If the walls of the buildings at the former 390-acre Norwich State Hospital could talk, they would have plenty to say. We are kicking off a series that will explore the former mental-health facility, which was located in Preston and Norwich, and closed in 1996.
Some of the information comes from my Yahoo Contributor Network page.
In her blog “zen” writes that she received court-ordered chemical dependency care at the hospital's Eugene T. Boneski Treatment Center in the Gallup Building in June 1992.
The center dealt with patients who had chemical dependency such as alcohol, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs. Treatment was usually given to those who were under the influence, or claimed they were, when committing a crime.
The severity of the crime dictates whether this treatment is coupled with probation. For some folks, this is their last punishment while for others this is the last step before being sent to prison.
Zen was sentenced for her string of car stereo thefts and several times was charged with disturbing the peace, drunk and disorderly, and other larcenies.
The building that will haunt Zen the most is the 1913 six-story Administration Building with its gothic architecture.
When she saw that building, she knew it would swallow her for a 90-day stay.
Zen described the hospital’s detox unit as "truly-hell-in-a-box," where homeless people, who usually had bad hygiene, would stay for three or four days before being released on the streets. Patients were only able to watch a television with five or six channels or read old books or magazines and were restricted to their rooms or the day room. She described the experience as similar to prison except here patients had to wear pajamas and rubber booties.
When patients looked out windows at older abandoned buildings on campus, they wondered what barbaric experiments and trials had secretly been performed there.
Buildings on the northern and central portions of the hospital have been abandoned for decades. Patients were moved to newer buildings on the southern portion of the campus.
When many think of Norwich State Hospital, they picture the Kettle Building, one of the most recently built buildings in 1959 near the Route 12 and Route 2A intersection.
Zen said that Kettle once housed patients who heard voices and saw things coming out of the darkness.
Ironically, explorers of Kettle and other hospital buildings have had similar experiences.
About the Series
We encourage former patients, medical staff and hospital visitors to share their stories with Patch. The Preston Redevelopment Agency has invited the public to park across from Route 12 at a small turnoff and stand at the security fence to watch the demolition. The Salmon Building, which housed criminally insane men until it was shut down in 1971, was the first large-scale building to be demolished. Next to Salmon is the Administration Building, which is the only building that will be saved. Here is a map.