Undercliff Sanatorium, Meriden

February, 2017 by Ray Bendici
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Courtesy of Bing maps

The Damned Story: What is it with the state of Connecticut and creepy old mental hospitals?

For decades, the abandoned Undercliff Sanatorium, a former state health facility, sat at the base of South Mountain, near Hubbard Park in Meriden. Even though it was shuttered, some claimed it was still in use—by the ghosts of former patients.

According to the Connecticut State Library, Undercliff was originally opened in 1910 as the Meriden Sanatorium and in 1918, became the first facility in the nation dedicated exclusively to treating children afflicted with tuberculosis. The name was changed to Undercliff Sanatorium in the early 1920s, and about two decades later, it began to accept adult patients. In 1954, the tuberculosis patients were transferred to other state facilities, with many children going to Seaside Sanatorium in Waterford. Two years later, the property became part of the state Department of Mental Health and was rechristened Undercliff Hospital; more buildings were added to the main hospital, including residences for staff, and soon thereafter, it started accepting patients with mental diseases from around the region. Undercliff served in this capacity until 1976, when on May 28, the last patient was discharged and the staff was transferred to other facilities across Connecticut. It has essentially remained empty since, although a few buildings on the property are used by various state agencies, including the Department of Developmental Services.

Like many mental health facilities, even though many people were treated well and cured here, there were still dark stories attached to the property, including tales of abuse and horror, although no actual evidence of any such activity was ever been uncovered. Considering that Undercliff served for decades as a refuge for those afflicted with turberculosis and other serious diseases, no doubt that more than a few people died on the property.

Consequently, there were been numerous reports of hauntings. Some alleged to have heard the voices of children, both laughing and crying, while others claimed to have seen the shadows and spirit of children in the windows of the empty buildings. Those who ventured inside the buildings supposedly heard the footsteps of patients running from orderlies as well as the screams of the mentally ill undergoing treatment.

A few purported sightings involved the ghost of one patient who was supposedly attacked and murdered by fellow residents (again, unsubstantiated); the story went that you could see the phantom of the lost soul wandering the grounds at night. EVPs and other otherworldly manifestations were also reported to have been captured by those investigating the facility.

As it is state property, it was off limits to the general public, although it didn't prevent adventurers from trying to investigate the place on their own. Numerous pictures and videos of Undercliff taken by amateur explorers and the curious still can be found across the internet. In July 2010, three local teenagers (and aspiring ghosthunters) made headlines when one of them was injured after jumping from a cliff near the property while being chased by police for trespassing.


Further adding to the creepy mystique of Undercliff was that it was rumored to be tied to notorious serial killer Hadden Clark. In April 2000, Clark, who evidently had lived in Meriden with his grandfather back in the late 1970s and early 80s, was taken from his prison in Maryland and brought by authorities to Connecticut to show them where he had possibly buried one of his victims, but no body was ever found. Although never stated officially exactly where the search was made, it was speculated to have been on the grounds of Undercliff.

Which totally makes sense. Where else would a cross-dressing cannibal psychopath bury the remains of his victims then in the shadow of an abandoned and supposedly haunted insane asylum?

Eventually, all the buildings connected with Undercliff were demolished and the grounds cleared. However, the stories remain, reminders of a dark past.

Our Damned Experience: We never got to visit Undercliff, and now that it's gone, the opportunity is gone.

If You Go: You can't, you know, until someone builds a functioning time machine.

Undercliff Sanatorium was located on Undercliff Road in Meriden. Again. The former site is owned by state, and no trespassing signs are posted. Those caught trespassing will be arrested and fined.


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Submitted by Steve (not verified) on
Nice to see you finally got around to Undercliff. It looks like an incredible building and it's a shame to see it rot away like the fate of so many other hospitals in CT. It'd be a fun place to check out though, to see what still remains. I have seen numerous pictures online of this hospital, and I believe there are rooms that are still filled with patient records to this day. If you could get permission to venture inside, I'm sure it would be very rewarding

Submitted by Rashal (not verified) on
Where are these pictures you speak of? I was a patient there as a run away with a drug problem. I remember this place better than my own home.

Submitted by Peter (not verified) on
I was also a runaway with a drug problem. I was a patient at ADRU from 73-74. Maybe we can contact each other? It has been a long time and contact would be great.

Submitted by Jenn (not verified) on
I've driven through the property just to check it out. Would love to see inside the buildings. One building should be chosen for ghost tours. :)

Submitted by b (not verified) on
i ventured into the main building this past summer with my friends. it's very interesting inside. there's tons of files and documents scattered all over the floor. i don't remember exactly how many stories there are, but the place is HUGE. we kept getting lost. there WAS an old original chair there that was used for medical procedures, i forgot what they're called. but someone stole that since then. i didn't see any mysterious shadows or hear anything creepy, but it is overall a creepy place to be, just knowing the history. my favorite room in the main building is the theater. it's beautiful. or beautiful decay i must say. you can tell it was once GORGEOUS, but the vines moving along the floor and intertwined in the seats make it even more intriguing and pretty. if i remember correctly, there's also a tree growing on the stage somehow. but yeah, it's definitely risky going there. i don't recommend it. the cops patrol the place like crazy and i heard some state cops are actually stationed in one of the still active buildings across from the main one. they see a flashlight in one of the windows, and you're done. a number of my friends have had to run from the police for being caught there. plus it's normally hard to get into. one of the doors was busted open when we went over the summer, but they constantly board up any openings like crazy. the standard route of getting in/out of the building is climbing onto the lower roof that leads up to the second floor, then climbing through one of the broken windows.

Submitted by Rachel (not verified) on
The houses leading up to the sanitarium are still used by the state. Just two years ago I took care of someone who lived at 7 Undercliffe. It's definitely creepy there at night and the state still houses people with mental illness and mental retardation in the surrounding houses. I've never seen police in that area but if you do decide to go there, be careful because the staff and care givers who work in the surrounding houses may call the cops. I wish I could see the inside sometime, but I never had the opportunity.

Submitted by Dan (not verified) on
I ventured into under cliff successfully about 9 years ago, and besides the scattered papers and one lonely computer monitor, it was pretty empty. But by far the creepiest part was the discovery of a large steel door at the end of a corridor in the basement. Impenetrable to would be investigators. Although many attempts had been made I saw no evidence of anyone being able to get in. Curious I looked up pictures online, and concluded that whatever the door protects, it is an area that requires a large chimney, although the boiler room which has its own chimney is open and empty. This room is rumored to house a morgue / creametorium. I could by totally wrong, but I cannot find building plans so therefore I can just speculate. in conclusion creepy? Yes. Haunted? Perhaps. But I saw no evidence.

Submitted by marco trevisan (not verified) on
Hello, I've been nowhere near that structure, just watched two videos having a common detail: the abandoned, vandalized sections were supplied with electricity surely up to aug 2011; it shouldn't be a problem to divert the service to the still operating areas and exclude the closed ones, so I wonder...

Submitted by Christina (not verified) on
What the hell is wrong with you? You're telling people not to go and then you post the directions. Ray Bendici, you're an ass.

Submitted by Steve (not verified) on
I was just up there on Tuesday, March 15, 2012 and although the main buildings are abandoned and I didn't see any police, there were people working on the building to the right of the main one and three cars parked in front of the main building. There were also employees at the in use buildings at the beginning of the road giving us dirty looks when we drove past them. It doesn't look very accessible unless you go at night.

Submitted by zac coralious (not verified) on
Christina, the address and directions arent kept a secret and anyone with an ounce of thought can find them by doing a simple google search so Ray B. posting them here does nothing but confirm the grass is greenand sky is blue to those who are too lazy to go look it up on the net.

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on
anyone hear of night vision!?

Submitted by Rick (not verified) on
Even at night there are employees in the small buildings in front of the main one. When I drove by, the entire time I looked around someone was staring at me from a screen door. If you're going to try to get inside I suggest parking on the main road (not on undercliff's road) and walking up. Meaning you'd have to do it during the day and be pretty sneaky, if you don't know the layout of the land by heart (since if you want to do it at night, flashlight beams would be easily seen by employees).

Submitted by kory (not verified) on
i went there with four other friends and all we did was park right next to the bulding. This is the second time we went there in two weeks and we never had an issue with cops. I dont know what the big deal is with parking in target and walk up through the woods. Just park where it says kitchen dropoff

Submitted by tyler (not verified) on
hes right about parking, i know im a fisherman

Submitted by adam (not verified) on
I went with Kory and Tyler we just drove up the main road in the middle of the day.. you don't need to hike through the woods with night vision from the Target parking lot.. Just drive there. And we heard ghosts in the basement banging on lockers, and we found checks. lots of checks. and board games, and tyler cut his thumb open. fun stuff maaaaaaaaaaan. fun stuff. And I got to touch some booty

Submitted by Midnight (not verified) on
i have been there 4 times last summer awesome place inside, shame they flooded the basement where the morg was but the rest was all open and great exploring

Submitted by nonya (not verified) on
The inside is filled with mold and blank papers and the graffetti of young adults trashing the place.... I went 2 days ago. Its very easy to get inside the buildings.

Submitted by Travis (not verified) on
Ive been in there between 8 & 10 times. Walked thru the woods, the only things to worry about are the hourly circling around the propperty by two guards an if you somehow manage to get caught to run faster than a rubber bullet. Cause they will shoot at you, but it is really hard to get caught. Oh and I heard that the propperty is under new management and there remodeling the place. I have no clue what they are turning it into but I've always wanted to know why they closed it down it's last time and you the third floor look singed.

Submitted by Steve (not verified) on
I was just up there a few weeks ago two times. You can drive right up to the main building but both times there where at least a dozen cars and trucks there doing work on the building and people everywhere...

Submitted by MNick (not verified) on
Hi, I am going on a 2 week long trip all around Connecticut to visit abandoned and mysterious locations. I am doing this for research on historical events and locations. I will be taking photos along with other research devices. If anyone could help me obtain permission or point me in the right direction to this place I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you. You can contact me at m.nick1982@hotmail.com

Sorry. Wrongbuilding. Undercliff is still there, although it is State owned property with a resident state tropper on duty. Fines given by state police usually require a court appearance. I had a girl friend that worked there twenty + years ago. It was even creepy back then. But... the building I was referring to is an old mental hospital off of the Berlin tpke. in Newington, Ct. The Cedarcrest. If you want to see the ruins of half of a building, find the Cedar hill cemetary and go all the way to the back left corner (the place is huge and very historic). Climb the fence and walk the dirt road about a half mile. You'll come to a fence and the building is being slowly torn down. The guard doesn't really watch that end of the property. If you enter from the road enterance, she'll start walking up to your car and make you turn around asap. Although we didn't try talking to her about the property, a friendly approach might get you a littlt closer.We didn't try. We climbed the fence for the thrill seekers in us. Awesome property, though.

Submitted by lala (not verified) on
I would go in the buildings with a mask on because the buildings have asbestos in there. Great place to check out inside would be.... All of them :)

Submitted by Denise (not verified) on
Went there tonight, brought an EVP and ouija board got nothing but itchy eyes and dirty in the three hours we were there. Not really spooky but a cool old building.

Submitted by Pete (not verified) on
I went there one night back in college with a bunch of guys and girls driving up from New Haven. This was back in 1988 or 89. Obviously we were drinking and the place was pretty creeping looking on a late October night right before Halloween. It was totally abandoned and back then I don’t think anyone thought to guard the place. We were trying to scare ourselves and I do remember the empty halls and rooms with things like wheelchairs and medical looking equipment and scatter toys and stuff being pretty creepy. No ghosts or anything but creepy just the same.

Submitted by John (not verified) on
I was a resident (patient) at "Dartec House", a residential drug treatment facility on the Undercliff grounds in the early 1970's. Dartec was in a two-story wood-frame building on level field about halfway up the hill between the Chamberlain Highway entrance and the big sanatarium at the top of the hill. We were across the street from a two story brick building, which is still there. At that time an adolescent drug treatment (for maybe 20 residents) was housed in the brick building. A changing group of maybe 30 young adults (20 to 25 years old) lived at Dartec. It's gone now - I last went back in the late 1980's- just a flat lawn where the building was, where I spent fourteen months of my early 20's. The main thing I remember about the big hospital was a daily 'van run' which a resident and counselor would make each day, to pick up steam-table trays of food, from the hospital's main kitchen. (The lady who ran the kitchen was like the women who run high school cafeterias anywhere.) We brought these trays back to the adolescents' building where they, and we, ate in a small dining hall. Another time we went up the hill to see a play which I think a volunteer group put on for the patients. The mental patients seemed to get reasonably good care. By that era, mental patients were treated with meds, and at worst, were just spaced out. I'm sorry to tell you that there were no ghosts- not even the ghosts of our own pasts which brought us there. The drug program kept us very busy doing chores (one group even installed an above-ground swimming pool-also gone now). We had very little free time and at bedtime, were so tired we fell asleep fast - if there were odd noises or strange visions, I slept through them. I try periodically to find out what happened to the people that shared that experience with me. A lot of them died too young - if not in their twenties, in their forties or fifties. What the counselors told us was true - though it didn't feel always feel like it, we were fighting for our lives.

Submitted by Peter (not verified) on
Hello John, I was a patient at ADRU from March 1973-March 1974. I was on that pool project also. it would be great if we could make contact.

Submitted by Gerry (not verified) on
I was an occupational therapy aide at Undercliff l960-l962. It was a beautiful building with lots of light and open wards. There was an atmosphere of "community" among the patients and staff. Dedicated professionals treated patients with psychotherapy, psychotropic drugs, and I heard insulin therapy was used but there was no electroshock therapy used to my knowledge. The goal was always that the patient re-enter society. While the residents of Undercliff suffered mental illnesses, it was not an Insane Asylum. The prewar nurses' residence where I lived was creepiest place in the hospital complex.

Submitted by Joyce Kudla Dufresne (not verified) on
I remember Undercliff very well! My grandmother worked there in the late 50s until it was shut down. She was a psyiciatric nurse and worked in the hospital in the ADL room.(activity of daily living) She was my father's mother and she lived there on the grounds in the large building to the right of the hospital building. It was called the nurses home. My father would bring me and my sisters there quit often to visit and to spend weekends. The nurses home was large and had plenty of rooms empty so we would each have our own room to sleep in. Downstairs was the huge kitchen and a large playroom with a piano in there which my grandmother would often play. She would make us some awesome breakfast down there in that huge kitchen. I can still remember the names of the people who worked there. The cook, the telephone operator, some of the nurses and even the groundskeeper! I have many many fond and happy memories of being there. The ADL room was a large opn room with lots of sunlight coming. There were two roads to get to the top of Ubdercliff. As you drive in, off of Chaimberlin Highway you would take your very first right and that would lead you right to the nurses home where, like I said, nurses would live on the grounds. If you took the the road to the left of that right, it would take you right to the hospital. Both roads met each other so no matter which road you would take it would lead you to either place. I have so many memories, good memories of Undercliff and my grandmother. I could go on forever but I will conclude here. I just want to say that at one time, Undercliff was a beautiful place with beautiful grounds. Even the buildings down the hill were my grandmother also worked, were very well taken care of. My grandmother and Ubdercliff will always be a special part of my life! UNDERCLIFF

Submitted by Evan (not verified) on
Just wanted to mention a couple of things from this. First off, I have worked at Undercliff, though not in the old hospital. I worked for the Department of Developmental Services, which uses the facilities at the bottom of the hill, close to the entrance to the grounds. I also, living in the town just south of Meriden, have heard all of the stories and have ventured up to the hospital with a few friends, though I did not dare get out of the car. It was night time, and I am almost as afraid of the facility as I am afraid of the dark. It should also be noted that I was brought there against my will, as I was sitting in the back seat of my friend's car, and he put the child locks on the back doors so I could not bolt the second I realized where we were going. Another thing that happened on the grounds, which this article forgot to mention, was an incident that happened back in the 1970's with the resident state trooper at the time. The resident state trooper drove up to a shed on the grounds, which I have also seen, and blew his brains out. If anyone was looking for the shed, it is somewhere off to the right of the main road. Basically, come onto the grounds via the main entrance and take the first right available to you and It is somewhere in that general vicinity, though I cannot pinpoint exactly where it is.

Submitted by Para..investigator (not verified) on
My fiance, his brother and i drove up their at night and we were approached by a friendly cop, and we honestly told him what we were doing their and he said just turn around you cannotbe here its dangerous and you dont want the others to see your vehicle,the other troopers arent as nice. We turned around went during the day time in a different occasion i thougt i seen something on one of the videos but we were so busy looking out for cops it was not possible to concentrate. I am willing to go to and get some kind of permission to enter the premisses as a i have a blank record meaning never ever arrested nor anything else so at the time we are working on this and if i do manage to enter with peace ima get the best out of it

Submitted by Marcel (not verified) on
Just a note Para...investigator. This building is owned by the state of CT and trust me when I say that you will NEVER get permission to get inside the building. About 6 months ago Jeff Belanger(senior writer of the travel channel show Ghost Adventures) and I met with the state reps for meridan trying to get the Ghost Adventures Crew permission to investigate the facility. They said absolutely under no circumstances will they allow anyone in the buildings. If you want to get in there it's gonna have to be illegally and I know for a fact that the state cops and local cops monitor this area every couple hours. Just be careful if you go!

As a Student in a local H.S. back in 74, we as in a Health Class went on a field trip to Visit Undercliff, I believe to explore Health Issues. To this day, I continue to wonder why a Mental Health facility would be a place for a field trip. I remember visiting a couple of areas, one being a day hall where all persons of residence hung out, along with a pool area. The persons didn't appear happy nor sad, just sollen. I became sick with fear and sadness and needed to leave the facility. I remember leaving the building and getting on the bus where I stayed until the trip ended and we left to go back to the school. Later, I learned I was a sensitive and felt all the feelings of either the persons residing there or the spirits around us.. I will never forget that visit nor had the desire to return. Now, that I'm older and wiser, I would love to go and investigate with a team to see what would turn up.

Submitted by Jason Pope (not verified) on
I worked there about a decade ago...and i can tell you that I and others saw shadow figures, heard things moving around...like furniture upstairs, when nothing was moved..I saw a young girl in the kitchen, which is located in the basement area...and heard a mans voice clearly tell me "NO!!" when i went to open a downstairs door to the courtyard...it is haunted. One staff quit after seeing "something" in the basement.

Submitted by Jason Pope (not verified) on
The old barn that burned down, right down the street, on the corner was haunted as well...

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
I went there today, although I didn't get out of the car. There were multiple "State Property No Trespassing" signs but no actual police on location patrolling the area. I was able to drive around the entire campus without a problem. Since buildings on the campus as in use there are state workers there but it didn't seem like they were about to call the police. I would love to go back and actually walk around, does anyone have any suggestions on where to park?

Submitted by Melissa (not verified) on
I would love to go as well Christine~

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
@Melissa have you been before? It looks like it wouldn't be difficult to get into my only concern was where to park. I'm open for suggestions!

Submitted by ryan (not verified) on
I went there today, jan 7th 2013. I've been there many times and not much has changed. I just wonder why the building is still there if its " not being used ". Why put huge barbed wire fences around certain buidlings and employ security to watch the property? Why not demolish the building????? Weird.

Submitted by chris (not verified) on
it's not really that weird. it takes MILLIONS of dollars to demolish one building like the ones at undercliff. the fences are to keep out trespassers- it's a HUGE liability if someone gets hurt.

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
@Ryan that's what I was thinking! What do they have to hide and what are they saving? Did you go inside?

Submitted by J. Pope (not verified) on
The fence was placed when the facility was used to house troubled teens in the late nineties. It surrounded the premises to prevent escape.

Submitted by Nick (not verified) on
I've been there about 5 times the past 3 years, the best place to park is at Target. One time when we went a door was wide open in the main building and we got a chance to really explore everything, it was petty awesome and freaky at the same time.

Submitted by Marcel (not verified) on
There is actually a better place to park that is much more discrete than Target. Target parking lot has camera's everywhere and you actually have to walk right up the road to the buildings. If you go to Hubbard Park and you park on the corner of Hubbard Park Drive and Reservoir Ave right under the highway. You walk up Reservoir Ave for a short distance and there is a path on the right (you can't miss it) that brings you through the woods and right to the back of the main building. Noone bothers your car at the park and you will NOT be seen getting to the main building. Let me know if anyone decides to go because I want to go to. And PLEASE don't post here when you are going because I know for a fact they monitor these sights to see when people are going. Email me if you want info or if you want to go. marcel.aube@aol.com

Submitted by Chrissy (not verified) on
Hello everyone, I'm fascinated by the stories of these old hospitals, and especially the stories of those who worked or resided there for a period of time. I notice that many of the commenters on this blog who have been able to infiltrate these buildings discover that there's a lot of "stuff" left behind, including wheelchairs, beds, toys, chairs--and medical records. It amazes me that, in this day and age of patient privacy protection laws, there seems to have been no effort by the state to remove those records. It also seems kinda sad to think of all the medical equipment (not outdated stuff, of course) left behind that could have been put to use in other facilities. Putting on my "taxpayer" hat, I'm also amazed that the state spends money to have police constantly patrolling these abandoned sites. I understand it's a safety/liability issue to keep trespassers out, but it seems it would be a lot cheaper to tear them down than to pay for YEARS of police patrols. And it would be kind of hard to sell a building filled with asbestos. Wouldn't it just be cheaper to tear them down. Anyway, keep up the good work, everyone - this is a great blog!

Submitted by Marcel (not verified) on
Got some great photos of Undercliff last weekend. Anyone want to see them feel free to email me at marcel.aube@aol.com and I will send you a link. It's an AMAZING place for sure. So much history. So much pain and suffering. The stories that these walls could tell!

Submitted by sarah (not verified) on
Hi, my husband And I HAVE BEEN HERE 4 times. On our last visit we did catch some audio. Im very interested in sharing our findings

Submitted by chris (not verified) on
has the whole place been demolished or are there still buildings that are abandoned on the property? just curious if it is still worth a visit or if it's all gone.

Submitted by James (not verified) on
I just wanted to let you guys know that A Group of People on facebook have launched a Undercliff Website, and are trying to have it contain a lot of info for everyone, here's the link: http://undercliff.weebly.com/ I just found this site yesterday