Norwich State Hospital

Coordinates: 41°29′21″N 72°4′24″W / 41.48917°N 72.07333°W / 41.48917; -72.07333
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Norwich Hospital District
Norwich State Hospital is located in Connecticut
Norwich State Hospital
Norwich State Hospital is located in the United States
Norwich State Hospital
LocationCT 12, Norwich-Preston, Connecticut
Coordinates41°29′21″N 72°4′24″W / 41.48917°N 72.07333°W / 41.48917; -72.07333
Area70 acres (28 ha)
ArchitectCudworth & Woodworth
Architectural styleColonial Revival, Late Gothic Revival
NRHP reference No.87002424[1]
Added to NRHPJanuary 22, 1988

The Norwich State Hospital, originally established as the Norwich State Hospital for the Insane, later shortened to the Norwich Hospital, was a psychiatric hospital located in Preston and Norwich, Connecticut. It opened its doors in October 1904[2] and operated until October 10, 1996. Throughout the near century it operated, it housed geriatric patients, chemically dependent patients, and from 1931-1939, tubercular patients. The hospital, which sits on the banks of the Thames River, began with a single building on 100 acres of land, and expanded to over 30 buildings and 900 acres at it's peak. A 70 acre property including the hospital was listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

After the closure of the hospital in 1996 all remaining patients were transferred out, and the property was left unused and abandoned. Multiple parties expressed interest in the property, and in 2009, the State of Connecticut sold the 393 acres of the Norwich State Hospital site to the town of Preston for $1 and with the sale the town of Preston agreed to perform the needed environmental remediation of the property before any development was to begin on the site.[3] The town of Preston reached an agreement in May 2016 with the Mohegan Tribe to develop the property into the Preston Riverwalk. This is described by the Mohegan Tribe as a "non-gaming destination with outdoor and indoor attractions, hotel and retail space, restaurants, housing, a marine, an RV Park and more".[4]

Currently the grounds of the State Hospital are undergoing remediation and demolition work in preparation for the planned Preston Riverwalk. The Mohegan Tribe has stated that the Administration building will be preserved and restored as part of the project.


Development of the grounds[edit]

In October, 1904 when the hospital first opened, it held 95 patients and was a single building. The facility quickly outgrew its meager beginnings, and by fall of 1905, it held 151 patients and had expanded its housing by adding two additional buildings. The original building was soon converted to administrative offices.[5] In 1907, a third patient building was opened, and over the next eight years, there would be the addition of thirteen structures to the grounds.[6] The hospital began to branch out, no longer creating housing intended only for patients, but for hospital physicians, a laboratory, an employees club, a main kitchen and various other structures to support the every-day workings of the hospital. Like most mental hospitals at that time, it was self-sufficient, a barn, two garages, a paint shop and a greenhouse were also added. By the end of the 1930s, over twenty buildings had been added to the grounds.[7]

To provide an identification system, each building was originally assigned a letter name. The original campus had ward buildings grouped in pairs and designated as "North" for female patients or "South" for male patients. Around 1940, each building was given a name in honor of the founding superintendents of the American Psychiatric Association and well-known mental health advocates such as Thomas Story Kirkbride and Dorothea Dix.[8] Later buildings were named after recognized contributors to the hospital, including Connecticut governors Abraham Ribicoff and John Davis Lodge. The Ronald H. Kettle Center opened in 1960 as the new medical-surgical facility and was the largest building on the property. Built like a general hospital, it reflected the then-modern belief that mental illness could be treated biologically on a short-term stay, thus reducing the need for antiquated long-term care wards. The Ribicoff Research Center was built perpendicular to Kettle to facilitate the discovery of new treatment techniques. Gradually, as the number of patients and employees began to decrease, when a new structure was built, an older one would be closed, and by the early 1970s, only 7 of the original buildings were still in use, the others used for either storage or abandoned completely.[9] As the process of deinstitutionalization progressed, a new law required all patients' cases to be reviewed every two years. This, along with threats of strike from the union, lead to the hospital vacating many more of its buildings in 1979. By the time the hospital closed in 1996, only a fraction of the campus was still operating. All patients were now housed in the Kettle building along with geriatric patients in Seymour. The Gallup building continued to house the Boneski Treatment Center for chemical dependency, and other buildings still in use up to closure included Administration, Lodge, Russell, Ribicoff, the chapel, utility buildings, and employee housing facilities across the street.

Due to the large number to structures and the hundreds of acres they stood on, the majority of buildings were connected by a series of underground passageways. The main purpose of these tunnels were for the utilities, however, they were often used to transport patients from one area to another. In the mid 2000's, the tunnels became a means of transportation for trespassers who hope to explore the grounds of the hospital undetected by the security officers who have been hired by the state to patrol the vacant site.[10]

Timeline of changes and patient census (1904 to 1996)[edit]

  • 1904-Established as Norwich State Hospital for the Insane, patient population was 95
  • 1904-Henry M. Pollock, M.D. became Superintendent
  • 1905-Establishment of a training school for nurses
  • 1913-Patient population was 998
  • 1916-Patient population was 1,227
  • 1917-Franklin Wilcox, M.D. became Superintendent
  • 1918-Patient population was 1,231
  • 1920-Patient population was 1,341
  • 1926-Name was changed to Norwich State Hospital
  • 1928-Elijah S. Burdsall, M.D. became Superintendent
  • 1929-Patient population was 2,175
  • 1930-Patient population was 2,422, training school for nurses closed due to inability to meet the standards of the State Board of Nurse Examiners
  • 1934-Chester A. Waterman, M.D. became Superintendent
  • 1939-Patient population was 2,918.
  • 1939-Governor Baldwin and the State Legislature form the Commission on the Treatment and Care of People Afflicted with Physical or Mental Disabilities. First order of business was the investigation of conditions at Norwich State Hospital.
  • 1940-William A. Bryan, M.D. became Superintendent
  • 1941-For the first time since opening, discharges of patients (917) exceeded the admissions of patients (626)
  • 1942-Superintendent Bryan responds to the staffing crisis during World War II by using conscientious objectors [11][12]
  • 1942-Superintendent Bryan employs selected patients to serve as "patient attendants" during World War II [13]
  • 1945-Riley H. Guthrie, M.D. became Superintendent
  • 1948-Ronald H. Kettle, M.D. became Superintendent
  • 1953-Administratively transferred to the Department of Mental Health
  • 1955-Patient population was 3,184 (highest annual average in hospital's history)
  • 1960-Patient population was 2,685
  • 1961-Renamed Norwich Hospital
  • 1966-Morgan Martin, M.D. became Superintendent
  • 1972-Patient population was 1,148
  • 1978-Francis K. Hayes became Superintendent
  • 1984-Luigi Saracino M.D. became Superintendent
  • 1985-Garrell S. Mullaney became Superintendent
  • 1988-National Register of Historic Places listing
  • 1994-Total beds were 649
  • 1996-Andrew S. Phillips became Superintendent
  • 1996-Norwich Hospital was officially closed and remaining patients were transferred to Connecticut Valley Hospital


Hospital Buildings[edit]

Name Original Name Year Constructed Year Closed Architecture Sq. Ft. Original Use Later Uses Notes
Administration Building 1908 1996 Late Gothic Revival 22,391 Administrative offices[5][14] The building has been weatherized and buttoned up to prevent further decay and is being saved for future development.
Central Theater, Dance Hall, Cafeteria, and Storeroom Main Building 1908 1970s Late Gothic Revival 79,396 Theater, cafeteria, kitchen, dance hall, storeroom A 1950s kitchen addition was built on the back of the building that continued to be used until the hospital's closure.
Lippitt Building 1920 1979 Colonial Revival 22,391 Medical/surgical Methadone clinic The second medical/surgical building of its kind in the country.[15]
Russell Occupational Therapy Building 1956 1996 Modern 106,186 Occupational therapy, recreation, rehabilitative classes The patient canteen and security office were also housed in the Russell Building.[16]
Ribicoff Research Center 1962 1996 Modern 30,635 Clinical psychiatric and pathological research laboratory
Pond View Building 1959 1996 Modern Employee housing[17]
Martin House Outreach 1930s 1996 Colonial Revival 23,566 Employee housing Outreach program, later the Martin House program The Martin House program provided low-income housing for former psychiatric patients.
Pathway House Gateway 1930s 1996 Colonial Revival 23,566 Employee housing Gateway program, later Pathway House Pathway House provided a psychosocial rehabilitation program.
Nurses' Home 1939 1996 Colonial Revival Nurses' dormitory
Chapel 1963 1996 Modern 7,617 Chapel A daycare program for children of hospital employees was opened in the newly renovated chapel in 1994.

Patient Ward Buildings[edit]

Name Original Name Year Constructed Year Closed Architecture Sq. Ft. Original Use Later Uses Notes
Ronald H. Kettle Treatment Center 1959 1997 Modern 250,000 Admissions, medical treatment, and offices[18] Following the hospital's closure, the Southeastern Connecticut Mental Health Authority occupied this building until 1997.[19][20]
Lodge Building 1956 1997 Modern 96,395 Women's treatment center Continued care facility Although the last patients moved out in 1994, the Southeastern Connecticut Mental Health Authority occupied this building until 1997.[19]
Seymour Building 1939 1996 Colonial Revival 32,156 Medical infirmary Intensive geriatric care and admissions[19]
Salmon and Awl Buildings South and North A[21] 1905 1971 Late Gothic Revival 24,508 Male maximum Security / Female parlor ward[22][23]
Brigham and Bell Buildings South and North B[21] 1907 1970s Late Gothic Revival 45,840 Male, female patient housing Token economy program (Bell) The last patients moved out of both buildings in 1971.
White and Cutter Buildings South and North C[21] 1910s White: 1956, Cutter: 1967 Colonial Revival Male, female patient housing Storage In 1975, Cutter was demolished and White was reduced to one story to preserve the underground utilities going to Stribling.[24]
Stribling and Dix Buildings South and North D[21] 1911 Stribling: 1979, Dix: 1956 Colonial Revival 20,086 Violent male, female patient housing Storage
Earle and Butler Buildings South and North E[21] 1912 Earle: 1990s, Butler: 1970s Colonial Revival 29,248 Epileptic male, female patient housing Maintenance building (Earle), trade school (Butler) The last patients moved out of both buildings in 1956.[25]
Stedman and Woodward Buildings South and North F[21] 1913 1980s Colonial Revival 31,472 Male, female patient housing Housekeeping (Stedman), finance and control classes (Woodward) The last patients moved out of both buildings in 1971.
Gallup and Mitchell Buildings South H and North G (see note) 1926 Gallup: 1996, Mitchell: 1970s Colonial Revival 46,069 Well-behaved male, female patient housing Boneski Treatment Center (Gallup), Valiance House (Mitchell)[26] The Eugene T. Boneski Treatment Center occupied the Gallup Building from 1987 to 1996.[18] A conflicting source labels Gallup and Mitchell as South and North G, however, two other sources group Galt and Mitchell together.[27]
Galt Building South G[21] 1922 1980s Colonial Revival 35,762 Geriatric male patient housing Firehouse The last patients moved out in 1971.
Ray Building North H[21] 1926 1996 Colonial Revival 26,606 Geriatric female patient housing Print shop The last patients moved out in 1979. Ray is identical to Kirkbride.
Kirkbride Building South K[21] 1926 1996 Colonial Revival 26,606 Geriatric male patient housing Red Cross shelter[28] The last patients moved out in 1979. Kirkbride is identical to Ray. Despite its name, the building was not designed under the Kirkbride Plan.
Bryan Building 1936 1979 Colonial Revival 26,606 Geriatric patient housing Adolescent clinic The building was originally the New London County Temporary Home, but was purchased by the hospital and dedicated in 1949.[29]
The Pines 1921 Tubercular patient housing Originally called the "Tubercular Pavilion," the building was closed and demolished after the Seymour Building opened.
  • Fifteen physician's cottages, a power house, kitchen, and laundry building were constructed in the 1950s.[19]
  • Numerous cottages, a trade school, firehouse, carpenter and maintenance shop, club house, staff house, greenhouse, and garages were constructed on the campus.[19][21]
  • Numerous farm buildings were demolished in the 1970s after the hospital discontinued its agricultural therapy.


The hospital was listed on the National Register in 1988. The NRHP listing included 40 contributing buildings and two contributing structures on 70 acres.[1] It includes work by architects Cudworth & Woodworth. It includes Colonial Revival and Late Gothic Revival architecture.[1]

The district was deemed historically significant as illustrating a historic view of mental health treatment.[30]

In 1996, when Norwich State Hospital was closed, the State Department of Public Works (DPW) became responsible for the property. In 2005, after several unsuccessful attempts to sell the property, The DPW proposed the sale of 419 acres (170 ha) of the former hospital's campus to the town of Preston, and 61 acres (25 ha) to the town of Norwich for one dollar. Both towns were given three years to close the transfer of the property.[31]

In March, 2009, the town of Preston purchased 390 acres (160 ha) of the property offered to them by the state. In spring of 2009, the Preston Redevelopment Agency was created to oversee the development of the newly acquired property. According to the sale agreement, the state would provide for the security presence, maintenance and insurance of the property until March, 2010, at which point the town of Preston would take responsibility for the cost of these, as well as begin the property cleanup.[32]


Since the DPW first made an offer to the town of Preston to purchase a portion of the Norwich State Hospital, several proposals have been submitted for the use of the property. One of the earliest proposals was submitted by Utopia Studios, and was approved in May 2006. Utopia promised an entertainment complex consisting of a theme park, 4,200 hotel rooms, a performing arts school and a movie studio. The projected cost of this project was around $1.6 billion and was viewed favorably by the voters. However, in November of the same year, the proposal was canceled by the town due to Utopia missing several key deadlines and, most importantly, failing to place $53 million in escrow as agreed.[32]

In 2008, two developers, Northlang Investment Corporation and Preston Gateway Partners LLC, sought for approval to develop the land. The town accepted Northland's proposal for a billion-dollar luxury resort, but in November 2008, this plan was ended as well. Since then, eight additional developers have submitted proposals to develop the property, but as of March 2010 no agreement has been reached.[33][34]

The property, which has become known as the Preston Riverwalk, had been considered for a project by the town's parks and recreation department. This would have included a public access park for bird-watching, fishing and various other outdoor activities. On May 13, 2016, the Mohegan Tribe reached an agreement with Town of Preston to purchase the land. According to the Hartford Courant,[35] the land will be used "for office, retail, entertainment, recreation and possibly housing." It will not become tribal land, meaning that whatever is built there will be a source of state and local tax revenue.

Demolition, Site Remediation & Redevelopment[edit]

The Norwich State Hospital is listed on both the state and national historic register as a place of architectural and historical significance and thus many of the buildings, grounds, and infrastructure can not be removed (or even cleaned of medical waste material) without exception from both state and federal historical authorities.

Demolition on the property began in Spring 2011, with the intentional caving-in of the service tunnels surrounding the Administration building. The Salmon, Awl, and the Cafeteria-Theater buildings were demolished by end of 2011. In 2012, the Ribicoff, the Power Plant, Chapel buildings along with several cottages were demolished. Demolition continued through November 2014, exposing the interior stairwell of the Kettle building which was featured in The Day.[36] All interior roadways were stripped of asphalt by mid-late 2018 and a major excavation commenced near the site of the Lodge building.

The Administration Building has been weatherized to prevent further decay and will be saved for future development.[37] In late 2020 the discovery of buried coal ash and its mandated remediation have required more funding to complete the cleanup. By August 2021, all buildings on the Preston side of the campus have been demolished except for the Ray, Gallup, and Mitchell buildings.[citation needed] A time capsule was discovered within the Russell Occupational Therapy building. The Preston Redevelopment Agency proposed transferring this time capsule to the local historical society.[38]

Preston Redevelopment Agency stated in October 2023 that all remaining structures would stand until the property is transferred to the Mohegan Tribe. The Mohegan Tribe stated that the only structure that will be preserved once development begins is the Administration building.[39] As of May 2024, remediation activities continue at the site.[40]

TV appearances[edit]

Episodes two and four of season one of VH1's Celebrity Paranormal Project were filmed at the mental hospital though most likely to protect the place it was referred to as Warson Asylum for the Criminally Insane during both episodes.

The Norwich State Hospital was featured in the TV series Life After People, in the episode titled "Crypt of Civilization", which aired on January 19, 2010.

Syfy Channel's Ghost Hunters paranormal investigating team explored the location in their sixth season which aired May 5, 2010.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Connecticut. Norwich Hospital for the Insane. Report of the Norwich Hospital for the Insane to the Governor for the two years ended September 30, 1906. State of Connecticut Public Document no. 51. p. 9.
  3. ^ MOSHER, JAMES. "State finds buyer for portion of Norwich Hospital land". Norwich Bulletin. Retrieved May 7, 2024.
  4. ^ Mohegan Tribe. "Preston Riverwalk Project".
  5. ^ a b "The Bridgeport Post from Bridgeport, Connecticut on January 7, 1968 · Page 53". January 7, 1968.
  6. ^ Corey Sipe, "Associated Content", 11/02/2006, 06/06/2010
  7. ^ "History of Norwich State Hospital to 1972". Archived from the original on September 17, 2010. Retrieved June 6, 2010.
  8. ^ Hurd, Henry Mills; Drewry, William Francis; Dewey, Richard Smith; Pilgrim, Charles Winfield; Blumer, G. Alder (George Alder); Burgess, Thomas Joseph Workman (October 22, 2017). "The institutional care of the insane in the United States and Canada". Baltimore, Md., The Johns Hopkins press – via Internet Archive.
  9. ^ "Norwich State Hospital". January 2, 2006. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  10. ^ "Better security sought at Norwich Hospital - Norwich State Hospital". Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  11. ^ Carini, Esta, et al. The Mentally Ill in Connecticut: Changing Patterns of Care and the Evolution of Psychiatric Nursing 1636-1972. Hartford : State of Connecticut, Dept. of Mental Health, 1974. p. 178-179.
  12. ^ Sareyan, Alex. The Turning Point: How Men of Conscience Brought About Major Change in the Care of America's Mentally Ill. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, 1994.
  13. ^ Connecticut. Norwich Hospital for the Insane. Report of the Norwich Hospital for the Insane to the Governor for the twenty-four months ended June 30, 1942. Hartford, Conn., 1942. State of Connecticut Public Document no. 51.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Login".
  16. ^ "The Hartford Courant article archive - State Therapy Group Will Meet in Norwich".[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "The Day - Google News Archive Search".
  18. ^ a b "Groton, CT Patch - Breaking News, Local News, Events, Schools, Weather, Sports and Shopping".
  19. ^ a b c d e "Montville, CT Patch - Breaking News, Local News, Events, Schools, Weather, Sports and Shopping".
  20. ^ [1] [dead link]
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Carini, Esta, et al. The Mentally Ill in Connecticut: Changing Patterns of Care and the Evolution of Psychiatric Nursing 1636-1972. Hartford : State of Connecticut, Dept. of Mental Health, 1974.
  22. ^ "Norwich State Hospital, Preston". June 6, 2010.
  23. ^ "Norwich State Hospital".
  24. ^ "The Day - Google News Archive Search".
  25. ^ "The Day - Google News Archive Search".
  26. ^ "The Day - Google News Archive Search".
  27. ^ Insurance maps of Norwich. New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1920-1951.
  28. ^ "The Hartford Courant article archive - 150 Norwich Hospital Patients Quarantined".
  29. ^ [2] [dead link]
  30. ^ Bruce Clouette; Matthew Roth & John Herzan (March 24, 1987). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Norwich Hospital". National Park Service. and accompanying photos
  31. ^ [3] [dead link]
  32. ^ a b [4] [dead link]
  33. ^ [5] [dead link]
  34. ^ [6] [dead link]
  35. ^ GOSSELIN, KENNETH R. (May 13, 2016). "Mohegan Tribe Reaches Agreement To Buy Former Hospital Site". Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  36. ^ Martin, Day (November 18, 2014). "Not much left of former Norwich Hospital building". The Day. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  37. ^ John Barry. "Preston tour shows far fewer buildings at hospital site".
  38. ^ Charpentier, Roberta (March 8, 2023). "Preston Redevelopment Agency, Regular Meeting Minutes, March 8, 2023".
  39. ^ Charpentier, Roberta. "Preston Redevelopment Agency, Regular Meeting Minutes, October 11, 2023". Preston, CT Website.
  40. ^ Charpentier, Roberta. "Preston Redevelopment Agency, Regular Meeting Minutes, April 10, 2024". Preston, CT Website.
  41. ^ "Syfy's Ghost Hunters finale, Norwich State preview - Monsters and Critics". Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2010.

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