watched the episode, while I was in the next room on the computer. She asked me to Google it, so I did and this has lead me here. For the record, I am not one to believe in paranormal stuff. Death occurs all the time to humans and other creatures, and if it ghosts and demons do exist I would think they would be a more common occurrence. However, keeping an open mind on the subject, could it be that if something is haunting this house, that it is simply seeking closure? I'm brought back to that scene in The Sixth Sense when the kid communicates with the ghost and provides him with video evidence of his mom being responsible for his death. Assuming the spirits come back, rather than attempting to banish them, maybe try communicating with them and they can provide evidence to who was responsible for their untimely demise and have them brought to justice.

Submitted by robert (not verified) on
Keeping an open mind, it is factual to say that the Syfy producers blatantly made up a substantial portion of that show.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
robert, If they solved just one crime, it makes it useful, and we know there have been many more solved than just one. I agree that most of the time they don't help. anna, you were able to grab a mask without being seen by anyone?

Submitted by robert (not verified) on
Richard, this is where looking at the statistics helps. It turns out that psychics are random noise when it comes to success rate. Cold cases which where were not actively investigated had as high a success rate in being solved as those that employed psychics. Generally, the use of mediums is a last ditch effort , the last stone so to speak. I don't agree with your assessment. As little work as possible is equivalent to the success rate as psychic involvement.

Submitted by brian mac (not verified) on
In theory. But that is not what happened to them. I will not say more than that.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
stephanie, The state is only obligated to maintain patient records for five years after the closing of the institution. I don't know what happened to the records, but my guess is that most were destroyed.

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