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Abandoned

Last Days of the Staten Island Farm Colony

Eerie ruins of the Staten Island Farm Colony

A ruined Farm Colony dormitory seen through the trees.

Part of what makes abandoned buildings so captivating is that their existence is ephemeral, they cannot remain decayed and crumbling forever, and inevitably that means saying goodbye.

Admittedly, the Staten Island Farm Colony is not one of the most spectacular places I’ve seen, (the interiors have been completely destroyed by vandalism) but it remains the one place I’ve come back to more than any other. What’s always impressed me about it is its changeability. The place is reborn with every season, and I suppose that’s true of all abandoned buildings, but I’m always struck by it at the Farm Colony. In the height of summer, its jungle-like atmosphere lends it the look of a fallen Aztec empire, which is almost unrecognizable in the cooler months. It’s haunting in the fall when the fog rolls in, and desolate in the winter when ice and snow blanket the buildings inside and out. Through 40 years of abandonment, the Farm Colony is as ever-changing as the natural world that engulfs it, but it’s looking more and more definite that this historic district will be undergoing a final, permanent transformation in the days ahead.

The Farm Colony’s existing structures.

New renderings for the “Landmark Colony,” with several buildings preserved.

Last month, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved a proposal to bring 350 units of senior housing to the site, part of a large new development called “The Landmark Colony.”  In the process, the institution is returning to its historic function as a home for the elderly after a four decade hiatus. (The place was essentially a geriatric hospital when it closed down in the 1970s, though it had been established in the mid 19th century as a refuge for the poor.)  With five buildings saved and one kept as a stabilized ruin, the design will preserve much of the area’s architectural character. The remaining structures will be demolished and replaced with modern residential units, which is to be expected considering just how far gone some of these buildings are.

Several of the places I’ve photographed in the last few years have been set aside for renovation (The Domino Sugar Refinery, the Gowanus Batcave, and P.S. 186 to name a few.)  The Smith Infirmary, the old Machpelah Cemetery office, and most troublingly, the Harlem Renaissance Ballroom have not been so lucky.  It’s rare and encouraging when a structure is fortunate enough to get a second chance in this rapidly evolving city, but as positive as these changes are for their communities, a part of me still feels like something is lost.  I know I’m not the only one who’ll miss the Farm Colony and its embattled ruins, which have become a popular spot for paintballers and Staten Island teenagers to pass the time.

Here’s a series of photos I’ve taken over the last year in sweltering heat, biting cold, snow, rain, and fog. Hopefully I make it back one last time before these ancient grounds are covered with fresh paint and brimming with active retirees year-round.

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The Laundry and Industrial building will be preserved…

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…As will the Dining Hall. These are the two largest open spaces in the Farm Colony.

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Daylight trickles into a dark room adjacent to the cafeteria.

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An arched walkway on a lower floor is a rare example of architectural ornament.

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The Farm Colony’s most picturesque building is sadly slated for demolition.

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But a similar dormitory on the south side of the grounds will be stabilized and preserved as a ruin.

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Snow piles up after winter storms, turning to ice when the temperature fluctuates.

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A wintry bathroom.

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This bed is one of the only remaining artifacts from the institution’s past.

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Trees silhouetted against the clouds, projected through a camera obscura on the ground floor of a residence hall.


 

 


Discussion

15 thoughts on “Last Days of the Staten Island Farm Colony

  1. Hi, Thank you again for more great information.. Can I post it on Facebook? Didn’t see it on your FB page. Thanks

    Like

    Posted by Linda | 12-1-14., 5:09 pm
  2. Thanks for sharing

    Like

    Posted by Ellen | 12-1-14., 5:20 pm
  3. Hey Will, once again your photos are breathtaking!! Thanks for braving the elements to capture these stunning images. I am a native Staten Islander (now in Boston) and I just love seeing any of your posts about SI. So much has been lost that is crucial to record what remains for however long they might remain.
    All the best.

    Like

    Posted by Frank Brennan | 12-1-14., 6:56 pm
  4. Will, Such a moving post. And an interesting continuation to the themes of your blog. I’m so glad you took us there before it disappears… What’s happening with the book?!

    >

    Like

    Posted by LouAnne Brickhouse | 12-1-14., 7:43 pm
  5. Thank you so much for the new post. Thank you for recording it before it vanished all together. Nice to find out they’re going to save some of it.

    Like

    Posted by Gwen Edgett | 12-2-14., 2:12 pm
  6. Hi guys, great site. Check out our free high definition aerial mapping for your next urbex mission.
    http://us.nearmap.com/
    Let me know if you have any questions.
    Diane.

    Like

    Posted by Diane Sexton | 12-8-14., 8:47 pm
  7. Are people still able to visit it?

    Like

    Posted by Sbrnaia | 3-30-16., 3:21 pm
  8. I was just out here in march of 2016 and it still looks the way it does in your pictures so I think the plans for restoration were either delayed or scrapped.

    Like

    Posted by Fate167 | 7-19-16., 7:35 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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Balanced Rock, Big Bend National Park.
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#nps #nationalparks #bigbend #bigbendnationalpark #texas #westtexas #findyourpark #nps101 #rei1440project Terlingua Ghost Town ruins. .
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#terlingua #terlinguaghosttown #ghosttown #texas #abandoned #thisistexas #westtexas #ruins #bigbendnationalpark Sunrise in Terlingua, TX.  This cemetery sits on the outskirts of the Terlingua Ghost Town, which boomed as a mercury mine before the end of WWII. 👻 .
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#ghosttown #ghost #abandoned #cemetery #graveyard #thisistexas #ruins #eerie #sunrise #terlingua #terlinguaghosttown #terlinguatx #bigbend #bigbendnationalpark Couldn’t stop at every roadside curiosity in West Texas, but I had to brake for the signage at Carmen’s Cafe. #texas #thisistexas #texasboy #marfa #marfatexas #abandoned Mini-mooning in Marfa... 🌒🍻🐎💍 Thanks to @6sqft for featuring my Staten Island project "Arthur Kill Road" on their Urban Lens series today. Head to the link in my bio to check out the interview.
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Pictured here: A foggy morning under the Verrazano Bridge at Fort Wadsworth.
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#arthurkillroad #nyc #statenisland #abandonednyc #somewheremagazine #explore #verrazanobridge #fortwadsworth #outerboroughs Another view of the Kreischer Street worker's houses through the seasons.
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#abandonednyc #abandoned #abandonedplaces #oldhouse #nyclandmarks #statenisland #outerboroughs #anotherplace #somewheremagazine #newyorkcity #seasons #timelapse #snow Kreischer Street, Staten Island.
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A row of landmarked workers' houses stand frozen in time on Kreischer Street, in view of the famous (and haunted) Kreischer Mansion in Charleston, SI. They were provided to employees of the Kreischer Brick Works, which operated on the waterfront here in the late 19th century.
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Check out the blog for more on the history of "Kreischerville." (link in profile)
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#arthurkillroad #arthurkill #nyc #outerboroughs #somewheremagazine  #picketfence #abandonednyc #oldhouses #oldhouse #oldhouselove #nylandmarks #nyclandmark (2/2) Enterprising beachcombers can still find colorful Atlantic tiles if they hunt long enough, but regular bricks are more common.  Strangely, their manufacturer's marks point to a wide range of origins, some from as far away as Texas and Missouri.
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(🔗 in profile for more views of NYC's "South Pole")
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#brickcollecting #brickhunting #beachcombing #tottenville #arthurkill #abandonednyc #abandonedplaces #statenisland #urbanexpliration #abandoned #nychistory #nyhistory (1/2) This unassuming patch of waterfront in Tottenville holds the remains of the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company, which made colorful architectural ornaments for many notable NYC buildings, including the Woolworth and the Flatiron.  The rubble was piled up on the edge of the Arthur Kill after the factory was demolished in the 1940s.
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(🔗 in profile for more views of NYC's "South Pole")
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#brickcollecting #brickhunting #beachcombing #tottenville #arthurkill #abandonednyc #abandonedplaces #statenisland #urbanexpliration #abandoned #nychistory #nyhistory A view of the Arthur Kill at dusk, with Outerbridge on the horizon.
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The name of the waterway is an anglicized version of the Dutch "achter kill" meaning back river or channel, referring to its position at the "back" of Staten Island.
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In an area rife with supposed hauntings, the Arthur Kill is itself a kind of ghost. The route was formed by an ancestral iteration of the Hudson River.
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Glacial activity altered the course to its current position but the vestigial strait remained, isolating a sneaker-shaped landmass. Staten Island was born.
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The Arthur Kill is home to several lesser-known "boat graveyards" in addition to the world-famous ship graveyard in Rossville.  This one sits off the Charleston waterfront.
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More photos and history on the blog (link in profile)
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#abandoned #abandonednyc #abandonedplaces #shipgraveyard #lostplaces #urbanexploration #urbex #outerboroughs #statenisland #silive #shipwreck #boatgraveyard #originstory #arthurkill #arthurkillroad #nycprimeshot #nyhistory #nyhistoricalsociety #nyc #newyork Outerbridge Crossing happens to be the outermost bridge in NYC, but it's named for Eugenius Outerbridge, first chairman of the Port of New York Authority, now the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "Outerbridge Bridge" wouldn't do, so they deemed it a crossing.
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See more in my latest post on the blog outlining the remote edges of Tottenville and Charleston, the "South Pole" of New York State. (Link in profile)
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