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A Norwich State Hospital Series: A Detox Unit Patient’s Story

A former Norwich State Hospital patient speaks out about the detox unit as part of a series of articles examining the hospital's history.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

joe April 07, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Zen must be on the chemicals again. What a bs story. My mom worked that building and was a supervisor. It was where the drunks would be brought as a last resort when the jails were full. Lots of my buddies drank or drugged their way in and were glad my mom helped them out. Just a detox. Save your ghost stories for tv
Dorothea Dix April 13, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Admin isn't 6 stories tall. Check your info before you publish another "article".
April April 14, 2012 at 10:26 AM
I used to take care of former staff of Norwich state (as a CNA) and my spouse worked in group homes where some former patients were transferred to. Norwich state WAS a terrible place and many former patients who are now doing fine in their group homes can't wait to see the place torn down. If you read your history the farther back you go the worse the patients were treated. Anyone who claims Norwich state was a good place hasn't read their history or is completely dilutional. Get a grip people this is our history the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately Norwich state more often than not was bad and ugly. I HAVE done my research because I have a bizzar obsession with the property.
PSH August 23, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I was one of the many "Girl Intrupted" patients in the NW corner of the main NSH building. The end of the hallway of "solitary" rooms had a clear view of the cemetary. Although there were some girls there for drug addiction, many girls were committed by their parents for social non-conformity, ie; burning bras, refusing the USCG dances, exchanging "Drafting" or "Metal Shop" classes for "Home Ec.". The cemetary was one of the pass times that the girls would look at night. Some girls saw ghosts & some never did. There was still a trend to institute people who were psychic or mediums at that time. I think the girls that saw the ghosts were more sensitive to psychic energy and may have grown up to become some of the well respected mediums. Visit one of the Spiritualist churches in the area & you may run into a medium that does a reading that will blow your mind. Although my reasons for being committed to NSH would, by todays standards would be just wrong and unacceptable, NSH did do psych tests, presented the results to a Judge on my behalf and got me emacipated at 17. They secured me a job at a local lawyer's office and a place to live in a transitional home for girls. Their conclusion was that my parents were loonier for having me committed than their claim that I was the crazy one. My councelor was Barbara N. & even now that I am a 58 yr old grandmother, I am still grateful for her help and belief in me at a time when I was trying to learn how to "fly from the nest". - PSH

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