5 abandoned spots in CT frozen in time

Innovation is happening all around us. Every day, new buildings are proposed, science introduces new forms of technology and the past fades away. However, there are still some places in Connecticut where the past remains in physical form. There are abandoned castles, theme parks and power plants that tell the tales of times long ago — and not so long ago.

There’s something about these spaces that tells us mystery still exists in the world, and history really can be a tangible thing that points us to where we’re going by reminding us of where we’ve been.

Read on for more about these currently or previously abandoned places in Connecticut.

NOTE: Please keep in mind that these sites are not open to the public but can be viewed in some cases from public areas. Please respect warning signs and keep a safe distance.

Pleasure Beach Bridgeport

The beach pavillion on Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport, Conn. May 20, 2008

The beach pavillion on Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport, Conn. May 20, 2008

John Burgeson / John Burgeson

Once a bustling seaside amusement park, this stretch of beach was abandoned after a fire in 1997 burned the only bridge leading to the beach between Bridgeport and Stratford. In 2009 and 2010, most of the carnival rides and beach cottages were fully demolished after the fire department declared them a fire hazard. The property was blocked off for a time, with some buildings remaining, like an octagon theater building and a pavilion that can be seen from the other side of the perimeter fence. In 2014, the beach reopened with a seasonal concession stand and ferry service to and from the beach.

Fairfield Hills Hospital

the old Fairfield Hills Hospital power plant building in Newtown, Conn. The hospital was a psychiatric hospital, run by the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health, which operated from 1931 until 1995. March 19, 2019.

the old Fairfield Hills Hospital power plant building in Newtown, Conn. The hospital was a psychiatric hospital, run by the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health, which operated from 1931 until 1995. March 19, 2019.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

Fairfield Hills Hospital, an old abandoned psychiatric hospital in Newtown, has had quite the history. It opened in the 1930s and ran for 60 years until it shut down in 1995. The following year, it was featured as a set piece in the movie “Sleepers,” which featured Brad Pitt, Robert DeNiro and Minnie Driver. Adding to the spook factor, the hospital featured a series of underground tunnels which have been filled in. The town has been in the process of repurposing the land, but some of it remains in its original state for now.

Johnsonville Village

Johnsonville Village in East Haddam is an abandoned Victorian mill town.

Johnsonville Village in East Haddam is an abandoned Victorian mill town.

Courtesy of JWeags Photography

Johnsonville Village, an abandoned mill town, looks something like that scene out of “Big Fish” — you know the one. There’s that little town with no roads and no one wears shoes and everything is grassy and picturesque. These abandoned buildings look more like the set for a Ghibli movie than anything else. The town has also passed through many hands over the years, with owners planning to turn the land into a tourist attraction — and then a hotel, and then a residential area. All of those plans fell through and Johnsonville faced the elements — it was even struck by lightning — until it fell into disrepair and remained abandoned for 20 years. In 2017, it was purchased by religious group Iglesia Ni Christo, which has other Connecticut locations in Stamford and Bristol. The church does not allow anyone on the property.

Hearthstone Castle

A recent fire at Hearthstone Castle in Danbury's Tarrywile Park has put the spotlight on the city's progress in restoring the 117 year old structure. Tuesday, September 1, 2015, in Danbury, Conn.

A recent fire at Hearthstone Castle in Danbury's Tarrywile Park has put the spotlight on the city's progress in restoring the 117 year old structure. Tuesday, September 1, 2015, in Danbury, Conn.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

There are BIG Narnia vibes in Danbury where a crumbling castle sits in the woods. Is it enchanted? Can’t say for sure, though my scientist friends all tell me a resounding “no.” The castle was originally built in 1896 by photographer E. Starr Sanford. It passed through the hands of several owners over the years until the City of Danbury purchased it in 1985. As of January 2021, the castle is blocked off the public as it undergoes construction to make it safe for visitors.

English Station

The former English Station power plant in New Haven photographed on July 27, 2020.

The former English Station power plant in New Haven photographed on July 27, 2020.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

This abandoned New Haven power plant is housed in an imposing brick building. It was constructed in 1924 as a plant for United Illuminating and closed 1991; the company sold the building nine years later. United Illuminating is responsible for cleaning up the site, which is considered dangerous to enter due to the hazardous materials — like asbestos — found inside. As of this month, the clean-up is still delayed and is three years behind schedule.

Nike Missile Site

Eric Muth, of Milford, visits the former Nike missile site in Milford, Conn. Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. Muth worked there during his time in the Army and Army National Guard before the site was decommissioned.

Eric Muth, of Milford, visits the former Nike missile site in Milford, Conn. Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. Muth worked there during his time in the Army and Army National Guard before the site was decommissioned.

Autumn Driscoll / Autumn Driscoll

This missile site was built in 1956 during the Cold War and was just one of 12 such sites in the state of Connecticut. It’s located in Meshomasic State Forest and can be accessed via Del Reeves Road, though the journey has to be made on foot. The control site has been demolished but the launch site remains, grown over by the forest.

sarajane.sullivan@hearstmediact.com, @bysarajane on Twitter