Oh Halloween, that magical time of year when Americans get to trade their everyday identities for something a little more exciting. Jack-o-lanterns adorn the front stoop of every suburban household, waiting all their lives for that one glorious night after which they will either find their brains splattered in the street or they will be left outside to rot in the cold. Children, who some argue are ghouls and goblins to begin with, run rampant in costume and terrorize their neighborhoods demanding goodies on penalty of the terrifying threat of “trick.”
This year, for the holiday that is literally the nightmare before Christmas (or is that Black Friday?), we’re going to bring you something truly “spirited”. As the resident expert on the paranormal, or ghostbuster if you will, I’m here to serve up 20 of Connecticut’s scariest haunted places and local legends. Brace yourselves – things are about to get spooky.
Dan Aykroyd calls Dudleytown “one of the most haunted places on the Earth”. Take it from one of the original Ghostbusters – this place is terrifying. To the untrained eye, this site consists of a handful of stone foundations in the woods, all that remains of an abandoned village founded in the early 1700’s. Walking among these foundations, one quickly realizes there is something still lurking in Dudleytown. Most visitors report an eerie silence devoid of standard wildlife sounds, electronic malfunction, cold spots and ghost orbs or colored mist. More unfortunate visitors report horrible inhuman screams, strange voices caught on tape, evidence of animal sacrifice, nosebleeds, spontaneous skin rashes or burns, dread zones and unidentifiable bipedal creatures with green eyes and goat legs (yes, you read that correctly). The entire region is deemed a pillar of negative energy, with reports/rumors of a vortex that draws the things that do more than just go bump in the night. Not for the faint of heart.
Union Cemetery: Easton
This 17th century graveyard is quite possibly the most famous paranormal site in Connecticut. Its most well-known resident is the White Lady, seen and documented by dozens of witnesses. Ed Warren (of the famous paranormal experts, the Warrens) caught her on video and used to show it every year for a Halloween dinner event. A translucent apparition, she glides about the cemetery grounds. Reports claim she has manifested in a more solid state, just in time to be hit by passing cars. Her origin and identity are debatable – some say she was murdered and dumped on the church grounds, others say she is searching for a lost child. She is kept company by several other recurring spirits. One is referred to as the “Hitchhiker”, aptly named after reported appearances in the backseat of cars driving down Route 59 past the graveyard. The other is “Red Eyes”, which is possibly the ghost of a man who died across the street in the 1930’s after being set on fire.
Visitors report cold spots, strange shadows, heated headstones and the feeling of being watched. Photos of ghost orbs are extremely common from this active paranormal site.
Bara-Hack Settlement: Pomfret
Nestled deep in the forest of Eastern Connecticut, this paranormal gem has been reporting activity since the 1700’s when it was founded. It certainly isn’t called the “Village of Voices” for nothing. Visitors have reported hearing a wide variety of spectral sounds, ranging from children laughing to horse-drawn wagons. This abandoned village has even been rumored as an influence for The Blair Witch Project. The site consists of a main “downtown” area – basically a congregation of foundations. A path branches off here, leading to an old cemetery. Here lies the most commonly reported ghost of Pomfret, which witnesses can only describe as a baby sitting in the elm tree that towers over the small graveyard. Strangely enough, this baby has been consistently seen since the settlement was founded. An explanation has been offered up as the cause to Bara-Hack’s haunting, although it has nothing to do with ghosts. Some say the walls of time are thin here, making these woods an actual window to the past.
Visitors have experienced a paranormal cornucopia, from freaky sounds to baby ghosts. If you venture out into the woods, bring a partner. Ghosts can be scary, but mountain lions are downright terrifying.
Norwich State Hospital: Norwich
Here we have hundreds of acres of property littered with buildings erected on top of a Native American village (“they’re heeeere”). Ship in a few thousand criminally or just generally insane patients and you have yourself the perfect paranormal blend. As you can guess, these patients were supposedly tortured and abused, which adds to the generally negative energy that surrounds these places. This takes us from bad to worse, leaving a giant tomb brimming with malevolent spirits.
You name it – visitors have reported it. Witnesses have seen ghost orbs, thick mists, shadow figures, feelings of terror or being threatened, strange sounds, disembodied voices, screams, crying and full-on apparitions.
Hookman’s Cemetery: Seymour
There are several explanations as to why Great Hill Cemetery was nicknamed Hookman’s Cemetery. One involves a murderous caretaker who had a fondness for killing trespassers with a large hook. Another reports of a man named Hookman who was wrongfully executed and angrily seeks retribution. Let’s not forget the classic story of the boyfriend who gets murdered checking on a strange noise while his girlfriend sits inside the car, trying to peer out foggy windows. This 18th century graveyard is reported to be full of demonic activity. There are even tales of a house that once stood in the field behind the grounds in which a young man murdered his family, reminiscent of the famous Amityville story.
Visitors report ghost orbs, strange mist, overwhelming negative emotions, cold spots and frightening noises coming from the surrounding forest.
Fairfield Hills: Newtown
This abandoned mental institution was once home to thousands of patients. As was the case with most of these types of hospitals, many patients were mistreated and subjected to cruel methods of therapy. It is speculated that the spirits of these abused patients continue to roam the institute halls and the catacomb of underground passages that link the hospital buildings. MTV recruited WCSU students to film the St. Agnes episode of Fear here. The movie Sleepers was also filmed here.
Visitors report odd noises, screams, moans, being followed by disembodied footsteps and voices, seeing dark, crouching figures and also finding generally creepy décor in patient rooms.
Downs Road: Hamden
This run-down stretch of closed road is reportedly a stomping ground for some manner of strange creatures. Some describe them as demonic children while others view them as the Melon Heads common to Fairfield County legend. Whether they are cannibalistic asylum escapees, inbred deformities or something far worse (if you can imagine anything worse), local legend maintains they are out there lurking and waiting for new friends.
Visitors report high levels of anxiety, strange noises, unidentified creatures (some of which give chase) and also damage to their cars, including long claw or scratch marks down the sides.
Remington Arms Factory: Bridgeport
Bridgeport’s East End hides a 75-acre dark monument to the city’s past. Once one of the largest munitions factories in the country, all that remains now is a decaying eyesore, haunting the surrounding city with the memory of its past industrial success. Actually, even less remains of it now, thanks to a large fire in 2010 and the partial demolition involved. In its glory days, the factory was bustling with activity. If what they say is true, it still is.
Every factory has its share of accidents and the Remington Arms Factory was no different. Most notably, there was a large explosion in the 1940’s that took the lives of seven men and injured 80 others. Death and dismemberment – a definite catalyst for stirring the paranormal pot. Visitors have reported dark shadows creeping around the property, ghost orbs, voices, cold spots, feelings of discomfort, strange noises and disturbing screams piercing the silence of the abandoned plant.
Poli-Palace / Majestic Theaters & Savoy Hotel: Bridgeport
Heading North on Main Street in Bridgeport, as the modern business district gives way to a graveyard of boarded-up buildings, you will notice a giant structure on your left taking up a full city block. Here lie the remains of the Poli-Palace Theater, the Majestic Theater and the Savoy Hotel. On one end sits the Poli-Palace Theater, once visited by Mae West back when it was the largest theater in Connecticut. The Majestic theater is on the other side of the property, while the Savoy Hotel and its 109 rooms make up the middle. Closed since the 1970’s, the property has long been considered haunted for a variety of reasons ranging from an Indian Burial ground (did they move the bodies or just the stones?) to bootleggers and murder. Perhaps the spirits are just angry that the Palace served a small stint as an adult theater before finally closing.
Visitors can expect to be arrested, as the property is closely guarded by Sgt James Myers, Bridgeport PD’s very own ghostbuster. Witnesses have reported ghost orbs, shadowy figures, strange noises and voices, many of which have been recorded as EVP.
Evergreen Cemetery / Midnight Mary’s Grave: New Haven
“The people shall be troubled at midnight and pass away.” This comforting little statement adorns the headstone of Mary Hart, otherwise known as Midnight Mary. While some claim Mary to have been a witch, the most common story is that she was accidentally buried alive. When they dug the coffin back up, Mary was indeed dead, however it appeared she had been trying to claw her way out. If true, it could make for one angry ghost. According to local legend, terrible things happen to those who would dare visit Mary at midnight. Many have come to Evergreen Cemetery to tempt fate, some of which have never been seen again. Visitors have reported ghost orbs, shadowy figures, feelings of terror and horrible screams in the middle of the night. Of course, the screams could always be attributed to the nasty surrounding neighborhood.
Green Lady Cemetery: Burlington
Like Union Cemetery in Easton, the Seventh-Day Baptist Cemetery in Burlington is notorious for a specific resident ghost. The Green Lady, named for the green mist she often appears in, is rumored to be the spirit of Elisabeth Palmiter, a woman who supposedly drowned in the nearby swamp. Elisabeth’s legend varies with the telling – one version has her freezing to death in a snowstorm looking for her husband while another says her husband murdered her. Whatever the cause may be, the Green Lady seems to be here to stay.
Visitors have reported strange noises coming from the woods, cold spots, ghost orbs, voices, singing and of course the famous green mist.
Phelps Mansion: Stratford
While this local nightmare on Elm Street was demolished 40 years ago, the landmark still lives on through the fantastic stories that remain. Allow us to introduce the Stratford Poltergeist, who supposedly could give Beetlejuice a run for his money. Imagine walking downstairs to find your dining room turned into a paranormal art exhibit, filled with your family’s clothes set up in various poses. All manner of poltergeist activity followed. Household items were thrown about, family members were assaulted and a variety of strange sounds were a constant. Mysteriously, it all came to a halt in 1850, only to return with a vengeance in the 1970’s after the mansion became a nursing home. Our story ends in fiery climax, as part of the house burned down and the entire structure was finally demolished.
Visitors would be trespassing, as the site on Elm Street is now a quiet, suburban neighborhood.
Old Trinity Church: Brooklyn
This Anglican church, the oldest in Connecticut, is reported to have dark secrets buried on the grounds. While the strange, cross-shaped clearing near the church cemetery is creepy enough, the things reportedly seen there are even worse. Witnesses claim to have seen the spirits of young girls roaming here, supposedly because this was a haunting ground of serial killer Michael Ross. While the story of him writing in blood on the side of the church may be exaggerated, the fact that he was a resident of the town leaves us to draw our own frightening conclusions.
Some visitors report seeing apparitions, while others insist the only ghost here is the Holy Ghost.
Undercliff Sanatorium: Meriden
Undercliff’s dark hallways contain many painful memories. Like Seaside Sanatorium, this was once a hospital for sick children. It has long been reported to be a beacon of paranormal activity, a claim which seems to be grounded in some spooky fun facts about the location. The serial killer Hadden Clark was once a patient here, along with his brother and father. In fact, not too long ago, police were looking for bodies he supposedly buried around there. While the cause of death for most patients here was disease, one patient is said to have been murdered by fellow residents armed with plastic utensils. Let’s hope they weren’t sporks.
Visitors report children crying, loud screams, apparitions, ghost orbs, cold spots and the feeling or sounds of being followed by soft footsteps.
Seaside Sanatorium: Waterford
This facility has only been closed for 15 years, which makes it a baby in terms of abandoned institutions. Still, Seaside has its share of dark secrets. It has served many functions over the years, from housing children with tuberculosis to mentally handicapped patients. Excessive violence and patient-abuse became common, and the facility was finally shut down after a number of suspicious deaths.
Visitors have reported orbs, unexplained feelings of dread or depression, strange sounds and disembodied voices.
Connecticut Valley Hospital: Middletown
This historic insane asylum is still used as a psychiatric hospital. In fact, this October authorities were searching for a missing patient that disappeared. Was he running from the ghosts? Much of the expansive campus has been destroyed by fire or sorely-needed demolition, but the stories remain. Standard insane asylum lore applies – patient abuse and weird experiments cause restless ghosts. There is a large cemetery on the property filled with nameless, numbered headstones that is just downright depressing in its own right.
Visitors have reported ghost orbs, feelings of dread and discomfort, voices ranging from hushed moans to piercing screams, dark shadows, apparitions and live officers with trespassing tickets handy.
Penfield Reef Lighthouse: Fairfield
Standing just over a mile off of Fairfield Beach, this nearly 150-year old lighthouse has an interesting story to tell. While it has been automated for over 40 years, by all reports there is still someone wandering the keeper’s quarters. Roughly 100 years ago, the lighthouse keeper drowned a few days before Christmas in the rough, frigid waters surrounding the structure. Apparently, death hasn’t kept Frederick Jordan from continuing to do his job. The next lighthouse keeper had many run-ins with his predecessor, as did subsequent ones. One time, when a keeper went to record his experience in the log book, he found it turned to the page that described Jordan’s death. In 1942, two boys were saved from drowning after their boat capsized near the lighthouse. When they were taken to Penfield to thank their hero, they did not find him there, but were able to point him out in a picture. Their savior turned out to be Frederick Jordan, a man who had drowned 26 years earlier.
Visitors are uncommon, as you need a boat to get out there.