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We recently took a trip to abandoned Letchworth Village, once a model institution for the treatment of the mentally and physically disabled. Set in a bucolic landscape in the town of Haverstraw in Rockland County, Letchworth Village is not unlike parts of Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital on Long Island in terms of layout. Built in 1911, stone buildings are set amidst rolling hillside along curved streets with vintage-style lampposts, and you can easily sense the utopian idyll that governed the architecture and design of such an institution.

In fact, Letchworth was modeled after Monticello, the Virginia plantation of Thomas Jefferson and likely named after Letchworth in England, the first “Garden City” in the world and highly influential town planning model. Letchworth Village was originally encompassed 2,300 acres, whose patients worked on the land, like the Staten Island Farm Colony. It was a distinct attempt to provide better conditions, moving patients from high density high rise institutions to a country-side environment. But like many other similar locations, Letchworth developed a rather ignominious reputation for dubious experimentation and inconsistent care.

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It was here that children were used to test the polio vaccine, the first human trials in the world. In other experiments, as Abandoned NYC reports, 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.” Many of the people who died here were buried in a Potter’s Field, with no names to identify them, though later a monument was erected “To those that shall not be forgotten.”

Abandoned-Letchworth Village Psychiatric Hospital-Haverstraw-Thiells-Rockland County-NY-Untapped Cities-004A former dormitory for boys

Abandoned-Letchworth Village Psychiatric Hospital-Haverstraw-Thiells-Rockland County-NY-Untapped CitiesA former dormitory for boys

Abandoned-Letchworth Village Psychiatric Hospital-Haverstraw-Thiells-Rockland County-NY-Untapped Cities-002A former dormitory for boys

Letchworth Village closed in 1996. Today, the property is managed by the town of Haverstraw. A portion of the property closer to Stony Point, which housed the adult male population and the farm colony group, has already been converted into a Patriot Hills Golf Course and a Veterans Memorial Park. The majority of buildings, on both portions of the property still stand however, making exploration here particularly fun. Like Kings Park, which is now part of Nissesquogue State Park, visitors are welcome to walk into the property, provided you stay on the paved portions. Entrance inside the buildings, all of which are in a state of disrepair, is forbidden.

Letchworth Village Map-Thiells-NY-Rockland County-Abandoned Mental InstitutionMap via Abandoned NYC

You’ll discover the dormitory buildings, in a repeated architectural pattern, administration buildings, officers cottages, a former synagogue and more. Vines grow on and around the buildings and lampposts, but the town of Haverstraw keeps the roads clear. A local resident feeds and cares for cats who have made the buildings home.

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The interiors of the building have many pieces of furniture and hospital equipment left over, but have been heavily vandalized over time:

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The influence of Neoclassical architecture can be seen in the ionic columns, triangular pediments and portico elements:

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Vines grow over man-made elements, like the many lampposts that line the streets and former basketball courts:

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One of the fewer 1960s-era buildings on the property, a former synagogue:

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One of the hospital buildings:

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Abandoned-Letchworth Village Psychiatric Hospital-Haverstraw-Thiells-Rockland County-NY-Untapped Cities-017Rear of the hospital building

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Abandoned-Letchworth Village Psychiatric Hospital-Haverstraw-Thiells-Rockland County-NY-Untapped Cities-015Rear of the hospital building

A psychiatric book had been burned, and pieces were scattered:

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Abandoned-Letchworth Village Psychiatric Hospital-Haverstraw-Thiells-Rockland County-NY-Untapped Cities-021The Attendants Building

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Abandoned-Letchworth Village Psychiatric Hospital-Haverstraw-Thiells-Rockland County-NY-Untapped Cities-024Looking into an Administration Building

Abandoned-Letchworth Village Psychiatric Hospital-Haverstraw-Thiells-Rockland County-NY-Untapped Cities-026Administration Building on the officer’s cottage side of the property 

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There were plans to convert more of Letchworth Village to other uses, but they appear to be on hold at the moment. This is a great day exploratio,legally if you follow the rules, less than two hours from New York City.

Next, check out out 10 of NYC’s abandoned hospitals and asylums.

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