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.

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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 Marcel (not verified) on
marcel.aube@aol.com

Submitted by Aly (not verified) on
I will be there tomorrow around noon with my pup if any of you want to meet up. Ill show you how I get in.

Submitted by Marcel (not verified) on
Let me know how you make out Aly. Unfortunately I couldn't make it today at noon but I would love to know the updated condition of the place and if you are still able to get in and where to get in. Thank you. maubejr@aol.com

Submitted by Marcel (not verified) on
ok.....I put the wrong email address Aly. it's marcel.aube@aol.com

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
@Aly I'd love to hear about how it went! I hope to make a trip up there again soon. If you can, can you shoot me an email with any details? Thanks so much! It's christine.leo@purchase.edu

Submitted by Jess Morgan (not verified) on
I just happened across this site today. I was in Seaside for a year in 1955-1956 I believe. I was diagnosed with TB and both my brother and I were sent there. I remember long rows of beds on either side of a room. We girls were separated from the boys. I don't recall ever being able to spend time with my brother. I was 3 or 4 at the time and he was even younger so that gives you an idea of the mores of the day. Anybody else there then? Would love to share any memories. Jessie

Submitted by Lex (not verified) on
I'm hoping to go with a friend and her mother tomorrow to explore and take some pictures. I hope we can. Any info?

Submitted by Christine (not verified) on
@lex what kind of info would you like?

Submitted by Urbex (not verified) on
Just went a couple weeks ago. Didn't get inside but I wasn't really trying. All the doors were pad locked or chained or both but i did see some ways in I just didn't attempt them. I do plan on going back with the intent of getting in. I got some amazing shots and I loved being there. @lex try allhthe doors if you're looking to get in. Even if there chained or have a lock, you just never know. Also be cautious, these buildings are old and can be dangerous. People tend to walk they're dogs around there so don't be surprised to see anyone. Don't try prying boards or breaking anything because you're in close proximity to Number of homes and someone will definitely hear something and most likely wont hesitate to call. While there I didn't see a cop or any type of security but that doesn't mean they don't come by. There are signs that say state property no trespassing, but like I said people do walk around, mostly with dogs, and its tolerated. Just don't get caught doing anything illegal and please don't be a person who vandalizes or ruins things for people like us who like to enjoy the history and architecture for what it is. Good luck.

Submitted by Urbex (not verified) on
If you have any questions just let me know and I'll answer the best I can, and sorry for the typos in the last comment.

Submitted by Urbex (not verified) on
One more thing.. @jess Morgan, I would love to hear some stories or memories if you wouldn't mind.

Submitted by Jess Morgan (not verified) on
Nancy Morgan. Could you get ahold of me? We have more in common than our stays at Seaside. I can be reached at jm2@frontier.net Thanks Jessie

Submitted by Marcel (not verified) on
I spent the morning at this beautiful hospital today. It was a BEAUTIFUL sunny day and I took a ton of pictures. I had no problem getting in the main building. Everything is sealed off at the first floor level. If you want any more info or want to see my pics feel free to email me and I would be more than happy to share! marcel.aube@aol.com

Submitted by Lex (not verified) on
We managed to go today! It was so easy getting in. I got some amazing pictures as well. If anyone wants to see pictures or wants to know how to get in, email me at fruedman_lexi@yahoo.com

Submitted by Nancy Morgan (not verified) on
This blog helped to connect me with another person who spent a year at Seaside for TB in the 1950's! I was there from 1956-57...I was 12 years old. She was there maybe a year before I was. And her last name is the same as mine! We can share some memories of when it was a vital place where kids got better from TB.

Submitted by Urbex (not verified) on
@lex I tried to email you but it wouldn't let me and it kept saying it wasn't a valid email address. I'd love to know how you got in and see some of your pictures! @nancy and Jess Morgan congrats!

Submitted by Jess Morgan (not verified) on
Urbex, what is your e-mail address? Mine is above. Can share a story or two.

Submitted by Lex (not verified) on
@urbex oops! I typed it wrong. It's friedman_lexi@yahoo.com , email me!

Submitted by Melissa (not verified) on
I literally go there all the time. Since I live down the street from it. I know that building like the back of my hand. Usually, We go on expiditions. So if people wanna go. Let me know~

Submitted by Alison (not verified) on
Melissa- pick me!

Submitted by Jess Morgan (not verified) on
Urbex. I forgot to get back to you about stories. I can remember being told not to suck my thumbs. I was 3-4 years old and there was little for me to do. They put tabasco sauce on my thumbs so I wouldn't do it again. I remember being strapped to my bed but don't recall what that was for. Perhaps not to suck my thumbs. I was not allowed to visit with my brother who was younger and also there. This was in 1954-1955 so things were pretty old-fashioned!

Submitted by Melissa (not verified) on
Alison. Email me @KiiyukoEmo@gmail.com so we could sort something out. (:

Also, I have a blog. So if anyone else wants to come on a trip. Comment on something and let me know.

Submitted by Melissa (not verified) on
I recently made a Blog just for Seaside visits. So ignore that top link. Use this one and comment, vote, all the jazz. It'll be a lot easier to contact me this way. http://seasidesanatorium.blogspot.com/

Submitted by Alicia (not verified) on
Melissa I would love to do a trip let me know

Submitted by Melissa (not verified) on
Alicia Shoot me a text. We go almost every weekend. 8607018032

Submitted by Aly (not verified) on
just so you all know, theres a resident state trooper that lives across the street from the parking lot. don't be stupid and destructive!!

Submitted by Lex (not verified) on
If you go through the back closest to the beach, and go up the stairs on the left, you just need to get over the fence and the door is open. Just be careful because it's very decayed inside. By the way, there should be a chair on the other side of the fence to help you get over safely.

Thank You Jess Morgan, for sending me an email. I truly appreciate hearing from you. I was born in January 1949, (now age 64) also young when I was admitted to the hospital. My bed was in a ward with other girls. The older girls were kept separate from us. Well, hopefully we have to go thru being in a hospital like that again. Take Care, and please keep in touch when you can. Hester

When I was a young girl I became very ill at home which was Stamford, CT. This was around 1953 or so. Because my illness was contagious and the hospitals in my hometown were unable to care for me, I was sent to Seaside Sanatorium. I spent several years at the Sanatorim, and was curied of my illness. The photos in this article are exactly as I remember the facility. I did not have a pleasant time there as there were many tests done, over and over and over to help define the right medications to give me. I would love to chat with anyone who cam recall having been treated here.

Submitted by Ciara (not verified) on
Hello, I am a student at Gateway Community College in West Haven, CT. For my English class, we are assigned to do a research paper on an interesting place and I have chosen Seaside Sanatorium. I am looking for old patients or workers from Seaside when it was still open. Even local residents who have an opinion on the sanatorium either from before or after it was shut down. I would greatly appreciate it if you guys could help me out. I have to conduct interviews and observations by this coming Tuesday (March 12). I'm planning on either setting up phone interviews or possibly interviews through e-mail or instant messaging. Your help will be greatly appreciated. -Ciara Young

Submitted by Ciara (not verified) on
And my email is ciarayoungwh@gmail.com. Sorry, I forgot to add it.

During my stay at Seaside the building inside was well taken care of, I can remember the janitors washing and waxing the floors. The outside of the building, from what I recall, the grass was always cut, and you could see the workers working. I was not allowed outside. The food was terrible, at times we had to eat sardines with the fish heads on. We were not allowed to leave the cafeteria unless our plates were clean. I left Seaside in 1957. Again, I would love to chat with anyone who recalls the place. I don't have a blog, so please use my email address. Thanks..

Submitted by Jess Morgan (not verified) on
Hey Hester You may e-mail me directly as I was there in 1954. jm2@frontier.net

Submitted by Ciara Young (not verified) on
Thanks. I saw that you had posted your e-mail, Jess but I didn't want to just send you an e-mail without the go ahead. And Hester, I'm definitely interested in interviewing you. The only thing is I do not have your e-mail address. I posted mine above if you want to just e-mail me or post it on here. You guys are awesome for helping me out

Ciara, I would love to hear from you with questions. Feel free to contact me when you can.

Submitted by Phillip (not verified) on
So doe anyone know the most current way to get in without being destructive? Would greatly appreciate it because my friends and i are looking to explore it next weekend :)

Submitted by Jess Morgan (not verified) on
Oops. jm2@frontier.net. Now you can contact me Ciara!

I wish I could help you Phillip. But, unfortunately I cannot. Please do me a favor if you can, please try to take pictures of the front entrance, not inside of course, but rather outside. It is so terribly sad to see the place go down hill. The lawns were lush and green, very well kept. The brick was beautifully bright red. Good luch when you go, please let me know how things turn out. Becareful though...

Submitted by Ciara Young (not verified) on
Hester Green and Jess Morgan, Either of you would be great candidates for my English project. If you wouldn't mind me e-mailing you and asking you some questions about your stay at Seaside it would be wonderful.

Submitted by Jess Morgan (not verified) on
That's fine Ciara

Submitted by Jess Morgan (not verified) on
Hi Hester What year (s) were you there? Can you picture the 2 long lines of beds as I can? What is your best/worst memory? Any interest in seeing the place before they destroy it? Best, Jessie

Submitted by Whitney (not verified) on
Phillip, I'm pretty sure that my group of friends will be going this Friday or Saturday if you're interested in joining the groups together.

Submitted by Jess Morgan (not verified) on
Hester I too was there, as you can see if you scroll up. I was there from 54 to 55 with my brother and I remember getting shots, learning how to tie my shoes in bed, rows of beds with other girls, walks on the beach with my grandmother, tabasco sauce on my thumbs because I sucked them, being restrained in a bed, and the ocean. I was born in 1951 so so I was pretty young!

Submitted by Nancy Morgan (not verified) on
Ciara, I emailed you quite a long narrative for your English project. Did you get it?

Submitted by Nancy Morgan (not verified) on
I was at Seaside as a 12-year-old girl in 1956-1957. I was not confined to my bed, but do remember twice weekly shots and vile tasting meds and gastric juice tests. I was there 11 months and was cured of TB of the lung. I came from a family that had a long history of lung TB, four of the six kids had it. I was the last to be hospitalized. It really was a beautiful facility!

Hi Everyone, So, of all the folks who have left comments on this website how many of you were actually treated at Seaside as a kid growing up? Can I have a total number count here. I'de appreciate it. I was at Seaside from at least 1953 to 1956 or 1957. I had TB and Spinal Menigitis. I was not permitted to leave my bed, and was in confinement most of the time. So, I don't recall playing with other kids or socializing with other kids. The doctors were too busy pricking me with needles, taking blood samples, spinal taps, and gastric juice testing. Of course as I began to get better the tests were weened. I'de love to have a list of those of you who were patients.

Submitted by Anne (not verified) on
Hi everyone :-) here is an update on the famous seaside. As most ppl are unaware even tho James ( former security) is no longer patrolling the grounds,they are still being patrolled by police and the neighbors .. most of the entrances are boarded up and the lower openings have appliances wedged into them. If you are looking for paranormal experiences you don't have to go into the bldgs. I walk the grounds every weekend with a camera, K2 meter, and a digital voice recorder. I have a few pics with apparitions . A lot of EVP's and a lot of K2 hits when asking questions. Feelings of something rushing up to you is another feeling I get. At the play ground at the main bldg I've captured a little girls voice at the slide which still stands today. When your standing in front of the main bldg next to the water fountain which is now destroyed, if you look up to the second set of 5 windows I've captured a photo of a man sitting in a wheelchair looking out the window. Along with many EVP's and a lot of unexplained noises. When u first come onto the property pass the gate you'll come to another main bldg next to the basketball court. At this bldg before it was closed up with ply woods I captured a photo of a mist forming in between the two doors. When taking photos I take shots back to back so there's no questions as to what I've taken pics of. At the back of this bldg next to the fire escape there's a doorway. I took a bunch of photos of the room only to realize I caught of photo of a black apparition of a man, who feels like and evil presents.when standing there taking photos you get the sense of pressure on ur chest. During this time I had the voice recorder and captured an evp saying get the fuck out.. So theses are some of the experiences I've had being at seaside just on the grounds.

Hi everyone, I must apologize, my computer has been down about a week or so, and have not been able to catch up with your news. Someone called me a week or two ago, it might have been longer than that, they spoke so fast I could hardly understand them, I thought they were trying to sell me something, so we hung up quickly. I wear two hearing aids, and inspite of modern science I still have trouble hearing, so if anyone from DAMNED in CT., calls me please identify yourself so we can have a conversation. I'de love to chat sometime. I would still love to see the Hospital and its grounds. I remember when I was paralyzed and laying in my bed I could see the whales spouting water. IT was a peaceful sight.

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