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.

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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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Comments

Submitted by Urbex (not verified) on
I've heard this is a really difficult place toget into. Help?

Submitted by Marcel (not verified) on
It's monitored pretty regularly Urbex but it's doable. Let me know if you are interested in going because I am gonna go back. I've found the best place to park and the best way in. marcel.aube@aol.com

Submitted by R (not verified) on
@Chrissy I think part of the reason for the police patrols are that some of the buildings around the main one are still being used. I think it would be unnerving for staff and patients to constantly hear breakins and parties right in their backyard, or even have someone accidentally break into their occupied building. Plus you've got to remember crackheads like to break into abandoned buildings to steal the copper. It's in Meriden, which has SOME crime but it's not like hartford, new haven, etc where the cops are always busy with things to actually do other than harass teens, young adults, and write traffic tickets. It's not like the town hired x number of officers to sit at Undercliff, they allocated officers that would have jobs patrolling anyways. I'd rather have them sitting at Undercliff than out trying to bust my balls over tinted windows or sending kids to jail for petty drug and vandalism crimes and turning delinquents into hardened criminals. But, if it bothers you that much (and as a fellow taxpayer it bothers me, too - but tickets and harassment bother me more) write to the Governor. But I think it was a Meriden town/Police Dept decision to keep it patrolled and not actually a state decision. Then again, there's the old Meriden hospital that's not patrolled or guarded at all (except by the occasional sleeping bum) that you can park right next to and check out, so who knows. Really, if the State was smart/efficient/etc they'd take a hint at all the interest in it, clean the building itself up a little just to make it safe, and open it up as a museum.

Submitted by Austin (not verified) on
I went about 5 years ago with some friends. We couldn't get in at the time- everything that had been an opening appeared to have been boarded up very recently. No weak spots at the time at all really! We did a pretty lengthy explore of the back and one side of the building and could see some things inside. It was even just neat bumming around on the outside. Either way, super easy access for those who want it, at least some years back, was to go to the Target parking lot and go up over the ridge. Undercliff is on the other side, so you just have to do a little hiking to get there. You come out on the back / side of the building and avoid pretty much all the crap you'd face going down the main road.

Submitted by NaNcy KnOll (not verified) on
I'm totally in if someone manages to ever put together a group to head in. This place is about 10 min from me, and I have driven through. Also watched the video's on youtube of the kids that managed their way in, lol.

Submitted by MerJer (not verified) on
Stay clear of this area. I can go on and on about what's going on with these buildings and the state workers but I won't waist our time. Most of the property is still being used, the guards are there because the state doesn't want any one getting hurt or any shit heads breaking windows and starting fires that can disrupt the active office space. The place is a waist of time and you can find much better sites through out the state. Again... it's not worth the court date.

Submitted by Trisha (not verified) on
I just recently went to Undercliff about two days ago in fact and it's pretty much boarded up, we had to climb walls and through a window on to a radiator to get in. It isn't the first time i have been inside and it defiantly gives off the creepy vibe, but I agree the coolest part is the theater room. There was also alot of cars parked up there when i went up but it was people working in the building next door. We took the hike up there through the woods. It's worth it to an extent, it's slowly getting more and more dilapidated but thats expected from a building that is just sitting there abandoned.

Submitted by Sarah (not verified) on
Trisha, do you remember where you entered from?

Submitted by Sarah (not verified) on
Went up here last week with a couple friends. We got caught & the only reason we didn't get a ticket is because I told the officer that my mom is a retired state lieutenant. Creepy place but be careful, the state police headquarters is literally right up the street. If you do try to get in, walk up in the dark with no flashlights. You have less of a chance getting caught. Also, don't carry knives, crowbars, bats, or anything used for breaking in. They can charge you for vandelism

Submitted by Sarah (not verified) on
Also, be careful because the basement is flooded. Even though the hurricane knocked out the security system & most of the power, there can still be live wires under the water. Don't take the risk

Just for the record.....Undercliff does not have power to the building. Also, The basement being flooded is a huge mystery to me because they are the ones that flooded it on purpose. I wonder what is down there that they don't want us to see? Anyway, I would recommend going the back route like I posted earlier. You will NEVER get caught going in that way!

Submitted by Sarah (not verified) on
Apparently there is a morgue and crematorium down there. Not sure though. We used the back route, but still got caught trying to enter by a state officer patrolling the area.

Submitted by Sarah (not verified) on
Walk across the street and up the hill from 7/11. Through the woods & under a hole in the fence makes it borderline impossible to get caught. Unless the police happen to be patrolling that night

Submitted by melissa (not verified) on
so we should plan a field trip!

Submitted by Sarah (not verified) on
Does anyone know of any easy way to get in? Any open windows/doors? Trying to plan for my next visit

Submitted by Tyler (not verified) on
I have personally been here a few times with other friends. There is a secret way to get in on the second floor but i shouldnt get too much into detail. BUT it has a mold problem in the building... i had to wear a cloth over my mouth because i couldnt stand the smell. If you are going to visit this place, its on you if you get arrested and fined. Stay safe and be smart on what you do. Although its off limits, its an awsome place to visit. The lower you go in the building, the more scary.! Go at night if your not scared. :D

Submitted by Bill Z (not verified) on
I worked at the hospital as a sub electrical contractor several years ago, and I spend several weeks in a few of the buildings on this site, sometime alone, and yes, I have heard, and see things that make you think twice about! I don't have to many rears in life, but on this job, I walk around wiht one big heavy ss pipe!

Submitted by Trisha (not verified) on
Yes Sarah, I entered through the second floor window by climbing up a wall over some old cellar doors.

Submitted by Sarah (not verified) on
Thanks for all the information @Mik !

Submitted by Mik (not verified) on
@Sarah March 18th, 2013 9:54 am "Apparently there is a morgue and crematorium down there. Not sure though." [*] There is no crematorium. The body bags were picked up from the morgue, by funeral homes, using ordinary station wagons, at around one in the morning. If I remember correctly there were 16 (4x4) cold storage units in one wall and an autopsy table in the center of the room with a sink on one wall. A double-door opened directly to the back court opposite to the theatre's wall. [*] The kitchen receiving door was a little way to the left (exiting) the morgue room. Although there is no direct connecting door to the kitchen this proximity has had some people believing that the morgue was a 'refrigerator' room for the kitchen. Imagine though, eight foot deep two foot wide metal sliding drawers storing 'food'? [*] The food was sent from the basement kitchen via dumb waiter up to the dining room, which was sort of a penthouse at the top of the building. [*] The building was up for sale to a Hospital group but the sale died when the cost of retrofitting a sprinkler system was determined to be prohibitive. This also the reason the property was taken out of service. A similar fate killed the Meriden Hospital on Cook Street. [*] The facilities theatre was fitted with a professional fireproof projection room as well as a standard stage, which was in use by a local theatre group until required repairs exceeded available funds. [*] The roofs of the wards were open for use as observation/sun decks to the Tubercular patients. They were locked when the mental patients were moved in. [*] The sub-basement (now flooded?) contained two large oil boilers for heating and an emergency power generator and the buildings main power panel. "Sorry, nothing else to see here, folks." [*] The small shed (were the cop offed) was the Pump House for the complexes water supply. It pumped the water up to the Water Tower behind the Main building. Without which there is no water pressure on the hill. The fire department had to be notified whenever the power went out so they could bring the Engine companies should there be a fire. [*] The concern (fences) was not to keep patients in, but to keep visitors (and contraband)out. The patients were all considered non-violent. Some were self-committed. Patients who were acting up were tied to his/her bed and left in the hall way. Later when the children were there a 'quiet room' was established. It was over the 'out-patients entry'. That's what I can remember at the moment from when I was a Night-Watchman there in the 70s.

Submitted by Vincent (not verified) on
I live a mile from Target, I can see it from my house as I live on a mountain pretty much, someone else agree that the entire town of meriden seems haunted, I no that's crazy to say but all kinds of creepy cemetarys, Undercliffe, the hospital on cook ave, also said to be a corner of a train tracks where multiple people have commited suicide, we need to get Ghost adventures here!

Submitted by Vincent (not verified) on
I live a mile from Target, I can see it from my house as I live on a mountain pretty much, someone else agree that the entire town of meriden seems haunted, I no that's crazy to say but all kinds of creepy cemetarys, Undercliffe, the hospital on cook ave, also said to be a corner of a train tracks where multiple people have commited suicide, we need to get Ghost adventures here!

Submitted by Ian (not verified) on
@R the main building is in no condition to be renovated and reused be cause of the. Damage inside and the basement is flooded with water

Submitted by dazzlepops (not verified) on
I would love 2 visit an old asylum but I live in England and we don't have any that have not been renovated but at least I can watch on the internet but its not the same

Submitted by Natasha (not verified) on
We are heading there this weekend if anyone is around and would like to join us. we will be checking out a few sites for UE if anyone is interested email sabc978@gmail.com

Submitted by Bryce (not verified) on
@R - Are you referring to the hospital on Cook Ave.? I took a look around that place last winter and it looked like all i'd need to get inside is a 12m wrench. anyone been in there??

Submitted by TR (not verified) on
Anyone been recently... It looks really cool. I have been to the insane asylum buildings on uconn's property in storrs. Those were really awsome to see. they have at least 7 buildings over there. I would like to go up for a night I've been facinated by these old abandonded hospitals seeing as I have worked maintenance at alot of now existing ones. A maintnenace guy is who you want to hear from they could tell you everything about a building.

Submitted by Corrine (not verified) on
I went out there Tuesday nite with a few people and we went through it top to bottom!!! It was creepy at times but I didnt hear feel or see anything that was out of the ordinary!!! But some of the other people swore just the opposite happened on there watch!! So I don't know what's going on up there but it was a once in a lifetime adventure for me and my friends!!!

Submitted by JR (not verified) on
Just drove up there with three friends last night... Although we Saw a few parked cars, there were no police on site and it was not likely that we would be caught.. We drove on the main road so that te main building was on our right.. None of us did any research, so we didnt know the lay of the land.. We got skeeved out because we thought we were approaching a dead end with just the pitch black woods on our left and the building on our right, when in reality, the road loops around the entire building. We turned around and got out of there quickly because we were being pussies.. Honestly though, the whole place just gives off an eerie vibe and we (the driver and i) weren't in any mood to get out of the car..

Submitted by Nick DeLeonardo (not verified) on
Me and my friends went here a few nights ago. it was honestly the creepiest thing ive ever experienced. we made our way throught the woods up to the Sanatorium. once we got there, we went right to the back to get up to the small roof and make our way in. me and two off my friends got up to the roof and found a window we could get into. me and my friend went up the ladder and peeked in to find an hallway, which upon putting our heads in, reeked of cancer. there were obsbetos signs posted so we decided not to go in. it was downpuroring the night we went. although we didnt go inside, we all agree we heard screaming and laughing coming form inside the building and even saw figures in the windows. my friends decided to take some souviners home. one frined took the "north" and "east" signs that were hanging above the door. he says everytime he walks by them, he gets a painfull chill. this place is extremely creepy, but make for a good adventure. my friends and i will be returning to check out the inside soon. my advice to anyone who goes up there: 1: go in a large group. we had 9-11 kids with us. 2: dont go unarmed. there are homeless people in the sanatorium. 3:BRING FLASHLIGHTS. the inside is very dark. 4:bring a facemask. the last thing you want is to get cancer. 5:be smart. dont fool around or play stupid tricks on your friends. the place is sketchy enough.

Submitted by al (not verified) on
you've got to be kidding me right? are you seriously telling people to not only go with a huge group of people (very stupid) but to go ARMED?! you realize that if you get caught with a crow bar, knife, wrench, etc, that is a a completely separate offense from just trespassing, right? 1-there are no homeless people in there, 2- you're not going to get cancer from being exposed to asbestos (not obsbetos) one time. jesus christ.

Submitted by DC (not verified) on
Alright, just driving up this road gives you the creeps. It is located in a very remote location, seriously below a cliff. It provides a perfect little storm of fear and loathing. As I drove past my first time around, I noticed how there is a bunch of old childrens stuff left by the end of the road in a hopes to somehow rid the location of its strange past, but again another eerie feeling. They guy who posted above me as well is right though, this place is eerie, and I don't suggest going without ventilated masks. This place is lead painted, asbestos ridden, and definitely on it's last leg. The state had been discussing revamping and updating many of these older places - with economic hopes, however it has become a huge nuisance for local police and even some state police. From time to time though you will find surveyors and contractors scoping out the land. The biggest issue though is the location is a low-lying land, so moisture and weather conditions tend to have a big impact on the structural integrity of the buildings. I wish someone would revive this land, and I suggest that you beware when entering the premises, it is definitely watched, because the last thing anyone wants is a lawsuit. If you do BY CHANCE get onto the property, I'd definitely suggest you make it quick. That place is not healthy by any stretch, its not safe (location wise and area wise) there are a lot of homeless and dwellers who roam the area. A few months back I went with a few contractors, as a part of private investment venture, and we spotted out the land, from above and around, then once getting permission entered certain locations on the campus. Seriously, there are metal and scraps which are jagged and dangerous all over. Walls and ceilings look like they are close to caving in. At the time they had like 20 ft fences surrounding certain parts. I was intriguied to be seeing the site considering though. I hope in time the state and town can find some beneficial use to it, for now it's such a waste though

Submitted by julia (not verified) on
My name is julia and I watch a lot ghost adventuers..I m so into things like this..it very interesting and im curious..I wish they would open the grounds and the property for the public..it would be amasing... me as a person I have this gift that I sometimes see spirits in my house and imnot scard..but I would love to go.

Submitted by Meriden Resident (not verified) on
I used to live about 2 min away from this site. I have been there 30 or 40 times because the place was legendary for being haunted. There was a very old house / treatment facility there that local satanic cults would visit and perform rituals at. Eventually... an individual I knew personally, burned the building down because he thought it would be fun. There are still many buildings up there and this place is not abandoned. There are cars up there all the time and what strikes me as odd is there is a door that leads in to a concrete structure which seems to burrow in to the cliff side. I have always wondered if there was some sort of underground facility there. You can take note of a serious array of antenna there if you venture up to castle Craig and focus the spyglasses they have on that area. I think there is more to that site than people realize.

Submitted by Nick DeLeonardo (not verified) on
Hey guys me again. So me and my friends went to check this place out again like I said we would. We got inside and let me tell you. Creepy shit happened. Once we got in, we made our way to try and find the theater in the asylum but ended up in a room that was used to watch patients. We sat down and listened and started hearing noises. Doors closing, footsteps etc. it was honestly the creepiest and most exciting thing ever. Like I said, if you go WEAR FACEMASKS!! Smells like cancer in there. Found a book on the rules and guidelines of electroshock therapy. Pretty creepy stuff

Submitted by Nick DeLeonardo (not verified) on
so i finally figured out what this building might be useed for. Me and my friends found a simunition bullet, like the ones the state police would use. it makes sense now as everything is destryoed in the building. plus i honestly think that when me and my friends went two nights ago, the noises we heard were most likely the state police trying to scare us and teach us a lesson, rather than arresting us. it makes sense becasue cops have been know to hide in the woods around the building to scope people out. they probably followed us in becasue we heard something moving through the woods. the pace is definitly still creepy and im not even sure if the cops do scare people, but it makesa lot of sense now that i think about it.

Submitted by Curious (not verified) on
Im a photographer & REALLY want to do a quick shoot here! Anyone know if there is a way to get permission? I REALLLLLLY want to get in there with a cpl of my models!

Submitted by Nick DeLeonardo (not verified) on
@Curious theres no way to get permission to get in there. the Department of Developmental Services ownes the property and they say its not safe to go in due to the osbestos and just how rundown the place is. honestly just sneak up there sometime during the day and youll be fine. the worst they can do is ticket you. but ive been there 3 times. youll be fine

Submitted by Marisol (not verified) on
So I have read/skimmed through a good portion of these comments but haven't seen anyone say they have been caught trespassing on this property... I'm looking into possible fines or "trouble" that may come our way if my paranormal group enters and just so happens to get caught. I found on the ct.gov possible fines but what kind of trespassing would this qualify as?

Submitted by Nick D (not verified) on
does anyone know how to get to the theater or where its located in the building?? ive been there twice but couldnt seem to find it

To Marcel, I could not find the path that u said was on resevoir rd and led up to undercliff. Was it on the opposite side of the actual resevoir, near the filteration unit ? I really want to check it out with out going to Target or undercliff rd. Thanx...........

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on
That is such a stupid and dangerous choice to go into a rat infested, asbestos condemned facility. You can get seriously hurt and asbestos can do serious damage to your health A ceiling can fall down on you and often times, drug addicts hang out in those places. The state doesn't want to held liable, that's why there's no trespassing. I use to live in CT and had plenty of places like that such as Long Lane, Fairfield Hills, Elmcrest,Curtis Home for children High Meadows and Undercliff all shut down due to budget and CT doesn't have the money to bulldoze them so they just sit their rotting away. It's what makes CT what it is....spooky and mysterious

Submitted by Taylor (not verified) on
Sad to say but they are starting to tear these bldgs down this month.

Submitted by Nick D (not verified) on
Taylor, where did you hear that they are tearing the building down?

Are they really going to tear down the buildings @ Undercliff ?

Submitted by Amanda (not verified) on
Just took a hike and they have started tearing down one of the main buildings. Such a shame.

Sorry to disappoint all of you adventurers' but all of Undercliffs buildings are under construction. I took a ride there today & there is all kind of equipment & red tape around the different bldgs. Maybe something good will come out of it...........Has anybody been to the meriden hospital on Cook Ave?

Submitted by Worker (not verified) on
I am working in the building now an i would be lying if i said that i did not hear or see anything but i guess it all in my head not sure really because i don't believe in ghost an it a old building so it going to make noise an you can tell that kids play in there at night not sure if it kids of flesh an bones or just kids that never left either way it pretty COOL scary but COOL i would never go there at night even if you paid me LOL

Submitted by Worker (not verified) on
I forgot one thing THEY WILL ARREST ON SITE DONT NOT GO THERE I REPEAT DONT GO THERE

Submitted by derpston jigglekeys (not verified) on
I went there about a month ago, there's people working but we slipped through unnoticed. We walked, if you drive it's obvious and people might notify the police. All the rooms are cleared out and best part of the building has been demolished, you can't even drive around it. It's still a cool empty building but not really worth the trouble. There's just random "420 blaze it" style graffiti on the some of the walls and some documents. Watch out for asbestos, it's a very old building.

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