Return to Seaside

August, 2011 by Ray Bendici
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I happened to be going through some old issues of Connecticut Circle, a now-defunct publication, when I came across an article in the March 1938 about the (then) recently opened Seaside Sanatorium. Of course, a lot of use are familiar with Seaside in its current state — an abandoned and dilapidated mental hospital right on the shore of Long Island Sound — but when it was first built, it was a shining medical facility dedicated to children with tuberculosis. From the pictures (which I scanned from the magazine) and the text below, you will see that modern medicine has come a long way in the past 70 years. This is the main Maher Infirmary, when it was first opened.   So shiny and bright! Some excerpts from the article --
Nestled before a background of woods is a rambling, four-story structure with ells coming forward at either end, gables topping the ells and a moderate steeple extending up from the very center of the long, horizontal part of the building. The structure stands almost on the beach, facing the vast stretch of blue water. But neither the architecture nor the beautiful setting will warm you up. Along the entire front of the building are handsomely designed galleries. On each ell, as it protrudes toward the water is a gallery, all protected by high railings. And upon these galleries are cots. And upon these cots, exposed completely to the howling winds and zero temperature are children. They are lying there or playing on the beds, or walking about the galleries—with no other clothing than loin cloths. That’s when you begin to forget how could you are. Here 142 children, who have learned to deny the heat and the cold for a common cause—health. They are allowing the sun and the wind and the heat and the cold to mend their bones, which have been violated by tuberculosis. The structure, with its other buildings and beautifully laid out grounds, is Connecticut’s Seaside Sanatorium ...  
 ... There is no “grind” at Seaside. Everything is accomplished in the spirit of play. Everyone is laughing. The rooms are painted to illustrate children’s stories. It is a place where snow men are builded by near-naked children in the winter and where houses are erected of pure white sand on the beach in summer. Dr. O’Brien is out there playing with them most of the time. It is a question of good food, air and sunshine, and “let nature take its course.” One of the marvelous features of the institution is he school system where children lose no time from their studies. They are taught in the snappiest classrooms in the State, with excellent desks, handsomely decorated school rooms, with their walls about all glass and their windows generally thrown open ...
... All in all it is an ideal institution, headed by an ideal man, in an ideal location. The results of treatment have proven beyond all expectations. It is said there is only one other institution like it in the country. There couldn’t be a better one—and that is why Connecticut points with pride to her accomplishment in the cure of bone and glandular tuberculosis. A trip to the institution will have a sobering effect upon a thoughtful person. He is very liable to throw his windows open quite a bit wider on zero nights. He may park his automobile a little farther away from his office the next day and hike the remaining difference. He may visit night clubs less often and leave earlier. He might take his son’s Boy Scout activities or his daughter’s Campfire program more seriously. A visit to the institution is said to be especially good for those 40-year-old waist lines.
Again, modern medicine has come a loooooooong way in a relatively short time. Thank goodness.

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Comments

Submitted by Heidi (not verified) on
It really is incredible to look back in time. -H-

Submitted by Kate Frank on
Nice photos.

Submitted by zak845 (not verified) on
Cannot wait to visit this place! Any advice on the layout would be great as we've never been here before.

im tryin to see if there is a investigation here at seaside i want to be part of it!!!!!!!

Submitted by Hector (not verified) on
How do I get there, I'd like to visit the place...

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

Submitted by jeremy (not verified) on
Just went there the other day ferry creepy but no paranormal activity to be found its a beautiful. Place

Submitted by jeremy (not verified) on
I was there yesterday beautifully place got some grate pictures I do belive its haunted the first time we went we were hearing some creepy shit and our recordings wouldn't play we had about 1minute of it and wouldn't play on bit but if you can I would go very easy to get into if your smart about it

Submitted by RizzleDizzle (not verified) on
Have been twice already this week. Beautiful place! These old pictures of it are great! If you're looking at the main building from the sea, the staircase outside on the right hand side of the playground will take you up a flight to a balcony on the second story. Here you must hop over the fence (about 5' tall) and either climb in through the broken window into the bathroom directly in front of you. Or if you walk around the same balcony (be careful people don't see you up there!) we kicked a door open from the inside so you can walk through the door so you don't have to climb through the broken glass of the window. It smells really bad inside so be sure to bring something to cover your face with! But it's awesome inside and a great place if you're into photography!

Submitted by gkingdiamond (not verified) on
My daughter and I went to Seaside today. It was very serene, with a few people walking along the beach. Most everything we read in the blog were true, however there was not a security patrol in site. As it was mid-day when we arrived, there was plenty of light. It's hard to believe this sanitorium is on such an expensive piece of property! It must have been a site 20 years ago. It's very eerie looking at the swing, slide and other items the kids would have played on. Inside the smell was pretty bad, and you could see the asbestos seperating from the pipes. The only thing scary to us were the birds flying around us. I would love to see the property cleaned up. It was very humbling looking at the buildings and wondering what went on behind those doors. A must see!

Seaside is huge. I worked there from 1988 until 1999. When I first began employment there, I was struck by the beauty of the area. Also each floor was painted in huge murals. The first (entrance) floor was painted as if you were under the sea, with fish swimming and seaweed etc. The secont floor was painted to reflect the beach/shore. The third floor was all murals of the sky. I wish that I had photograped it all, three years after I started working there ( for The Department of Mental Retardation, now The Department of Developmental Services) the entire interior was painted a bland tan.

Submitted by Marcel (not verified) on
Loralee.....email me and Iwill send you the link. I was there last weekend! Got some great pics! marcel.aube@aol.com

I tried to find this Michael Mathis to go on his page to look @ the updated pics, as I am from Ct. and now living in Texas, I love old buildings with lots of history.

Submitted by Ciara Young (not verified) on
Hello Russ, I am a student at Gateway Community College in New Haven, Connecticut. I am doing a research project for my English class and I have picked Seaside Sanatorium as my topic. It would be great if you could tell me more about working at Seaside and maybe even conduct an interview through e-mail, phone, or instant messaging. It would be greatly appreciated as I am required to do an observation by this coming Tuesday (March 12th). My e-mail is ciarayoungwh@gmail.com. Thank you and have a beautiful evening

I had no scchooling while at Seaside. I did not return to school until I was dismissed from the Sanatorium. And, was back home, in my hometown of Stamford, CT.

Yes, the interior walls on each floor was different and beautiful. But, when your sick you don't think of beauty, you just want to run away to stop the pain.

Went the awhile back ... creepy place (in a good way!)! Photos are here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2169375310107.2124829.1118433619&type=3

I visited Seaside a few weeks ago with a friend of mine, we are from the Greater Hartford area so it was quite a drive out there but it was WELL worth it. This is my first time visiting an Asylum and it was life changing. There are 3 building out of about about 5 or 6 that you can get into. This place is beautiful inside and out. The eerie feeling you have seen other people write about is real. In the very back of the main building is a play ground with slides and swings. In the dorm building (the long skinny one) the third floor is the child's ward. One side has hot pink rooms with a lavender bathroom and the opposite side had lime green rooms with a blue bathroom, and the nurses station on that floor had crazy floral wall paper. The bottom 2 floors (I am guessing those were the adult rooms). If you want to hear more about it or see some great black and white prints message me on facebook.

Submitted by Tessa (not verified) on
I went to Seaside a few months ago. It was lovely. I honestly never been somewhere abandoned and with my new Nikon D3200 this was the first place I could imagine going to. I only went into the BIG building, the back building, but I would LOVE to go into the first one. Some of the pictures I took didn't come out the best, but others did. It was creepy, I won't even lie. But I would totally go back again. :D Link to my Photo Album from Seaside; http://www.flickr.com/photos/95209165@N08/sets/72157634514665545/

Submitted by Tessa (not verified) on
If you'd like to go explore the Sanitorium with me, please feel free to message me on KIK messenger. Babydykekodi OR email me at tessalewis@live.com

Submitted by russ boulet (not verified) on
I plan on a return trip to Seaside Center in the spring. By return trip, I mean to visit my old place of employment. I worked at Seaside for 8 years in the P T Department. Got interested in visiting when I saw my office and hydrotherapy room on a web site.

Submitted by Stephanie (not verified) on
Hi Russ, not too sure how often you check this but I would love to chat with you about Seaside. As an urban explorer, I'm very curious about the history as well as the layout. What was on each floor, especially the third? What was the large hot tub used for? If you get a chance, please email me! Collinss@student.elms.edu

Submitted by Tammy (not verified) on
Russ I am working on a book and would love to chat with you. Please email me at tammyrebello@ymail.com

Submitted by Ryan Brown (not verified) on
Hey everyone, My names Ryan Brown, and I’m the lead investigator of a paranormal group out of Woodstock, CT. Last month I tried to gain permission to conduct an experiment with my team at Seaside. I first talked to the assistant manager of Waterford where Seaside is located, and they then sent me to the State level to talk to the assistant Governor. He told me that the state owns the property and won’t allow anyone inside due to hazardous materials (my guess is asbestos). This is probably true in my opinion, but It is stupid keeping that much history from people who are eager to learn about this sanatorium.

Submitted by Ryan Brown (not verified) on
We are hoping to gain access sometime this summer and conduct an investigation at some point. Check out our team New England Paranormal Investigators on twitter @N.E.P.I and Facebook. Also feel free to email us at n.e.p.i@aol.com if you have any questions about the paranormal, or if you have any paranormal problems . Best Wishes Ryan Brown (NEPI)

Submitted by Tammy (not verified) on
easy to get in. nothing left inside and very hazardous!