Seaside Sanatorium

Waterford, Connecticut
The Seaside Sanatorium in Waterford, Connecticut, stands as a hauntingly beautiful testament to medical history and architectural elegance.
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About This Location

The Seaside Sanatorium in Waterford, Connecticut, stands as a hauntingly beautiful testament to medical history and architectural elegance. This abandoned facility, with its sweeping views of Long Island Sound, has a rich history as the first medical institution designed for the heliotropic treatment of tuberculosis in children. Its Tudor Revival architecture, a creation of the acclaimed Cass Gilbert, is not just an architectural marvel but also a poignant reminder of the evolution of medical treatments and societal attitudes toward illness and disability.

Founded in the 1930s, Seaside Sanatorium was a groundbreaking facility in its approach to treating tuberculosis. The idea was simple yet innovative for its time: prolonged exposure to sunlight and fresh sea air was believed to be beneficial in treating the disease. This belief was architecturally embodied in the facility’s design, with massive terraces facing the sea, where children could bask in the sunshine as part of their treatment. However, the advancement of medical drugs soon made this heliotropic treatment obsolete.

Over the years, Seaside’s role shifted dramatically. It served as a home for the elderly, a traditional medical hospital, and finally a facility for the intellectually disabled. Despite its noble intentions, the facility was not without controversy. It was featured in the exposé “Christmas in Purgatory,” which highlighted the humane and positive environment at Seaside, in stark contrast to the grim realities of many other state institutions of the time. Yet, by the mid-1990s, the need for such a facility had dwindled, leading to its closure in 1996.

Today, Seaside Sanatorium is part of Connecticut’s state park system. Visitors can explore the grounds and admire the perimeters of its various buildings. While the main sanatorium buildings stand within a publicly accessible state park, visitors should be mindful of park regulations and the watchful eyes of park rangers.

The Seaside is not just an architectural gem; it’s also shrouded in mystery and tragedy. Allegations of patient abuse in the 1970s and an unusually high mortality rate in the mid-1990s have contributed to its dark lore. Paranormal investigations by groups like the New England Paranormal Video Research Group have added to its mystique, with reports of EVPs and spirit orb photographs fueling rumors of haunting.

The transition of the Seaside Sanatorium from a cutting-edge medical facility to an abandoned, eerie landmark reflects broader shifts in medical practices and societal views on health care and the treatment of the vulnerable. Its history is a complex tapestry of innovation, care, neglect, and redemption.

For those who visit, the Seaside Sanatorium offers not just a walk through an architectural masterpiece but also an opportunity to reflect on a bygone era of medical history and the evolving nature of health care. It’s a place where the walls speak of hope, despair, and the relentless passage of time, making it a must-visit destination for explorers drawn to the beauty and mystery of abandoned places.

Location

Address: 36 Shore Road, Waterford, Connecticut
Place GPS Coordinates: 41.301639, -72.129639
Parking GPS Coordinates: 41.301639, -72.129639
Parking Notes: There is a large parking lot on the western side of Seaside Drive, right off Shore Road in Waterford. The parking lot is in rough shape, but it is only a few hundred feet from the abandoned sanatorium. Parking is currently free.

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