The Saratoga County Homestead sits idly on a hill in the tranquil yet remote hamlet of Barkersville, New York, some fifteen miles outside of Saratoga Springs. The Homestead, once a valiant hospital of its time, now resembles something out of an Edgar Allan Poe work of horror. Motorists on County Highway 16 slow down to admire its four, regal-like columns on the road-facing facade. Decades of vandalism and decay give the building an ominous aura.

Abandoned in 1973, the Homestead served several purposes during its short period of operation, most notably as a tuberculosis hospital serving Saratoga County. While its history is short and seemingly less grandiose compared to New York City’s Neponsit Beach and Seaview Hospitals of the time, the Homestead served patients throughout the tuberculosis crisis which plagued much of New York during the first half of the century. Its history is remembered as thus.

Main stairwell, Saratoga County Homestead, 2020

See more photos of the Saratoga Homestead and other abandoned sites of New York’s Capital Region in our upcoming virtual talk on March 13th with photographer John Lazzaro, creator of A Vanishing New York: Ruins Across the Empire State! This live, virtual talk is free for Untapped New York Insiders. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today with promo code JOINUS and get your first month free!

In 1909, New York State legislature mandated that every county open sanatoriums and hospitals to deal with the ongoing tuberculosis crisis which had reached near epidemic proportions by the end of the 19th century. The Homestead Sanatorium served as a refuge from consumption for the people of Saratoga County when it opened in Barkersville in 1914. The property was described as a “secluded, well-wooded area with sweet and wholesome air.” In the beginning, the sanatorium could accommodate and treat twenty-four patients. As the cases of tuberculosis in New York State increased, the Homestead would undergo a massive expansion in 1936. Its wooden structure was replaced by brick, embellished with decorative moldings, marble columns, large windows, and solariums to circulate the fresh Adirondack mountain air that was thought essential to the treatment process.

A Vanishing NY Photo Talk: The Capital Region

Abandoned church

Patients under the care of the Homestead had a strict regimen of rest. Exercise was closely monitored. Dancing as well as alcohol, cigarettes, and foul language were prohibited according to the sanatorium’s handbook. To reduce the risk of infection, patients were not allowed to carry handkerchiefs. Instead, patients carried a sputum box that collected phlegm which in turn was collected by doctors to test for tuberculosis. Child patients attended school at the Homestead and often attended class shirtless so that the fresh air could better penetrate their lungs.

Graffiti on a wall in an abandoned room
Theater, Saratoga County Homestead, 2020

By 1960, the development of antibiotics such as streptomycin led to the phasing out of sanatoriums across the country. Neponsit Beach Hospital in Queens had already closed and was in the process of reopening as a nursing home. Staten Island‘s Seaview Hospital which was instrumental in finding the cure for TB closed in 1961. The last patients of Saratoga County Homestead left in August of 1960. The building became Saratoga County Infirmary the next year. The facility would treat geriatric patients until 1973 when it closed for good.

Typical Ward
Male patient ward, Saratoga County Homestead, 2020

A new owner purchased Saratoga County Homestead in 2019, more than 45 years after it closed and vandals nearly decimated it. The owner stated in a 2019 Facebook post that he planned to convert the ruins into a retreat for veterans. For now, visitors can explore the property on a paranormal tour in the spring and fall. They sell out fast! Untapped New York has reached out to the property owner for a comment on the current plans for the property. A hospital that once served as a cure for so many, may eventually receive a remedy of its own.

John Lazzaro is a Long Island-based photographer specializing in New York’s vanishing architecture. His wider range of work can be viewed on his website: Hear from John and see more photography and outtakes from A Vanishing New York in our upcoming virtual talk!

A Vanishing NY Photo Talk: The Capital Region

Abandoned church

Next, check out The Abandoned Kings Park Psychiatric Center: A Visual Journey After Deinstitutionalization and Exploring the Abandoned Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital in New York

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated in February 2024.