After Oct. 1, each year the leaves begin to shed from the maple trees and an eerie atmosphere envelops New England. As Halloween season approaches, adrenaline junkies flock to haunted houses, corn mazes and Six Flags Fright Fest to be scared into submission by zombie clowns and bloody chainsaws. Their only consolation is the fact that these characters are only just that - characters. Behind their costumes are normal people, not the crazed killers or creepy apparitions that they appear to be.
What if there was a haunted house with no one hired to jump out at you, no fake blood or scary strobe lights, but instead only real-life apparitions and voices calling out to you for help.
Nestled along the Long Island Sound in Waterford, Connecticut stands Seaside Sanatorium, the closest thing you will find to a real haunted house on the New England shoreline. Built in the early 1930s and designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert, the facility was intended to serve as a live-in treatment center for children diagnosed with tuberculosis.
The elegant aesthetic and prime oceanside location of the enormous facility was no accident. In fact, the treatment center’s main purpose was to provide the young tuberculosis patients with ample sunlight and fresh air, a practice known as heliotropic therapy, in order to subdue their symptoms and add days to their life.
The heliotropic facility was the first of its time, with 45 patients at any given time and always an extensive waitlist of patients anxious to move onto the scenic property. If you ever get the chance to visit, you, too, will be charmed by the elegant victorian style buildings and salty sea air.
After several decades of practice, the reputation of Seaside took a turn for the worse as rumors surfaced about unfair treatment of patients often to the point of abuse, along with an uncanny suicide rate. To the public, Seaside became a place to avoid and a subject not often discussed. To its resident patients, however, the facility was a prison in which they could not escape.
Seaside Sanatorium was closed in the late 1990s after reporting an extremely high death rate of several hundred deceased patients. Visit this beachfront facility today and you will experience the irony of this beautiful property with a torturous past.
From the outside, the building advertises “Do Not Enter” signs on nearly every window and entryway. The main building’s disheveled appearance on the outside is nothing compared to the ruin of the inside.
Perhaps the creepiest part about the entire facility is the fact that none of the equipment used for treatment was removed or even cleaned up. Look inside one of the dozens of broken windows and you will be able to see just what life was like for the patients of Seaside. Hospital beds with mysterious tools next to them and brightly colored posters fill each of the rooms.
The entire property has been investigated by paranormal activity teams who have reported EVPs (electronic voice phenomena), spirit orb photographs and a strong presence of apparitions. Community members who have conducted their own investigations inside report hearing pleas for help and seeing the swing set in the backyard being in use with no one on it.
The only way to confirm these suspicions is to visit this real life haunted house yourself and take a look around. It’s not likely you will come back disappointed.
Sara Coiro is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.