Urban Exploring: Seaside Regional Center

Seaside Sanitarium

One of the larger building where the nurses stayed. Also offices were on the main floor. Loving those windows.

Connecticut is full of amazing history. Being in one of the thirteen original colonies, we’re lucky enough to have spectacular old buildings and architecture that tells some really interesting stories.  Another thing that we have plenty of is spooky abandoned hospitals.

Yeah.  We have a LOT of those. And many of them at one point were mainly used as mental institutions.

From the famously haunted and now burned down Connecticut Valley Hospital to the Ghost Hunter’s favorite Norwich State Hospital, Connecticut has plenty of places left abandoned.

During the 1950s, the patient populations were higher and many hospitals expanded to include new medical research facilities, pathology departments, and large residence buildings. The opening of these buildings meant the closing of the older structures, which were used for storage or just left to rot. By the early 1970s, the addition of the new structures and the effect of decreasing patient population that was occurring all over the country left only some facilities in use.  The others stand abandoned; some boarded up with posted guards and others razed to the ground. Some places are shrouded in controversy, as the history of Psychiatry has not always been pretty.  But these buildings still stand, many decaying and falling to disrepair and vandalism.  Others are sold to high bidders and converted to resorts or hospice care facilities.


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A quick internet search will come up with a host of rumors of hauntings and demons and lore.  Ghost hunters armed with EVPs and Full Spectrum DVRs sneak through the boarded windows to attempt to capture some sort of paranormal phenomenon. Many of these hospitals have such sad histories: from the deaths of sick children to the unnecessary suffering unwittingly caused by doctors trying to do their best. But for every intrepid ghost hunter, there are four or five scumbags who think it’s fun or cool to vandalize. Because of this, many of these buildings have serious vandalism problems and are usually closed to the public.

Back side of the hospital, facing the ocean. Note the huge balcony on the second floor.

With a stroke of luck, my dear friend and muse, Melissa Damon found out about a place called Seaside Sanitarium. Both of us working on Paranormal Romances, we grabbed our notebooks and our swimsuits and packed into the car to investigate.  Built in 1934 and originally named Seaside Regional Center, this facility was built for the express purpose of treating children with tuberculosis. The design of the facility was to use a treatment called ‘heliotherapy.’ With heliotherapy, the children were basically treated with exposure to the sun.  Beautiful balconies and patios were designed facing the Long Island sound, and the beds would be wheeled out during the day so patients could be in the sun.  Pathways led down to three beaches for wheelchair access.

Rough life, right? Though tuberculosis was a horrible disease, I feel like living in this hospital might have made things somewhat better.

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Ivy climbing up the brick, awesome windows.

In 1959 the hospital changed over to be a geriatric facility and remained as such until  May 1961 when it was converted to Seaside Regional Center for the Mentally Retarded under the administration of the Dept. of Health and Office of Mental Retardation.  It remained a rehabilitation center until 1996 when it was closed.  It has been closed ever since.  Offers to buy the property have come, but so far a suitable offer has not been made on the facility.  With seven buildings and three beaches, it is a formidable seaside resort.

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Strange noises from below… Ghosts? Or Birds? *NOTE* upon posting this picture I CAN NOT account for why it appears to be glowing red in there. I have NO explanation for this.

And its SUPER CREEPY which makes it awesome.

As we were wandering around the buildings, you could just catch the strangest movements out of the corner of your eye.  Most of the movements and noises were caused by the sparrows that live in the tunnels underneath the hospital. Since I’m not really an expert, I can’t tell you if they were garages or storage facilities or what they were.  But they were creepy.

The sparrows nest in these tunnels and the flapping echoes so it sounds like people moving.  The chirps sound like they could be children crying.  Its really very unsettling.

But explicable.

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About as close as I get to trespassing.

Please don’t mistake me: I am a believer through and through in all things paranormal. I have been to places that scared me so profoundly I can’t talk about them alone. Seaside was not one of them. I was filled with a peace and a happiness as we wandered around the grounds.  Without a camera, I had to rely on my cellphone to grab these shots.  I was so inspired by the architecture and the story that I truly enjoyed wandering around through the grass, snapping shots.

We got up close to the building to try to sneak shots in through the windows, but I didn’t dare try to get in for fear that it was dangerous.  And really, I’m not big on rule breaking.  I am not really one to make waves. If there is a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, I’m not going to trespass.  Its just how I roll. So Melissa and I run around like teenagers exploring.  But its really REALLY hot out, so we pack up and head towards the beach.  Since the property is state owned, but open to the public, the beaches are at your own risk.  There are no lifeguards on duty and there isn’t anyone making sure all the seaweed is gone.

So we lay out our towels and head off to the deliciously cool and refreshing water. We’re relaxing and enjoying the water, chatting about all the fantastic story ideas that a beautiful place like this can immediately conjure up.  Both of us deliciously plot over using a hospital like this as a plot point or for a photo shoot or for a television show of some sort.  I’m watching the windows, still not entirely convinced I won’t see a ghost, when I do, in fact see movement.

I see a teenage boy climb out of a window on the top floor.

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Jerk.

Jealous for a moment at his ninja break-in skills, I envy the view from up there.  I envy him quietly until I see him pull out a can of orange spray paint.

I splash Melissa and mutter about how jerks like him will ruin places like this for everyone else.  She takes one look at the kid and starts off up the shore, yelling at him like his mother.

The little jerk WAVES.  Then spray paints an array of letters onto the side of the wall and slips back in through another broken window.  Melissa marches up the beach, intent on finding a cell phone signal to call the police.  He and his friends sneak in and out of windows, causing more damage and ‘redecorating’ a few more sections of wall before the police actually show up.

Then they’re no-where to be found.

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Lighthouse. Also creepy window that looks like someone is in there.

I have no problem with urban exploring.

I have no issues with sneaking into old and abandoned places of history to take pictures, search for spirits or spend time alone.  None.  Just so long as you aren’t causing any damage.  But for someone to do that, it runs these buildings into the ground- LITERALLY.

Without getting preachy, I was really disappointed.  Its not cool to vandalize, and no-one is impressed.

And he got caught.

But that’s Melissa’s story.

So enjoy a few more pictures without my commentary.  NEXT WEEK PICTURES FROM TOKYO AND VIETNAM, YO.

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Yeah, I can’t explain it.

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To the left of the entrance were doctor’s offices. Also, notice the EPIC thunderstorm brewing.

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Looks kinda like a seaside resort. Which… was the idea. Mission accomplished. 

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For ghosts. …did you hear that? OMG DID THAT JUST MOVE!!?!?

About mdydyn

Writer, Blogger, Delusional Optimist.
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9 Responses to Urban Exploring: Seaside Regional Center

  1. The Kitten says:

    see, Atlanta’s one of the original thirteen colonies, too. But…there’s not much here anymore that predates the 1880s or so. Except, you know, the RING FORT in north Georgia that no one can explain.

    Gorgeous pictures! I remember some of those unspeakably scary places.

  2. mc says:

    I frequent seaside all year long and have been for about the past six years. Its my favorite beach because it usually never busy except on occassional weekends. There were other buildings on the property and one on the each that have since been demolished since 2009. Each year it has gotten worse with the vandalism, especially since the guard isnt there everyday like he used to be. I have explored the inside back in 2010, before thw no trespassing signs, but these damn teenagers are ruining everything. If you’d like to see my pictures, let me know. And that tree with no leaves has been like that since hurricane irene.

    • mamerwin says:

      I would love to see your pictures!

      • mc says:

        I can email them to you sometime this weekend. Whats your email, is it located on this page somewhere? And I think i was at the beach that day because i remember some punk kid doing that and was pissed because those kids ruin it for people who dont vandalize.

  3. Elizabeth Finn Acevedo says:

    It is so interesting to hear your comments on Seaside. I grew up at Seaside Regional Center, living there for 17 years. My dad, Fred F. Finn was the superintendent and we lived on the grounds in a beautiful home, that along with the other buildings is deteriorating from neglect and vandalism. When you speak about the peaceful feeling this wonderful place involks, it reminds me of my youth. Seaside was a model for the country in the care and treatment of individuals with mental retardation. My dad devoted his life to ensuring that EVERY human being be treated with dignity! Seaside had playgrounds filled with laughter. It has horses and a nature trail with all sorts of animals to enjoy! During the summer, every resident, regardless of disability had the opportunity to swim in the calming water of Long Island Sound. I spent every day of my life from the time I was 11 years old in the buildings of Seaside, volunteering and learning empathy and how to appreciate each human being for exactly who they are!! Seaside was a place of joy and possibility and my heart is broken to see it now!!

    • mamerwin says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I think it’s sad to see how many people assume that it was a terrible place simply because it’s closed now. I think the buildings are beautiful and i feel like I would have loved to be a patient at such a lovely place.

  4. Elizabeth Finn Acevedo says:

    Sorry sp. error-invokes

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