September 24, 2018 – Waterford, Connecticut
Address: Seaside State Park 36 Shore Road, Waterford, Connecticut
Seaside State Park is a 36-acre park overlooking Long Island Sound in Waterford, Connecticut. In 2014, Governor Dannel Malloy designated the property as a state park by way of Executive Order.
Back in the 1930’s, it was believed that sunshine along with the sea air and soothing waves of Long Island Sound could cure children with bone and glandular Tuberculosis.
The state decided to build the Seaside Sanatorium on Magonk Point in Waterford overlooking the Sound, and opened it during the summer of 1934.
The salt air and waves ended up not being a cure for the disease and the Sanatorium closed in 1958. It eventually reopened as the Seaside Regional Center for Mentally Retarded in 1961. The site was closed for good in 1996 and left abandoned. Vandals, squatters, Urban Explorers and the New England elements became its only tenants.
The abandoned hospital now sits in disrepair with plywood covering most of the broken windows and doors.
A copper weather vane of a large sailing ship tops a huge spire.
Famed architect Cass Gilbert was commissioned to design the buildings. Gilbert also designed the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C., the famed Woolworth Building in New York City and the landmark Union Station in New Haven.
The location of the center, the first of its kind in the nation, was chosen because of the fresh sea air and ample sunlight. At the time it was thought that fresh air and lots of sunshine could help cure tuberculosis.
The children, all 14 and under would spend their days outside sunning as part of their heliotropic treatment. By the end of the 1940’s, advancements in drug therapies were being made and the usefulness of sanatoriums declined.
The terraces facing the ocean, wrap around the main building, so the children could try to sun themselves to health.
In the 1970’s during its last period of operation as the “Seaside Regional Center for Mentally Retarded,” allegations of abuse surfaced. By the 1990’s the hospital became notorious for its high mortality rate. It closed for good in 1996.
Its buildings “comprise an exceptional collection of fully realized and generally well-preserved Tudor Revival-style institutional architecture,” which were designed by Cass Gilbert. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
As a state park, the grounds are open to the public, but the employee and hospital buildings are surrounded by a chain link fence.
Other structures located not far from the main buildings are not fenced off. However, they are in close proximity to neighboring residential homes.
There is an abundance of warning signs throughout the park. I have read that this place is heavily patrolled, but with the exception of a half dozen or so park goers, I didn’t encounter any security.
Since its closure, the property has had various owners, but very little has been done to the abandoned buildings.
Developers have been faced with legal battles and the sanatorium continues to remain abandoned on this attractive oceanfront parcel
The historical aspect of this place makes it worth a visit. Take a walk along this scenic stretch of Connecticut coastline and admire the architecture from afar. The interior of the buildings are off limits.
After its tumultuous demise, Seaside has once again returned to the tranquil place it started out to be. Now get out and explore!