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Abandoned, Cemeteries, Hospitals, Overgrown, Schools

Legend Tripping in Letchworth Village

Ruins of Letchworth Village.

Letchworth Village rests on a placid corner of rural Thiells, a hamlet west of Haverstraw set amid the gentle hills and vales of the surrounding Ramapos.  A short stretch of modest farmhouses separates this former home for the mentally disabled from the serene Harriman State Park, New York’s second largest.  Nature has been quick to reclaim its dominion over these unhallowed grounds, shrouding an unpleasant memory in a thick green veil.  Abandonment becomes this “village of secrets,” intended from its inception to be unseen, forgotten, and silent as the tomb.

Owing to its reputed paranormal eccentricities, Letchworth Village has become a well-known subject of local legend.  These strange tales had me spooked as I turned the corner onto Letchworth Village Road after a suspenseful two-hour drive from Brooklyn.  Rounding a declining bend, I caught my first glimpse of Letchworth’s sprawling decay—some vine-encumbered ruin made momentarily visible through a stand of oak.  Down the hazy horseshoe lanes of the boy’s ward, one by one, the ghosts came out.

This map gives a sense of scale.  Most of these buildings still stand, altered or abandoned.

By the end of 1911, the first phase of construction had completed on this 2,362 acre “state institution for the segregation of the epileptic and feeble-minded.”  With architecture modeled after Monticello, the picturesque community was lauded as a model institution for the treatment of the developmentally disabled, a humane alternative to high-rise asylums, having been founded on several guiding principles that were revolutionary at the time.

The Minnisceongo Creek cuts the grounds in two, delineating areas for the two sexes which were meant never to mingle.  Separate living and training facilities for children, able-bodied adults, and the infirm were not to exceed two stories or house over 70 inmates.  Until the 1960s, the able-bodied labored on communal farms, raising enough food and livestock to feed the entire population.

1933 photo of Letchworth Village’s Girl’s Group

Sinister by today’s standards, the “laboratory purpose” was another essential tenet of the Letchworth plan.  Unable to give or deny consent, many children became unwitting test subjects—in 1950, the institution gained notoriety as the site of one of the first human trials of a still-experimental polio vaccine.  Brain specimens were harvested from deceased residents and stored in jars of formaldehyde, put on display in the hospital lab.  This horrific practice has become a favorite anecdote of ghost-hunters and adolescent explorers.

The well-intentioned plans for Letchworth Village didn’t hold up in practice, and by 1942, the population had swelled to twice its intended occupancy.  From here, the severely underfunded facility fell into a lengthy decline.  Many of the residents, whose condition necessitated ample time and attention for feeding, became seriously ill or malnourished as a result of overcrowding.  At one point, over 500 patients slept on mattresses in hallways and dayrooms of the facility, meagerly attended by a completely overwhelmed staff tasked with the impossible.

Having discontinued the use of the majority of its structures, and relocated most of its charges into group homes, the institution closed down in 1996 as old methods of segregating the developmentally disabled were replaced with a trend toward normalization and inclusion into society.  The state has made efforts to sell the property, with mixed results.  Most of the dilapidated structures were slated for demolition in 2004 to make way for a 450-unit condo development, but the plan has evidently been put on hold.  Ringed with ballfields and parking lots, shiny Fieldstone Middle School makes use of nine buildings of the former girl’s group, an island of promise in a landscape of failure.

Off Call Hollow Road, a new sign has been erected pointing out the “Old Letchworth Village Cemetery.”  Down a seldom-traveled path, an unusual crop of T-shaped markers congregate on a dappled clearing.  They’re graves, but they bear no names.

Few wished to remember their “defective” relatives, or have their family names inscribed in such a dishonorable cemetery—many family secrets are buried among these 900 deceased.  Here, in the presence of so many human lives devalued, displaced, and forgotten, the sorrow of Letchworth Village is keenly felt.

As part of a movement taking place across the country, state agencies and advocates funded the installation of a permanent plaque inscribed with the names of these silent dead, and a fitting epitaph: “To Those Who Shall Not Be Forgotten.”

Letchworth Village

Each of the six groups of buildings included eight small dormitories.

Letchworth Village

The hospital, north of the boy’s group, is known as Letchworth Village’s most haunted building.

Evidence of last night’s joyride on the hospital lawn.

Letchworth Village Fire

A dayroom library fueled the flames of an arson attempt.

Letchworth Village

A small basement nook of unknown purpose, this was the only door of its kind.

Letchworth Village

A storage area in the basement of Letchworth Village.

Letchworth Village

An adjacent room was filled with hospital plasticware, some overflowed into this darkened hallway.

Letchworth Village

A renegade paintball game left a gruesome mark on this room.

Letchworth Village Morgue

Cold storage.  The first room I came across in Letchworth Village, a morbid introduction.

Letchworth Village

Moments after taking this photo, a group of young explorers entered through a side door.  I gave them quite a scare.

Letchworth Village

A dining hall is brought to light as its ceiling crumbles.

Letchworth Village

The top floor of Stewart Hall has been thoroughly razed, but the bottom remains mostly intact.

Letchworth Village

Fire damage visible on the lower floor.

A strange camera malfunction lasted the entire time I was in this building and stopped the moment I stepped out. It’s the closest I came to a paranormal experience.

Letchworth Village

Many of the cheaply made service buildings were in a similar state.

Even in broad daylight, the place is eerie.  Here, an ominous administration building.

Better late than never, a monument to Letchworth’s dead.


 

 


Discussion

98 thoughts on “Legend Tripping in Letchworth Village

  1. Stunning!

    Like

    Posted by ellis3000 | 8-6-12., 6:58 am
  2. Haunting photos! I especially liked the way you handled the subject with sensitivity and respect for the unfortunate souls who once called those buildings home.

    Like

    Posted by lovelymrse | 8-6-12., 10:30 pm
  3. AMAZING!

    Like

    Posted by Shaked | 8-9-12., 9:15 pm
  4. spooky images – my imagination is running wild!

    Like

    Posted by sarahryan85 | 8-31-12., 8:48 am
  5. Such beauty from such pain. This is by far my favorite story so far.

    Like

    Posted by Heather Marie Hellums | 10-18-12., 6:15 pm
  6. Really great write up i realy enjoyed the picture’s also🙂 It’s a tradgey to see this plave in such dismay😦 Thank you for sharing

    Like

    Posted by ed | 12-12-12., 1:32 am
  7. Thanks for your photos and the info. Went out this weekend. It was amazing ( and enormous). We were there for about 5 hours and did not even come close to seeing everything. Heading back out soon.

    Like

    Posted by Zoe | 1-21-13., 7:35 pm
    • This looks amazing. I am looking for places to photograph! Can anyone go out here? Is it fairly simple to find? Any help would be so appreciated!

      Thanks,
      jennifer

      Like

      Posted by jenny | 3-1-13., 10:23 am
      • The grounds of Letchworth Village are open to the public, but going inside the buildings is considered trespassing. It is fairly easy to find, look up Letchworth Village Road on google maps and you should be able to spot it.

        Liked by 1 person

        Posted by abandonednyc | 3-6-13., 1:00 pm
  8. It’s sad that the state of NY left Letchworth Village to rot like this. It’s a real disgrace! I remember working there back in 81 as a mental health medical administrative assistant. Letchwoth was kept nice then and there were a lot of good caring staff there too. My grandmother worked there for 35 years as a head nursing assistant and loved those patients like they were her own kids. My sister still works with some of the patients that were placed in half way housing later after the shut down of Letchworth village. She too is loving and caring for her girls as she calls them and takes them out to nice places and does everything she can for them. I know it wasn’t always like that there at Letchworth during other earlier times and there were reports of abusive staff, but there were a lot of good hearted people (Staff) there too who wanted to make a positive difference for the Letchworth residents. It’s a shame something more wasn’t done to preserve the site and used for other types of businesses. It would have been quite a useful site. I resent the place being portrayed as haunted and being shown all in ruin the way it is. I remember when it was thriving and when good caring healthcare staff took pride in their work there, trying to make a difference for the developmentally challenged. During the 80’s as I knew it back then there were good caring mental health staff whom worked at Letchworth Village and went out of their way to ensure proper care.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by AlisonTew | 5-29-13., 12:30 pm
    • Thanks for your comment, Alison, I totally understand your reaction. I don’t doubt that the staff were committed and cared deeply for the residents, even during the worst years. Although our methods of caring for the developmentally disabled have changed, the individuals who dedicated their lives to caring for them will always deserve our gratitude. These articles tend to focus on the negative, so I’m grateful for people like you who share memories of happier times.

      It is unfortunate that all of the buildings haven’t been repurposed, but most are structurally sound and renovation is still a possibility. What you don’t see pictured here are the portions of the property that have been reused, specifically Fieldstone Secondary School and about a dozen buildings north of Willow Grove Road.

      Like

      Posted by abandonednyc | 5-29-13., 1:46 pm
      • The many building and bridges, all built by hand, by master builders of their day!!! What a shame to see them look like this!!! The Great Grandfather of my two children, Ernest Babcock , worked there in the 20’s – 30’s, he planted the many beautiful trees that line the streets of Letchworth Village, his grandson Ernest M Babcock, my children’s father, worked there as a patient care specialist for many years. So many of the residents of this town either worked there themselves or family members worked there. The stories of mistreatment and abuse to the patients, in no way out number the wonderful memories that are still shared by the countless people of this wonderful community. These are the kind of things visitors should seek. If they would like to make sure the many lost souls are remembered, and their stories are told, Then seek out the aging members of the State of New York Employees who worked there and still are members of this quint little community!!

        Like

        Posted by Christine Sell Babcock-Swift | 9-19-14., 7:55 am
    • The state did not let Letchworth ‘rot’, the town of Haverstraw did. They bought this land years ago.

      Like

      Posted by dmack | 10-31-13., 6:57 am
    • Do you know where the second grave yard is? I’m trying to respect the dead. Did they stop burying the patients in 1967? Would your grandmother or you know?

      Like

      Posted by Kim | 11-18-13., 2:26 pm
      • the other graveyard is off call hallow road – on the left before the entrance to the resorvoires – just a little dirt road. it’s actually the back shortcut to cheesecoate – I used to work at Omega Cottage in the late 70’s as a MHTA. Lots of stories!!!

        Like

        Posted by mike | 6-11-15., 9:24 pm
      • There was one on THEILLS MOUNT IVY ROAD its now a soft ball field.

        Like

        Posted by susan gibbons | 11-29-15., 7:20 pm
      • My sister lived in Omega Cottage in the sixties . We would go up on weekends from Long Island to see her . I was in my pre teens … Jimmy …..

        Like

        Posted by Anonymous | 6-24-16., 10:17 pm
    • i played in the basketball clinic they had in the gym in the early 80’s. we met some of the residents who were always so nice and would cheer us on. That place defiantly was not always horrible and at the end of being open
      i think it helped a lot of people.

      Like

      Posted by fred | 9-17-14., 2:29 am
    • Hi i am looking for someone who was a resident back in 1944?

      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by Rose | 12-10-14., 5:33 pm
      • My father, Rudolph Porter was a ward of the state there until the age of 18 years old. He is long deceased but had a habit of often taking us to there as children, I was terrified of the place, probably still am!

        Like

        Posted by John porter | 3-28-15., 11:06 pm
    • Do you remember a Mrs Campbell that worked I believe in Cottage B or C?

      Like

      Posted by Ira | 9-15-15., 4:19 pm
      • Yes I remember Mrs Campbell, she was my brothers first person when he went there. Cottage “C”

        Like

        Posted by Ira | 7-5-16., 3:52 pm
    • I too worked @ Letchworth Developmental Center in the 80’s, for 10 years. The posting above is a good description of my feelings. I remember bringing my clients home to my mom’s for the holidays, & going on many day trips to Great Adventure, Yankee stadium, Sandy Hook NJ beaches. I also remember all the renovations that were made, only to have it close down a short time later! Talk about waste of NYS taxpayers money,….& this property STILL sits wasting! I visit once in a while & get good goosebumps.

      Like

      Posted by Patricia Conklin | 11-28-15., 7:46 am
    • Unfortunately, a few unsavory people have destroyed the reputation of Letchworth Village, and those who made the effort to enhance the lives of the residents, have been forgotten. It’s sad, as Letchworth will forever be remembered as a very negative place…..

      Like

      Posted by Carole Moser | 1-3-16., 10:10 am
    • I also worked back at lvdc and i also cared and loved the individuals that i worked for. It was like a family..i miss working there and so many employees that i still work with feel the same. Yes there were bad people that worked there but we didn]t hire those people thestate of ny did. And there are still people that shouldnt be working there. I resent that so many employees have given so much to protect them and still do. The man that gave this place to the individuals had agood heart. Back then there wasnt alot of knowledge on our individuals as there is today. that place could have been done over and made into a community for them. I have been working for the state for 37 years and i love my individuals the same today as the first day i started the job..LVDC was beautifully kept and i wouldnt trade my history working in LVDC for anything ihave a history that so many people dont even have a clue. I took care of my individuals the way i was hired to do. We took care of only them. Not like today everything is about money. You have not mentioned all the abandoned houses that the state bought and left them to rot on our tax dollars. My final word is God has a special place awaiting those that cared and loved our individuals. And an even greater place for the individuals themselves.

      Like

      Posted by Anonymous | 1-16-16., 5:45 pm
  9. It is actually Willow Grove Middle School. I grew up in Thiells & as a teen explored many of these buildings. I had 1 freaky experience trying to leave one time with my brother. There are many spots still in use in the area, including the soccer fields used by the nrsa.

    Like

    Posted by Valerie | 7-1-13., 11:08 pm
  10. thank you thank you thank you. that is all

    Like

    Posted by SIXP3NCE | 8-21-13., 8:33 pm
  11. I hope it’s ok with you if I post this link on my blog. You did a wonderful job!

    Like

    Posted by lsstuhler | 9-4-13., 9:39 pm
  12. I was so surprised and saddened to see the condition that Letchworth Village is in. My cousin, born in 1964 on Long Island, was diagnosed with PKU when she was about a year old. There was a doctor at Letchworth Village who was the only person who really knew how to treat and manage the disease at that time. So once a month my aunt and uncle made the trip to Letchworth with my cousin, for quite a number of years. My cousin never lived at Letchworth, but I do recall my aunt saying what a beautiful place it was, and how dedicated the staff were. I suppose even then there were things happening that she neither saw nor could have known about. What a tragedy all the way around.

    Like

    Posted by Dale Almond | 9-4-13., 11:49 pm
  13. Never again !

    Like

    Posted by Francis kimmes | 9-15-13., 5:02 pm
  14. Makes you wonder what kind of intellect would get their jollies out of painting all over everything.

    Like

    Posted by John Billings | 9-18-13., 3:40 pm
  15. I Have been there for the second day now, 3 hours each day but I did not either manage to see it all. Something I really wanted to see but could not find was the cold storage, in which house was that? Thanks for an amazing blog. I love the way how you describe the history and the photos! I am so glad I found your blog and managed to go there🙂
    Thanks alot, you have really inspired me for photographing abandoned places!

    /Hilla from Sweden

    ps. it seems like most of the labratorys are pretty locked up now we had to move a piece of wood and climb in through a half window..And the place is also patrolled by the Park Gard, even though they do not seem to care very much. They drive around in their cars and try to scare people of without leaving the car. The Industry on the other side of the main road, to the entrance with the church is also a amazing experience!

    Like

    Posted by hilla aspman | 9-24-13., 12:07 am
  16. I live 5mins from Letchworth Village My whole life.. I remember Driving thur as a child . My father when we were younger use to bring us there at night sometimes while the patients were walking the streets and tell us he will drop us off there if we were not good.. That place use to freak me out . Now I’m a lot older I drive thur everyday.. There are two schools with in the village Willow Grove Middle which is now Middle grove secondary school which don’t have any of the Building used from the old structure but it does have two buildings on the property and Field Stone secondary School which was open 2004 and it use to be for 8th and 9th graders ..Now its FieldStone Middle School which have 7th and 8th graders.. This Building uses 8 of the original buildings that help make up the school.. I know because I’ve worked there since the school has open and there are 4 more buildings on the school property .. They made the school into a beautiful place for use. But it can still be creepy at times up there.. I also have walked thur The Village many times but never enter any of the Buildings only as a child because both of my grandmothers has worked there and there were both good stories and bad about the place and what some of the staff would do to the patients. It is a place of History which a lot of unknown thinks has happen there.. Especially in the tunnels that run under the Village that connect to each building..

    Like

    Posted by M.L.W | 10-29-13., 9:36 am
  17. Where is there a good place to park? I plan on visiting tomorrow morning!

    Like

    Posted by Ron Johnson | 11-1-13., 10:27 pm
  18. i rember it well becouse i live there for 10 years from 1960 to 1970

    Like

    Posted by james | 11-16-13., 3:37 pm
  19. Would someone please carefully photograph the entire list of names so that they can be read? I suppose that would require two or three photos of each column. If you do so would you please post them on here? Thanks in advance.

    Like

    Posted by Suzannah | 12-12-13., 9:13 pm
    • I’m not sure how to post the photos on her of the monument. Can you send me an email and I can forward them to you? officialrejphoto@gmail.com

      Like

      Posted by Ron Johnson | 1-13-14., 7:03 pm
    • I have a photo of the monument that my husband took when we were there a few months ago. I went looking for my brother who lived at Letchworth from 1955-1965. They told my parents he would have a stone on his grave with his name and dates, etc.
      There are metal markers there at the old cemetery, the state lost my brother, who I’m still trying to place a grave stone somewhere at the old cemetery.
      If you want send me your email and Ill send you the photo of the monument. You can zoon in and read all the names.

      Like

      Posted by Resa | 4-23-15., 2:24 pm
    • if you are still interested in the names on the stone, please email me at rjkwallach@yahoo.com

      Like

      Posted by Resa Wallach | 6-26-16., 8:04 am
  20. I paintballed that building. And I’ve seen ghost.

    Like

    Posted by jay | 1-18-14., 1:29 pm
  21. I just watched an episode of Ghost Adventures, and this place really interested me!!! It’s weird reading all these positive comments of previous emplyees. They interviewed a lady who worked there in the 80’s, and she said the things that were done there were sick, and was why it was closed down. CBS did an interview in the early 90’s about the horrible things done there to patients??? Then in 96 it was closed down? Anyway, the episode I watched was super freakyyyyy!! In one of the scenes, they were “talking to a spirit” and they asked what happened in that specific room, and the only thing they could get out of their footage was a female sayong “attack” …. I’m skeptical about paranormal activity, but it was super interesting….. I’d looooove to visit this place sometime!!!!! I love things like this!

    Like

    Posted by Amanda | 1-25-14., 2:22 am
  22. While researching family history I found out that my aunt was a resident here in 1935 till ?? Haven’t found any info on her since she was a resident there. I don’t live any where near. Would someone be willing to photograph or list the names so that they could be read? Thanks

    Like

    Posted by Dee | 3-2-14., 10:01 pm
  23. How can I get permission to go in there and do some photography?

    Like

    Posted by fetzer | 4-11-14., 12:15 am
  24. I was there. Had a frightening experience. I was recording in a house which I assumed was an old nurses house. The basement was riddled with old records and asbestos everywhere. The scary part was after reviewing the tape I heard the words “get out of the house” on the tape. The strange thing was we didn’t hear it while recording, only after reviewing it. It still brings chills down my spine every time that I watch it. I mean how is that even possible? While we were leaving we heard “this is your last chance get out of the house now”. It sounded like the cops were outside with a megaphone. We were literally ten feet from the entrance and went outside right away to find that no one was even there. So fucking weird. That part I didn’t catch on tape but we all heard it.

    Like

    Posted by James | 4-24-14., 10:43 pm
  25. Like

    Posted by Myles Wren | 9-16-14., 8:07 pm
  26. My mother worked there 35 years she loved her clients dearly, it wasn’t all always horror and abuse as some would have us believe. Much of my childhood was spent roaming the grounds playing with her clients as well as my dad’s who worked there 14yrs as well! Back in the 80s nobody said anything if the employees brought kids to work!

    I later went to work for the sister site “rockland psych center” with similarly built buildings and the reasons that the towns nys has sold thes builds to both at the letchworth site & the rockland psych site have not been revitalized as originally planned by stony point, haverstraw & orangetown respectively is because ALL those buildings are insulated with asbestos! The asbestos abatement on the buildings at letchworth & rockland psych would cost each town MILLIONS of dollars as asbestos cleanup is extremely costly & the reason why land developers at BOTH sites backed out of major development deals at last minute!

    Like

    Posted by Jessica | 9-16-14., 10:38 pm
  27. Your story is well written and poignant. Having worked there for three decades I will tell you that I and others saw the most horrific neglect by some very sick individuals as well as the worst administrations. There were a small army of caring dedicated individuals who did the best they could inside the self serving system. The residents were at the mercy of everyone. Especially the most handicapped. If people ever really knew the truth it would sicken you. Someday I hope it comes out. You have made a good start.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Jane | 9-17-14., 8:19 am
  28. Really great article. I live right down the road from Letchworth and have taken my dog for walks around there. It’s so eerie, even in the day. A strange sense of nostalgia comes over you. My mother used to work there with the patients, and she has some really sweet memories with them. She does admit it was very disorganized and cramped. As far as those ghost stories go, the dramatic ghost-hunter ones on that T.V. show are lies. But I know of friends who have driven through Letchworth at night and come across a girl standing in the middle of road, blocking their way, but disappearing in a second. Might just be urban legend, but creepy nonetheless! Thanks again for the article.

    Like

    Posted by Josie | 9-17-14., 1:47 pm
  29. Back in the 60′ and 70’s it was beautiful. Geraldo Rivera came in in 1972 and did an expose (part of the Sunnybrook(?) expose). It made his career take off. After that there were sweeping changes throughout a lot of institutions in NY. My mom worked there for years and my friends and I all volunteered there with the activities my mother planned. She was a recreational therapist. I worked there from 1980 – 1983 and it was my favorite job. It’s really not as spooky as people have come to believe. It’s made up stories etc that give it the reputation it has.

    Like

    Posted by Nancy Schilling - Heindl | 9-18-14., 9:40 am
    • It was actually Willowbrook, (Staten Island) and led to the initiation of the Willowbrook Consent Decree. Until I saw the Ghost Adventures’ episode at Letchworth Village, I was not aware places like these existed as late as 1996.
      Sadly they did.

      Like

      Posted by Wendy | 9-22-14., 12:19 pm
    • I don’t believe for one minute these stories were made up. My brother lived there and my parents were told lies for years.
      Im sure there were very good people who worked there, however as the place got more crowded when the state kept sending people there without sending any more help, it became HELL.

      Like

      Posted by Resa | 4-23-15., 2:28 pm
    • Geraldo Rivera snuck into the basement of Tau cottage in 1977 and did a documentation on the condition s that the residents were living in. It was in conjunction with the Willowbrook expose another similar facility on long island. I cared for many unfortunate clients in this one infirm cottage in 1975-78. The state was exposed for the condition and maltreatment of residents and staff alike in many buildings on the grounds. There was a 5 year plan implementation where they downsized the population to more humane community group homes, and the Archdiocese of the NY foundling hospital took custody of several residents to open a special needs facility on the grounds of ST. Agathas home on convention rd. in Nanuet, NY. Others went into family Cate where people took residents into their homes to care for them. A lot were set up in community group homes and housing around Rockland counties. Others were sent to community homes where their families were from. The more critical needs residents went to special care facilities throughout NY. Definitely a NYS tradgedy from the early years after they stopped allowing the residents to farm the land and make a decend living. More staff was loving and caring but their resources were limited with the overcrowded condition and lack of basic resources to do their jobs.I spent from 1974-1979 working there in physical therapy and it will forever leave a mark on my heart for the mentally challenged. I often wonder what happened to several of my clients as I left there shortly after the birth of my first child. One place that stays in my mind was Stores hospital where most of the critical sickly children lived. They were given the best care possible. The State was at fault for NOT keeping better control over the care and management. All of the professional and direct care staff I knew did the best with what little they had.

      Like

      Posted by Anonymous | 11-11-15., 4:00 am
  30. I knew many people who worked there, and the stories of what used to go on there were terrible. The way many of the severe cases had been treated was disgusting and a horror in itself. The fact that there had been human beings put in cages to live like animals,this is very disturbing. They got worse over the years and did become so bad that there was no hope for them. Instead of this place being used for the good of the patients, it was used as a torture place for many of these poor people. Some of these people had not been treated really bad, because they were able to come and go and would have spoken up. What is a shame is the fact that families put their loved ones in here as little children and they grew up living here all of their lives. To them this was normal, because they did not know any better. I knew a lady that lived there from the time she was very young until it closed down. Her family placed her in there instead of getting rid of the family member that was the problem. It was sad that she grew up in a place like this. It was very sad for many a people who lived there all their lives. People will never know all of what went on there, because there had been staff members who worked there that didn’t even know what was going on. They had been very good at keeping secret the bad stuff that happened there for years to these poor people.

    Like

    Posted by Gina | 9-18-14., 1:01 pm
  31. why dont they build senior citizen apartments the elderly would love it there so peaceful
    and beautiful these building are just going to waste

    Like

    Posted by mayra ortega | 9-18-14., 5:24 pm
  32. I grew up in Stony Point, not far at all from Letchworth. In the 60s, when I lived there, the grounds were groomed and lovely. We would drive through the area every time we came and went on the Palisades Parkway. Some of the permanent residents worked in the local communities or shopped in the towns. It is also said that some residents, not developmentally disabled at all, were deposited there by parents. I knew one of those persons; he and a buddy worked at a restaurant in Stony Point where I worked as a teen. At one time there were plans to develop the area into a beautiful planned community. That fell by the way side for some reason, but here is the latest scoop on the region. http://www.rocklandtimes.com/2014/08/14/state-drops-surprising-news-haverstraw-in-talks-to-bring-legoland-theme-park-to-letchworth/

    Like

    Posted by Barbara Johansen Newman | 9-19-14., 3:14 pm
  33. I’d like to know what happened to all of the patients when it closed. The first article said “most” of the patients were moved to other facilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Jack Henderson | 1-5-15., 1:14 pm
  34. As a part of my cosmetology course we went to LV for a day to do haircuts and styles for the ladies. I went up to one of the rooms to style a young girl that was completely paralized. It seemed very depressing to me and I have never forgotten that girl. This was in 1965 and I was 16 yrs old.

    Like

    Posted by Anonymous | 10-19-15., 11:30 pm
  35. SUCH an amazing place! Please check out our latest photos from there!

    http://www.blackwhiteandraw.com/telling-the-stories-of-an-abandoned-mental-institution/

    Like

    Posted by Lori Foxworth | 4-4-16., 3:51 pm
  36. Got some beautiful photos from there a few weeks ago. NSFW. Contains artistic nudity Check out our blog at
    http://www.blackwhiteandraw.com/telling-the-stories-of-an-abandoned-mental-institution/

    Like

    Posted by Lori Foxworth | 4-4-16., 9:06 pm
  37. When I was finishing my BS in physical therapy in 1978, I did an externship at Storrs Hospital in LVDC. I LIVED on the campus and worked with developmentally handicapped children for several months. At that time, real efforts were being made to provide patients with the best of physical rehabilitation services using modern techniques and equipment.

    I am very sad to see current photographs – I can hardly believe it is the same place where I once lived, worked and learned. I’m afraid it’s easy for people to imagine that conditions at Letchworth were actually this horrific while it was in operation – please remember that the buildings have been abandoned and vandalized for twenty years!

    I wish someone had photographs or videos that document some of the work being done at LVDC during the LATTER half of the twentieth century; conditions did improve after the early 1900’s for heaven’s sake. It is disturbing that no history of the institution includes efforts made during its last decades of operation to provide up-to-date medical care; many serious professionals worked hard to give patients the very best they could.

    Like

    Posted by Laurie Sihvonen | 5-6-16., 5:17 pm
  38. When I was finishing my BS in physical therapy in 1978, I did an externship at Storrs Hospital in LVDC. I LIVED on the campus and worked with developmentally handicapped children for several months. At that time, real efforts were being made to provide patients with the best of physical rehabilitation services using modern techniques and equipment.

    I am very sad to see current photographs – I can hardly believe it is the same place where I once lived, worked and learned. I’m afraid it’s easy for people to imagine that conditions at Letchworth were actually this horrific while it was in operation – please remember that the buildings have been abandoned and vandalized for twenty years!

    I wish someone had photographs or videos that document the work being done at LVDC more recently than the early part of the last century… It is disturbing that no history of the institution includes efforts made during its last decades of operation to provide up-to-date medical care; many serious professionals worked hard to give patients the very best they could.

    Like

    Posted by Laurie Sihvonen | 5-6-16., 5:27 pm
  39. Great photos! My friend and I are planning on visiting this weekend and I can’t wait!

    Like

    Posted by Debbie | 5-17-16., 1:11 pm
  40. My father was a physician at Letchworth for his entire career, dedicated to the care of the mentally disabled. We lived near the grounds of the institution. A bus came every Sunday from NYC Port Authority with visitors, family of the patients, and my father was available to meet with them. He loved his job. My sister and I both worked in the clinical and research labs at the hospital.

    The information about brains being on display is absolutely incorrect. They were preserved carefully for research purposes. The pathologist there was deeply committed to finding out the causes of mental disability, and was, in fact, responsible for the development of a low phenylalanine diet to be fed to babies suffering from phenylketonuria. In this condition, babies are born with normal brains, but the inability to use phenylalanine renders them developmentally disabled over time. Infants are now tested for the disease shortly after birth and placed on the diet to prevent the disability.

    The care at Letchworth was not perfect of course, but political changes during the Rockefeller administration led to the closing of such institutions. However, before that, much of the work making the institution pretty much self sufficient was dismantled. My father cried when the farm animals were sold, because many of the patients, who’d spent their lives tending these animals, were devastated. Their purpose in life was destroyed. Most were doomed to spend the remainder of their time at Letchworth watching TV and receiving mood enhancing medication because apparently people, even disabled people, who contribute to their lives are considered insulated! Many of the patients had known this as home their entire lives.

    The grounds were kept beautifully, by the patients, with supervision. The farm was tended by patients. My father recalled how one young man regaled his mother with stories about how he’d been picking tomatoes and how many baskets he’d filled. The livestock were tended by patients, taught patiently over time. The buildings were beautiful and maintained well.

    At Christmas time, my father took us to the cottages to say Merry Christmas to his patients. Christmas was a big deal, and the teachers in the school (yes, there was school–my mother was a 4th grade teacher there) put on a Christmas play every year. The teachers wrote the play, composed the music, designed the costumes and sets and taught words and music to the school students. It was spectacular.

    There were movies shown every week. Patients lived in cottages, and would walk to the school auditorium close by to the movies. We, as staff kids, could also attend.

    A patient worked in our house at one time who was actually not retarded but was placed at Letchworth because there was no other place for her to go in the 1940’s. Her mother had syphilis, and she was born with a hole in her nose just beneath her eyes. My father and the dentist there (yes, they got dental care, wonderful dental care in the dental clinic) created a small prosthesis, which covered the hole, was held on with eyeglasses, and was matched to the color or her skin. This allowed her to be appear less abnormal, allowed her to talk more normally, and ultimately to be discharged from Letchworth. She ended up working for the Salvation Army in NJ. Every year for the rest of her life we got a Christmas care from her, and she frequently sent my sister and I presents, grateful to my father for her new life.

    So don’t bad mouth Letchworth to perpetuate stories about a place you know nothing about. I noticed others commented about having worked there or being children of employees. We know what an impact Letchworth made on this rural area of Rockland County. It is a sad story for all who knew the place.

    Like

    Posted by Jane Watts Freeman | 5-23-16., 10:47 am
    • I think some people like yourself have good memories from there, others like my parents have horror stories, you must admit after the state kept sending people there and no one to care for them, it was impossible for anyone there not to be neglected.

      As far as the Rockefeller administration closing the place down, I think there was much more to it then just that.
      They did not take care of anyone at that point and the staff too was being abused.
      I think the way Letchworth started was all good, but after the state kept sending more and more people there without any more staff it became impossible to take care of these individuals.
      My brother is buried there. He never had a shot in life and was never taken care of, never…. MY parents were told each time they came, it will get better and you must leave him here.
      My mother suffered terribly all her life because she was told to leave him there, it was for his own good.

      Like

      Posted by Resa Wallach | 5-23-16., 3:43 pm
  41. My mother had a sister Catherine Bernice Allen who was on the census of Letchworth village in 1940. I am looking for any info of were she went or did she die there. Her mother but her there because she was a wild teenage. o my.
    Any in would be helpful her DOB is 1922

    Like

    Posted by Peggy Birdsall | 9-26-16., 3:35 pm

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