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The Abandoned Winchester Factory – New Haven’s Concrete Forest

(Old walkway between buildings at the abandoned Winchester factory in New haven. Photo courtesy of @ct.forgotten on Instagram)

I’ve lived in New Haven for the majority of my life, and I have tried to explore all I can. I’ve seen all sorts of restaurants, movie theaters–even other college campuses–though nothing in New Haven has been quite as overwhelming as this industrial giant that is slowly decaying before our eyes. The Winchester factory in New Haven was a manufacturer of ammunition and firearms that opened in 1920. When the company struggled to make the factory profitable, they shut down their Connecticut factory for good in 2006.

Building stationed in the center of the property where almost everything except the walls had fallen to the ground. photo courtesy of @ct.forgotten on Instagram
A hallway stretching through multiple rooms, the floor has collapsed and the roof is caving in. photo courtesy of @ct.forgotten on Instagram

In 2014, a small area of one of the buildings was renovated for an apartment complex. The abandoned section of the factory is tucked behind the newly renovated portion of the property and a few other buildings, making the complex seem a lot smaller than it actually is. Walking through this massive factory, you get a feeling that you entered a different world. You get into the 750,000-square-foot property by crawling through broken fences and rubble. After making it through those obstacles, you start to get an idea of how large the complex truly is.

A tree growing through the asphalt making a beautiful contrast between nature and the buildings. photo courtesy of @ct.forgotten on Instagram

The feeling I had while walking through here was peaceful, almost like a hike. It felt like an escape from the normal, fast-paced concrete environment of New Haven. The way that nature has slowly started to reclaim its land reminded me that the buildings never really belonged there in the first place. It was always nature’s land, we were just allowed to use it for a while.

Room with a chair, desk, and fan along with a broken window facing the other side of the complex. photo courtesy of @ct.forgotten on Instagram
Room used for manufacturing firearms on the top floor with a small pool of water collecting on the floor. Photo courtesy of @ct.forgotten on Instagram

As I found my way around the complex, I discovered all sorts of rooms that took my breath away (just like the room pictured above). I felt so lucky to be able to freely explore this historical landmark. At the same time, I had this overarching feeling of loss. It felt like no matter how cool it was for me in the moment, it was so sad to see a beautiful building with so much history left to wither away.

Room where both the floor and the roof have fallen in with only a few remaining features. photo courtesy of @ct.forgotten on Instagram

A good portion of the factory is completely irreparable. Most, if not all, of the areas constructed from  wood  have deteriorated and collapsed. This experience made me start to wonder what could be done to stop these buildings from falling into disrepair. Could we stop these buildings from being abandoned in the first place? The repurposing of this building gives me hope for other places just like it, as it shows that it’s possible to reuse these locations. Maybe it means companies will want to buy these buildings before they are destroyed. The development of land like this is so important. Not only do these places hold historical value, the architecture is still relevant today and can be used to build our communities instead of tearing them down.

You can see more abandoned places in Connecticut on Instagram, @ct.forgotten.

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