January 19 – Middletown 366


“Hartford, Jan. 18:–Crowded far past its capacity is the Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane at Middletown, and this condition is viewed with considerable alarm by Dr. Roy L. Leek, superintendent in his biennial report to the governor.

So crowded is the hospital, Dr. Leek pointed out, that it is necessary to mix the criminal insane with the civil insane, a condition which is fraught with grave consequences.” –From the Bridgeport Telegram, Jan. 19, 1923.


On this day in 1974, the Sawmill Brook Racetrack proposal went to the Planning and Zoning Commission of Middletown, what would become one of the most controversial local issues in Middletown history. Ronald H. Mooney of New York sought to build a $50 million horse race track on 480 acres of prime industrial land in the Westfield section of Middletown. The public hearing that began on March 13 brought heated emotions for and against the track, and would last over 17 hours in total. Eventually approved in April, Sawmill Brook would suffer from financial trouble from the start, and after years of fabrication and disappointment, Mooney eventually lost his option on the land, as well as his gaming license. The track died for good. A brief from the Middletown Press in 1978 reads: “Arab money, Los Angeles money. It is time for Ron Mooney to put up and show the State Gaming Commission he can build his $55 mil. race track and he can’t.”

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

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