Seaside Sanatorium, Waterford

April, 2017 by Ray Bendici

Image by Ray Bendici

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 rennovated, 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.


Image by Kate Geruntho Frank

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, that 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 still 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.


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Submitted by Peter (not verified) on
A Rave? that is no place to have a rave let me tell you. I have been from one end of the country to the other following the Grateful Dead. I have always been rebellious, but I must say, horrible place to party unless with small group to do the beach thing. Not to do a rave in the buildings, you will certainly get caught. The guard lives on the property, he can drive around or call the cops quicker than you can get those people out, someone will get hurt....

Submitted by noah (not verified) on
Matt, Well, it *was* sort of a haiku, which is a good thing, I suppose.

Submitted by Geo (not verified) on
is this place good to explore ? and what should i know before going?

Submitted by bj (not verified) on
Yea, now that the PRICK is gone. We party inside all the time now that the F**KING PRICK is gone. just look for the openings and if there aint one just make one. night time is the best just bring some flashlights.

Submitted by Ericka (not verified) on
can anyone tell me if you are still allowed to walk the grounds? i wanna go with my family but have 3 kids dont really want to get in trouble with the kids there? can we walk the grounds and stay out of buildings and be ok? thanks!

Submitted by New England Spi... (not verified) on
Ericka: You are free to walk the grounds. The buildings are dangerous and off limits. However, you can go close to them and take pictures. I've even introduced myself to the guard and state police there, told them what I was there for and they were very receptive to that. Don't listen to these kids on here, getting into trouble and ruining it for others.

Submitted by Ericka (not verified) on
New England Spiritual Team: Thank you very much, i wouldnt even dare going in the buildings especailly with the kids but really want to walk the grounds read alot about it and it looks like a very interesting place! i cant wait to go there!

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on
The Feared One writes: "It has come to my attention that the Guard Is getting reassigned to another place and that a new company is taking over... Lets break this new guard in, he has no idea what he has coming for him. Who’s With Me?" Seconds tick away... collective yawn by fellow thread members... Feared feels optimistic... Seconds become hours... Days pass by... A few decades have gone by and only the crickets chirp in response to the invitation. They die off, but the chirp of their granchildren remains long after the Feared One has reached puberty and discovered more exciting endeavors... Feared solicits his grandchildren "wanna pull my finger." Grandchildren gaze loathsomely.

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on
Ericka asks: "can anyone tell me if you are still allowed to walk the grounds? i wanna go with my family but have 3 kids dont really want to get in trouble with the kids there?" Too cheap to visit Disneyland? I'm quite sure the kids visit to the delapitated mental hospital will be a cherished memory. Don't let anything stop you.

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on
bj wrote: "went to seaside last night wit some friends to u know, PARTY and stuff and that F**KING PRICK was there. me and my friends r planing a huge rave next week at seaside. ALL R WELCOME!!!!!!! there is going 2 b about 30 of us at the moment" Who is this F.. King Prick? Is he of noble blood or do you just admire him immensly? Despite the royal invitation, I like Jazz music and must defer. Sounds like a great source of revenue for the State. Let's see 30 x $92 fine each. Go for it. The more, the merrier. The State is desperate for revenue in this economic climate.

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on
The (un)Feared One wrote: "I’ve been over there several times, didn’t see anyone else there." I'll put things on your level. Like duuuuh man. Your invitation is soooo like not inviting. Like duuuuh. Nobody is interested in joining you at the dilapitated, filthy, vacant building for a good time hiding from the security guard (or "breaking the guard" as you word it, in your dumbed world). Gee. Go figure. What does that say about your social life? But yes, your course imaginative amblings sell you out. Its not the scum building that deters people from your company. Its the loathe of you.

Submitted by noah (not verified) on
Feared one: Comes up with ill-conceived plan that would cause more trouble than it's worth. Matt: Writes haiku concerning The Feared One's immaturity. Feared one: Generic "fat/no life/basement dweller" response. Matt: Sarcasm/suggests the Feared one is stupid and has poor social interaction. Settle down, kids.

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on
noah, (smiling) I wasn't aware of my poetic style - "haiku". Just a little musing, don' cha' worry now.

Submitted by karen (not verified) on
I agree - it is wicked creepy.....but what a waste of beautiful property....state of Ct do something with it!!

Submitted by Tom (not verified) on
So what's the deal with the security as of this weekend?

Submitted by Tommy (not verified) on
I haven't seen the guard in a very very long time. Don't think he's there anymore, day or night. I walk my dogs there every morning. while it does look VERY creepy inside, I've never seen or heard anythin. There is a definite wierd vibe. Feeling like I'm being stared at or watched. But it's definetly accessible Lauren.

Submitted by Tiffanie (not verified) on
Tried to get down there today and the only entrance that looked like an entrance was blocked with a fence and signs basically saying no ones allowed down there. Was gonna walk the shoreline from Harkness, but I didn't want to get soaked crossing the sanctuary water outlet :( Another day perhaps.

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 Chelsea (not verified) on
Erika: The grounds are really beautiful and everyone is welcome. I take my daughter there in the summer all of the time to play on the beach and go crabbing. People are constantly there walking dogs and such. We live down the street and I don't think the place is haunted. I went inside (without the kids, obviously) and it's just an abandoned building, trashed by kids pretending to be brave. We got some really great pics and it was fun, but with the risk of fines and possibly running into vagrants, it's not really worth it.

Submitted by Lauren Neslusan (not verified) on
I was planning on a visit there Sunday to take photos of the exterior of the building. Is anyone aware if the grounds accessible at this time?

Ill post some photos up on my website soon.. have some great ones on a spooky foggy day.. I did my research before i went. The property is open to the public and there is no security guards. Although when i went (6 months ago or so) it was nice out and a state trooper showed up with his family to go enjoy the beach! I do like to venture and wouldnt suggest going in this building even with masks on, thats Lead Paint, asbestos all over inside the building etc and god only knows what type of stuff from the birds that live inside and rats. I do have a photo i would like to share on this page.. cause its of something inside looking out! lol.. (someone drew a face on the window.. kinda funny)

I am looking to speak with anyone who has either worked at Seaside or perhaps was a patient there. I'll be filming a documentary at the location and would love to interview former workers and so on to include in with the film. Anyone that would like to speak to us further regarding this project, please feel free to contact me via email at or via or Facebook page, New England Spiritual Team. Filming to start in the spring. Thanks!

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on
I also visited during summers in 70's to 80's my aunt and uncle lived there for 30yrs . They ran the main dorm and the lower building. I remember snooping through basement and attic I. Remember they were the first to get an in ground trampoline I know they had to shut it down because of injuries. My uncle Tracy ran a tight ship and the clients towed the mark they call them mom and dad

Submitted by Lauren (not verified) on
Does anyone know if anything is being done to try and save this place? I would love to start up something to raise money in order to fix up the place and open it for public tours. I just set up a facebook account to help spread the word that I want to raise money in order to re-open the place..add me! Seaside Sanatorium

Submitted by chelsea (not verified) on
It was bought by a developer and is being made into condos.

Submitted by Lauren (not verified) on
Is there anything that can be done to stop it from becoming condos?

Submitted by brian strukus (not verified) on
hey i was thinking of going to look at the place if anyone could email me i would like to get some more detailed information

Submitted by David C (not verified) on
I do not mean to solicit through this site by any stretch, but I am definitely interested in forming a paranormal society. I have a lot of tools that can be used to do investigations, but I am having trouble finding people who are willing enough to come with me to the certain places. I do have certain ways to obtain information and access to different places, but I can always use a hand, if you are interested please respond to, and I will get in touch with you as soon as possible so we can form a new paranormal society.

Submitted by Maria G (not verified) on
Lot of people say lot of things about sea side. I was there for 27 years and it was a beautiful place to be in. Now is time to move on I think. Thank you

Submitted by brian strukus (not verified) on
i heard some people were going to get in through the ramp by the playground is that way not locked also i heard there is a board you can move at one point

Submitted by jean (not verified) on
How interesting. I was a patient at Seaside for 2.5 years and have fond memories of it. You can imagine, though, being taken from your home at 3 years of age and placed in an institution that large. The 2nd floor actually was a balcony (which they have closed in now) and every day, barring rain, we were wheeled outside onto the balcony with barely a blanket on...(hey, cold air was good for TB). I went to kindergarten there. My brother was also a patient, I have pictures of us on the beach, him graduating from some class or other, pictures of other patients. I'd be curious about those medical records. I sent away to the state for mine and they were very very brief, so I would like to know more. When we were discharged to home, we wanted to go back to the sanatorium. I remember sulking, sitting on the floor in my parents kitchen. Many parents did not want their children playing with my brother or I because we had a 'dirty'disease (it was actually an airborne disease, but why bother with facts when you've got fiction). My memories are not poor of the place. I had not been back there since I was 6 years old, but finally coming home from Maine, I saw Waterford exit and said what the hell, here goes. Found a firehouse, who gave directions. I can't begin to describe the feeling on seeing that gothic building. There were many buried memories which came to the fore. I never went inside, though I wanted to. Chicken, I guess. I hope to do so before I die, cuz I am not getting younger. Anyone else out there been a patient?

Submitted by hottmess (not verified) on
Went inside last week...Building is in awful shape and there isn't much left to see...No medical records,no equipment (other than some cafeteria related items).Lots of water leaking through the roof.If you face the building from the ocean side,the door to the right of the playground was open.There is a platform/ramp in front of the door.A Waterford cop drove through the lot when we were inside,but did not stop or get out of his car.The only interesting thing that happened was when we were checking out the third floor,we suddenly heard footsteps coming behind us.We were halfway up the hall,the steps sounded like they were coming up the stairs,so we quickly went behind a door to one of the smaller rooms.We waited,continued to hear them get closer and decided we better just turn ourselves in,thinking it was the officer we saw out the window.As we got closer to the stairs,they stopped and no one was there.It was creepy but we continued to the 4th floor.We spent over 2 hours walking the whole building,right down to the basement.It reeks of mold and mildew,I wouldn't recommend going inside if you have allergy problems.

Submitted by asylum ghost (not verified) on
There's records still in there. Just have to know where to look

Submitted by hottmess (not verified) on
Hmmm...That was all I was really interested in...I looked everywhere..Closets,cabinets,shelves.There was absolutely nothing in there.The only semi-interesting item was some kind of kiddie restraint chair in one of the hallways...I was very disappointed lol

Submitted by kj (not verified) on
Was the med room with all the pills empty too?

Submitted by hottmess (not verified) on
There was no meds except a bottle of cephalexin (generic Keflex) that expired in 96,that was in what looked like a library or tv room w wood paneling on the walls...I'm trying to figure how I can post a link to the pics I took.It almost looked like the state had recently come through and cleaned it up a little.There was 1 patient room bricked w stuff like old shelving,xmas ornaments and toys.The kitchen was the most intact room.

Submitted by jeremy (not verified) on
I was there yesterday a beautiful place where got some grate pics just have to be careful of secruity I do bel the believe that it is haunted had alot of weird shit went down our recording wouldn't play

Submitted by Dsully (not verified) on
My grandfather ran the place for thirty years in the history of seaside there were two deaths on the grounds and nothin else. I live right down the road I've taken my dog there hundreds of times been in the buildings at midnight and in the day, spend most of my time on the beach there in the summer. P.s. there was a joint state local police raid two months ago over 30 homeless taken off the grounds.

Submitted by Chrissy (not verified) on
I was there yesterday May 17, 2012 with two of my female friends. After being little chickens for 15-20 minutes outside we went into the building with the playground out back. Nothing to much to see one the first floor we went on. We then started up the stairs to go to the next floor but heard something behind the door and said "Forget that:" And went up the the top floor. Wasn't to much up there either. Found what looked like a rocking chair for a tall rail thin child in the middle of the hallway, kiddie toys, and not much else. Beautiful building and grounds. We would not go into the basement though, but I kinda want to now looking back, to see if I can find old medical records or something like that. Anyone know where there are some? So I can go looking on my next trip. Going to be more then just three skiddish girls though lol. I would recommend going just to look at the outside of the buildings and go go swimming/sunbathing. Can't wait to go back again. Also as far as security go. We got there about 2:20 pm and didn't leave till almost 5 and never once saw or heard any cops... Now being inside the building is another matter. I'm still a little creeped out

Submitted by asylum ghost (not verified) on
If you do topless photos in there sure

Submitted by Aly (not verified) on
Is the door by the playground still open? I've been poking around on the grounds, but my friend was too chicken to go in with me, and I wasn't about to go in alone. If anyone lives in the area and would like to meet up and go in, I'd love to get a small group together. I live in Norwich, work in New London, so I'm pretty much always available. My email is if anyone is interested!!

Submitted by Asylum Ghost (not verified) on
Nice to see some girls exploring! not too often do you hear of all girl groups heading through places like this for more than obvious reasons. I myself have never been in the basement either, and while these buildings for the most part are cleaned out their arcitechture/location is beautiful. What?! Sunbathing?! man thatd be a site to see from outside one of the windows. Everytime I go its usually an old person walking their dog :(

Submitted by kj (not verified) on
You guys are lucky when i went they had just reinforced everything two weeks prior & you couldnt get off the basement floor... The neighbors also called the security guard as we went in threw only side window open.... the other access that i had read about had been newly sealed.... i was soo bummed esp being from maine so is a bit of hall to go back.... i love the building n wish i could've seen the other floors even if empty... Happy Exploring :)

Submitted by D (not verified) on
Just went there this afternoon (Memorial Day) with a couple of my friends. Very pretty scenery and a cool place to visit! We didn't go inside, though there was an open window on the ground floor of the smaller building that looked easy to enter. No sign of any security guards and there was a fair number of other people on the grounds or at the beach. If you go watch out for ticks--there's lots of tall grass on the premises and I had to brush two of them off my legs before they stuck into me!

Submitted by Jeff (not verified) on
Seaside was ok. My friend and I went down last night and sneaked in around midnight. We only had one small flashlight so obviously lots of shadows and what have you. We forced our way into several rooms and through the decay were able to discern that they were once the areas kids would sleep in. Made it to the top floor and but finally decided to descend to the basement where we drank a bottle and smoked. There was crazy mold and this one little side room where its only entrance was through a little hole in the wall. Don't know why it was there. But that was my favorite...and kinda creepiest room.

Submitted by CD (not verified) on

Submitted by Aly (not verified) on
don't have parties there, CD. seriously? its one thing to go in and check it out and be respectful, but you're just begging for them to reinstate the security there. people partying and getting caught will result in it being treated like Norwich. then none of us will be able to go back. Regardless, I went last week, and will be going again Monday, I think. If anyone wants to join me, My email is posted above :)

Submitted by asylum ghost (not verified) on
Was just here yesterday (daytime) and wow assholes have been breaking alot of windows and ruining shit lately. Then again after close to 20 years, im surprised it remained looking that good with no security for that long

Submitted by Alaura (not verified) on
I worked for about a year at Seaside in '90 for a Dr's group who was contracted to care for the residents of Seaside. They would see the patients and I would transcribe their notes. What a beautiful campus, and such a treat to get away from hustle and bustle of the office!