The Damned Story: Originally built as a facility to treat children with tuberculosis, Seaside Sanatorium has had a long history serving as a medical facility. Overlooking Long Island Sound, it has also been a home for the elderly, a medical hospital and a facility to treat the mentally handicapped.
Opened in the early 1930s, the building itself was designed by the renowned architect Cass Gilbert, who also designed the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington as well as the famed Woolworth Building in New York City and the landmark Union Station in New Haven. Its first young inhabitants were sent there as a remedy for their affliction as it was thought the fresh air and sunshine would be beneficial. In 1958, the building took on a new purpose for three years, treating elderly folk, then became a home for the mentally challenged. Unfortunately, in the early 1970s it came to light that some patients were being violently abused by some of the staff; in the mid 1990s, patients were turning up dead a at a higher rate than normal.
With many unanswered allegations and after decades of service, Seaside Sanatorium was closed in 1996; it has passed through the hands of a few developers, getting hung up in various protracted legal battle. Eventually the state gained ownership.
In 2016, the state of Connecticut announced plans to make the property a state park. The goal is “to expand shoreline recreational opportunities for state residents and visitors.” A few of the architecturally significant buildings are being renovated, and the grounds are being spruced up.
The New England Paranormal Video Research Group investigated this place in 2007, thinking that with Seaside’s long, dark and sometimes tragic history—and spooky, abandoned vibe—it might be a good target for paranormal investigation. They were able to capture a few EVPs [Electronic Voice Phenomena] and a few spirit orb photographs. The group’s resident sensitive also experienced some strong sensations.
Our Damned Experience: Cameras in hand (as always) we visited Seaside Sanatorium on an overcast day in late April 2011. We parked outside the main entrance with all the other people who were enjoying the grounds—it must’ve been “Bring Your Dog to Seaside Day”—and walked onto the property.
It’s easy to see why you would build a facility dedicated to helping people convalesce at this peaceful, scenic location—it has a wonderful view of Long Island Sound and the salty ocean air is refreshing.
The buildings are all boarded up, but it’s easy to see that when they were open and functioning, the whole place must’ve been very appealing. Unlike many other state institutions, time and effort was clearly put into the aesthetic qualities of building design—it’s reminiscent of a classic New England private school.
We wandered around the buildings—as you can see in the photo gallery, the exteriors have been allowed to rot and the interiors are pretty much trashed at this point; it appears that some equipment was even left behind. We didn’t notice or see anything unusual or weird, although Kate says she felt some odd vibes. Like any abandoned place, there’s a certain level of inherent creepiness, to be sure. (Especially the abandoned playground equipment!)
Unlike many other visitors, we didn’t encounter any security guards on the grounds, but then again, we never tried to get into any of the buildings—even with all our tetanus shots up-to-date, we were content with sticking our camera lenses through the broken windows and snapping away. The place looks like it’s ready to come down fairly easily.
Still, even without going inside—which we do NOT recommend or condone—it’s well worth a visit.
If You Go: Seaside Sanatorium is located just off of Shore Road in Waterford (down the street from Harkness Memorial State Park), on a scenic stretch of Connecticut coastline. The grounds are open to the public, but the buildings are absolutely off limits. It is recommended to park away from the property and walk over to it.