Undercliff Sanatorium, Meriden
The Damned Story: What is it with the state of Connecticut and creepy old mental hospitals? At the base of South Mountain, near Hubbard Park in Meriden sits the abandoned Undercliff Sanatorium, a former state health facility that was closed decades ago but that some claim is 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 are still dark stories attached to the property, including tales of abuse and horror, although no actual evidence of any such activity has 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 have died on the property.
Consequently, there have been numerous reports of hauntings here. Some allege to have heard the voices of children, both laughing and crying, while others have claimed to have seen the shadows and spirit of children in the windows of the now-empty buildings. Those who have ventured inside the buildings have supposedly heard the footsteps of patients running from orderlies as well as the screams of the mentally ill undergoing treatment.
A few purported sightings involve the ghost of one patient who was supposedly attacked and murdered by fellow residents (again, unsubstantiated); the story goes that you can see the phantom of the lost soul wandering the grounds at night. EVPs and other otherworldly manifestations have also been reported to have been captured by those investigating the facility.
As it is state property, it is off limits to the general public, although that doesn’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 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 is that it’s 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’s been 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?
Our Damned Experience: We have never been to Undercliff, and unless we get some sort of immunity or the state opens the grounds to visitors, we’re not going any time soon.
If You Go: You can’t.
Undercliff Sanatorium is located on Undercliff Road in Meriden. Again, like many abandoned former state facilities, it is closed to the public. No trespassing signs are posted all over the property, tall fences surround many of the buildings and the grounds are patrolled by security and police regularly. Those caught trespassing will be arrested and fined.