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For Sale: Abandoned Connecticut Village

Legend has it -- and auctioneers have exploited the notion -- that Johnsonville is haunted.

Online bidding begins on Tuesday for an entire village in Connecticut named Johnsonville, an abandoned village in the Moodus section of East Haddam.

In the 1870s, it was a thriving mill town, using the power of the Moodus River to make twine for fishing nets. In the 1960s, aerospace millionaire Raymond Scmitt purchased most of the property in town, including the last twine mill, and brought in Victorian homes, a chapel, and a steamboat, remaking Johnsonville into a Victorian era-themed tourist attraction. The quaint setting made Johnsonville a local mecca for wedding celebrations.

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Credit RM Bradley Co.
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The entire village of Johnsonville is on the auction block. Johnsonville is part of East Haddam.

A dispute with town officials in 1994 caused Schmitt to abruptly shut down the village. Schmitt died in 1998, and the land was purchased by developers who had hoped to build apartments on the site. A lack of sewers thwarted that plan.

A hotel developer then bought the 62-acre parcel, but later decided to sell the land.

For 20 years, Johnsonville has been abandoned.

The village has a general store, a chapel, a meeting house, a covered bridge, and several homes. "It survives today as a pretty good representation of a little mill village," said The Day columnist David Collins, who recently wrote an article about Johnsonville. Legend has it -- and auctioneers have exploited the notion -- that Johnsonville is haunted.

Johnsonville.jpg
RM Bradley Co.
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Collins said the little village is far from scary. "The buildings are all empty, but it looks pretty good. Obviously, some paint work [is needed] here and there, and some shutters are off here and there, but I wouldn't say it was a creepy Halloween feeling," he said. "In general, it looks pretty interesting, pretty good."

Bidding is taking place on the online auction site auction.com. In case you're wondering -- or perhaps you're in the market for an abandoned Victorian mill village -- bidding begins at $800,000, and continues through Thursday.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series “Where Art Thou?” Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of “Morning Edition”, and later of “All Things Considered.”

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