Fall Foliage turns to Abandoned Mental Hospital

A few weeks ago David and I took a drive upstate to get out of the city for a bit. Partway along the Palisades Parkway the all-morning lack of coffee hit him. So, we took the next exit for surely there'd be a place for coffee. But we found ourselves driving along quiet small lanes, drives, and roads snaking between houses, occasional developments, fields, over streams and among trees. And not even a strip mall promising coffee.

As we finally turned back toward the Parkway, we came through woods into the middle of lovely, obviously abandoned stone buildings with neatly shorn and expansive lawns between them. We stopped, curious, and invited by a handicap ramp leading to a boarded door with shattered glass panels beside it. Slipping in was easy.

And into a whole different world.

The Former Letchworth Village Institute for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic

It really was a village - built in 1907 as a model for long-term housing for the feeble-minded and war widows. The buildings are sturdy, and dry even though abandoned since 1995. Wide lawns separated buildings, and a stream separated the male and female sides. Only part remains abandoned. The girl's campus is now a school, and some of the grounds have been turned to a golf course - but wander through the untouched ones...

We read patient records left in the attic. We explored dorms with beds still standing. We climbed in windows, and out broken doors, and up stairs. Reviewed blue prints, and read letters prepared for departing staff when the state closed the facility.

Everywhere we walked our feet crunched on peeled paint and other detritus of time, but the place smelled fresh and felt surprisingly dry. It was well made.

Head there - I recommend it. Exit 14 off of the Palisades Parkway. And read more about its history here http://www.opacity.us/site16_letchworth_village.htm

David took this photo of me in the old administration building.

David, just after we entered via the broken window.


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