Scouting An Abandoned Mental Asylum: A Visit To The Rockland Psychiatric Center, Part 1

I gotta admit, when I see a pair of worn iron gates…

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…what looks like an abandoned property in the distance…

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…and the side entrance slightly ajar…

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…ancient, rusted-over NO TRESPASSING signs might as well say ENTER HERE.

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What I didn’t realize is that these gates surround a massive, 600 acre insane asylum from the 1920′s – and nearly all of it abandoned.

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This is the Rockland County Psychiatric Center, built in 1927, and “sprawling” does not do it justice. Here’s the facility in its heyday, and yes, that’s its own power plant in the distance:

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At its peak year in 1959, Rockland Psychiatric had 9,000 residents and a staff of 2,000. Today, most of the facility is empty, left to decay as roots and vines slowly overtake it.

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Rockland Psych is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited in New York, if for no better reason than it set my imagination firing like crazy.

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Though the buildings may be boarded up, the place is heavy with history, and you can feel it in the air.

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Visiting Rockland Psych is also like taking a trip back in time, as so wonderfully little has changed. Even little details, like these awesome street lights…

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…made me feel I should be driving an old jalopy to pick up my buddy Norman Bates from his weekly session.

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Very few places I’ve been to have offered such an all-encompassing out-of-time experience as simply driving down this long, snow-covered road past boarded up buildings:

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(huge pan – click for larger sizes!)

I couldn’t stop thinking of questions: how many thousands of patients had passed through Rockland Psych during its operation?

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How many had been subjected to primitive, often barbaric treatments like electroshock and lobotomization, both of which were employed at Rockland as “state-of-the-art”?

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And man did it set the mood when I climbed up on this heavily gated porch and peered through a window into a shadowy room…

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…and saw this on a chalk board:

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Please don’t think I’m giving this property a hard time – the architecture is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s only the disrepair and neglect that gives it that haunting feeling. And enjoy it while you can…

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It seems that Orangeburg has basically agreed to tear a massive amount of it down in favor of senior citizen condos…

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…as seen in this lovely picture below, which I’m sure absolutely mimics the reality of the project (does anyone else get the feeling The Smurfs are about to walk into the frame?):

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I’m not going to get into what a loss this would be in terms of both history and craftsmanship. I get way too passionate about these things when it seems like so few care – hell, I couldn’t even find a mention of the demolition on the Rockland County Historical Society website (though if I missed it, please point me in the right direction).

Instead, I’ll just take you on a tour of what I had the pleasure of seeing.

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(huge pan – click for larger sizes!)

The Rockland complex literally has secrets at every corner waiting to be discovered…

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Not only is this window-lined hallway fascinating in itself…

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…Later, while processing the pictures in Photoshop, I noticed something amazing: hidden in the shadows along the upper walls are these hand-painted scenes from NY history:

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Another, showing Henry Hudson’s Half Moon ship:

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More windows, and a forgotten pirate hat:

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Many of the ends of buildings have little pavilions. Seems pleasant, until you notice the heavy bars preventing escape (note the little trap door for deliveries on the right):

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More barred windows. You weren’t going anywhere…

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A forgotten table:

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Judging by the wall art, I’m guessing this was a school at one point:

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Not many remain, but I love the gold and brown carved signs around the complex, which remind me of the National Parks motif:

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As you can see in these satellite pictures, the buildings are all constructed in very interesting patterns…

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Another:

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Many of the buildings in the north-east corner meet in a cross, which seems to me like a ton of space for hallways:

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But space was clearly a luxury here, and the windows must have really opened the place up, especially for patients who weren’t allowed out much:

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A door that hasn’t been opened in some time, judging by the trees that have grown in front of it:

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As you make your way to complex’s center, the buildings feel more austere, as if this is where the real treatment took place:

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Many of the buildings have beautiful terra cotta entrances…

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…which I’m sure the town is going to recycle when they tear this all down:

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Inside, lots of chipped paint. I love the enormous wooden glassed door:

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Another room, with chipped paint in the way that Hollywood loves to fake in all of its run down asylums. Note the plaid curtains on the rear window:

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Another building:

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Love this fire escape…

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…Especially when you get up close:

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I suppose it was a better sign if you were put in this ward…

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…as opposed to this one:

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I thought this was incredibly cool too: this building (which feels like a dorm to me) is U-shaped, and if you look into the middle…

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…you’ll see  what has to be one of the coolest parking spots in New York, lined on both sides with 30 foot trees:

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Another beautiful building:

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The stairway:

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Nearby is the classroom with the “I’m Scared” chalkboard…

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I love the whimsical eyeglasses-wearing mouse…

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…and these other animals…

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…which include probably the most psychotic looking bear I’ve ever seen (those rabbits are a little creepy too).

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Haha, that bear makes me laugh every time I see it. Look at it again! Hee hee…

Another arched building nearby…

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…has an awesome pair of doors (“yes, we’d like the triangle wedge design, please”):

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Inside, more ruins (though the wood-paneling looks like it was purchased yesterday!):

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Does someone out there knows what this device does (I’m guessing sterilization)?

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A pool table:

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Think you’re done? No one gets out of Rockland Psychiatric that fast! CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF THE TOUR!

Also, if you grew up in the area, I’d love to know any legends you used to hear about the place as a kid!

-SCOUT

PS: More Rockland Psychiatric Center history here!

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252 comments

  1. The fridge is from the orangeburg fire co. Rockland psychiatric center allows the ofd to store the pool table and the fridge in building 13. The fridge was used for beer.

  2. i worked at rpc from 1957 to 1980…i worked in bld.19…butcher shop….store house….male reception…rockland was a city all by it self….i knew dr stanley…dr walker…dr fehler…dr rifa…dr dehsi….dr macdonaha(dentist)….ken troup(store house)…ken gokey….dick bauer(butcher)…don place….undy blaisdale…doug wherly…cliff helsel….andy tachash….tom dunmire….gene(bakery)….john conlin…dick marceue….norman barnes….loraine schmader(nurse)…. frenchy & max (who helped out on the food truck)….john(worked in library)….if anyone remembers me they can e-mail me

    • Hello, my name is Donald Sims and my mother Geraldine Sims and my father Donald worked there in the late 60′s to the mid 80′s. My mother passed some years ago; never knew my father but I’m trying to locate him but didn’t know his last name…was doing research for a book I’m writing when coming across this fascinating site…memories. Say, I know it’s like asking someone if he or she knows a Michael from NYC…but figured- take a shot and ask; perhaps, if you knew either one of them in hopes of me locating my father? I’d really appreciate any help at all if not I truly understand. Thank you for your time and consideration.

      Donald Fitzgerald Sims

    • my grandfather Nunzio Lotito/Nunziato Lotito
      was a patient at the harlem psychiatic hospital. the last letter i have is dated 3/26/1969. any information on my grandfather would be very much appreciated..

      seasalt1958@gmail.com

    • I saw your post while searching for information concerning Rockland
      State Hospital. Your work years coincide with my Grandmother’s sister’s stay at the facility. Her name was Mary Bonifer. I remember visiting there once as a small child but do not recall any details except the memory of a blue door with a small wired glass that my Grandmother entered through to visit her sister. She went into the facility because she lost her mind at the abusive hand of a cruel husband. According to family lore, she would wander around aimlessly on the streets of The Bronx before she was committed. Do you have any memories of her?

      Best wishes.
      Tom Padden

    • By any chance do you remember an inmate named Elizabeth Egan . She was born in 1922 and I think was admitted around 1240 so she would have been around 35 when you started working there. I think she remained there her entire life. She was my mother’s mother but I never met her.
      My email address is doncantillo@doncantillo.com.

    • I was institutionalized at Rockland County Mental Institution (as I knew it) when I was 8 years old (1965-69 or 69)- I was there for about 3 1/2 years. If I remember correctly I lived on childrens ward 5 ? It was build around a central circle with hall shootinf off in 4 direcytions if I remember correctly. I lived ijn a big dormatory 50 + children – we were lined uo at shower time and lined up to go to cafateria – I remember spending most of the day in a “day room” – most of the other kids were severely disturbed / mentally retarded. If i didn’t do as tolod they would put me in an isolation room (all day). Once they tied me to a bed with wet sheets layored with ice and opened the window in winter. There was an outside play area where one of the “minders” would hit kids with a wiffle ball bat. AT meals I was forced to eat and finish everything on my plate even till I puked. It was HELL ! What do you know that I cant remenmber ? I think I have repressed a lot of memories.

      • Reading your story just gave me a shrewd awakening . I was in Rockland State Hospital in the mid 19 sixtiesI started off in the children’s ward and I made it up into the teens ward ..pictures of the bowling shoes I remember going bowling there. I didn’t know the bowling alley was on the premises I remember going to dances so now that I know the dances was on the premises i also was tied down in straight jackets in straight sheets when I did. obey their orders. Your orders when your heavy medicated you don’t tend to really care about anything I also remember I young lady named Connie dying. I remember everybody said I hope she die I hope she die and I was saying no I let her live but she died that always stuck with me yes I have some stories to tell about Rockland State Hospital I got some gory stories and I got some very sad sad stories. Fasthandevacuation@yahoo.com

      • Nyack H.S. Class of ’71?

      • Mr.Bell should write some more about this experience. The paragraph is very eloquent and powerful. It has the makings of a best seller. You have a lot to say… and you say it very well.

      • I was there in there in the 60′s in the children ward, I still have niightmares what was done to me then

    • My Grandmother was there in the 1930s-1940s Clara L0gan if anyone remembers her as a patient.
      From the very little we know they refused her to have visitors when my father tried to see her.
      She remained institutionalized until she died at Kings Park Psych in Brooklyn.
      Rockland State breaks people, it’s very sad.
      Case levels vary by individuals (you may have a schitzophrenic yelling out the final answers to jeopardy in between talking to voices) yet for some it was despair and the end of the line.
      If you didn’t conform to what they wanted, you’d never get out. (Unless they were doing patient dumps do to overcrowding and less funding).

    • Dr. Walker was a dentist wasn’t he? My mother would take me to see him if I had a toothache. That’s the only time we ever went to the dentist in those days. Anyway, I would kick and scream every time I went to see him bc it was so scary looking to me as a child. One time I bit his finger when he went to work in my mouth and I never went back. Crazy times.

    • My dad worked there from late 40′s to retirement 1980. Does anyone remember Richard Cornish?

  3. great photos, I grew up in the development just behind Rockland State – it had a golf course for the doctors, the bus to the mall would stop their and we would see patients, this was the late seventies, all on massive drugs, there was a famous murder in 1957 from one of the patients who had escaped, I believe the murder happened on Dutch Hollow Road, we lived their from 1965 until I left for college, my parents still live their, in the 70′s it became know for having a rehab, but many of the people who were working their were also dealing drugs there – there was a gas station, candy store, deli just across the street from one of the entrances and we used to stop their as kids for candy, some of the staff looked as crazy as the patients – beautiful buildings – it was well know the Bill Wilson who started AA went to Rockland State looking for alcoholics to join his program of AA – there was he phrase “stop acting crazy or I’ll send you to Rockland State” – I often thought the town should renovate it and make apartments, not tear it down and build ugly buildings which is what usually happens, they were discussing make senior housing, but it’s never happened, could be beautiful and create a new history – when we first moved their my dad said the patients would work in the fields, growing their own food, they had fields of corn, then they were forced to just give them drugs, and they stopped growing their own food, very sad – it would be a great location to make a movie, it could be any where in the world, and it’s own world onto itself – 600 acres is a lot – I wish they would renovate, but the cost would be outragous

    • I lived in that house on Dutch Hollow Dr. after the woman was murdered. In 1960, I was 2 years old and moved there. Growing up I did not know what happened until I got older. I am 55 years old now and have great memories of living in Orangeburg and graduated Tappan Zee High School in 76. I remember taking the bus to the mall and stopping in the hospital. Does anyone else remember the murder?

      • i was in tz too in 75 … i Remember the bus going to the mall . they had there owe police station, and Fire Department.I walkthrough at night to get to my friends house , cops would stop me all the time

      • Barbara, yes, I do remember the murder. I was 4 or 5 at the time and was aware that something had happened that frightened my parents and that they didn’t want me to know about. We began locking the doors to the house then. I only got the full story when I was older. We lived on Cypress Lane.

        Ed

  4. great photos, I grew up in the development just behind Rockland State – it had a golf course for the doctors, the bus to the mall would stop their and we would see patients, this was the late seventies, all on massive drugs, there was a famous murder in 1957 from one of the patients who had escaped, I believe the murder happened on Dutch Hollow Road, we lived their from 1965 until I left for college, my parents still live their, in the 70′s it became know for having a rehab, but many of the people who were working their were also dealing drugs there – there was a gas station, candy store, deli just across the street from one of the entrances and we used to stop their as kids for candy, some of the staff looked as crazy as the patients – beautiful buildings – it was well know the Bill Wilson who started AA went to Rockland State looking for alcoholics to join his program of AA – there was he phrase “stop acting crazy or I’ll send you to Rockland State” – I often thought the town should renovate it and make apartments, not tear it down and build ugly buildings which is what usually happens, they were discussing make senior housing, but it’s never happened, could be beautiful and create a new history – when we first moved their my dad said the patients would work in the fields, growing their own food, they had fields of corn, then they were forced to just give them drugs, and they stopped growing their own food, very sad – it would be a great location to make a movie, it could be any where in the world, and it’s own world onto itself – 600 acres is a lot – I wish they would renovate, but the cost would be outrageous

  5. David (Tank) Henderson

    I could tell you plenty about the hospital because I spent from 1960 to 1970 in that place.If you got to know me you would not believe it but it’s true that I was a patient.I remember just about every building you have of that hospital. The childrens unit, Building 35, Building 36,the Adolescent Female unit, and the administration Building – just about all the others as well.What is very impressive to me, is the areal overhead shots of the children’s unit with all its 6 cottages as they were called. the paintings you took pictures, as I could remember,were part of a mural that lined the upper walls in the childrens unit.There were a lot of children as myself who didn’t belong there.At one time,it was just a dumping ground for the State with children they couldn’t figure out what to do with.In spit of it all,I was able to transend far beyond anyones expectations including mine.Sometimes I wonder how many of us have survived after leaving Rockland.Not all my rememberies were bad, a matter of fact, I had some very good rememberies of the place.I guess no one wants to admit that they’ve been in such a place is probably the reason so few answer, and if they really had reasons to be there, you are surely not going to get any response.The rememberies I have of rockland are what movies are made of. One day, when I have retired, maybe I will finish writing the Book I started about the place which I called The Nut Colony.

    • Congratulations! I would really love to hear about how you survived as I have a relative in another facility that is having a very hard time. Any advice for others based on your experience ?

    • I was there and didn’t belong in that place. But it was a safe haven for me and many like me. There was good time as well as bad time. I remmber a young lady on our ward that died there . I also remmber meeting the love of my life there. To bad I did’nt know that until I chase Him off. But in life there is up’s and down. You have to take the hand that you are dealt and make the best of it. I was there in the 1960s. It was a part of my life I will always remmber .And that makes me greatful to be who I am. Everyone that was sent to rockland state hospital was not crazy . I think we were kids Tyring to find our way , But it was not the way society think we should be. mentally sound but difference. Yes I can tell you some story about that place . and I am sure that I probably know Mr David Henderson Known Has Tank.

    • Jessica Richardson

      Im really interested in learning about this asylum. I would really love if you could e-mail me and tell me more about it. My e-mail is jessicarichardson1998@yahoo.com. If you could email me that would be awesome! I just love learning about this stuff and would like to visit a couple asylums sometime soon!

  6. Does anyone know how to go about obtaining records from the 1950′s from here? thanks

    • @Judy B–I’m also interested in obtaining records. I am an amateur genealogist and someone in my family was apparently there in 1940, according to the 1940 census. I can’t find him in 1920 or 30, although he was born in 1909, leading me to believe he was in another institution.

    • Did you ever obtain those records? Patient or employee? My Father used to work there in the 40′s – 50′s!

  7. Anthony DeTullio

    My mother was a patien here in the early 1950′s. Is there any way I can possibly get any records or information about her? Thank you.

    • Frances Saxenberg, LCSW

      Hi Kjerstin,

      I was a Clinical Social Work Intern at Rockland Psychiatric Center from 1983 through 1985. I was a volunteer at first in the Women’s Unit (long term illness-severe) and then for one year in the Deafness Unit (long term residents abandoned by their families.)

      I would be very happy to share my experience with you. Contact me anytime.

      Best Regards

    • If you find out how to get records please let me know, i’m looking for ones on my grandmother Clara who was there around 30s-50s? period as a patient.

  8. I grew up down the road from Rockland Psych and I work at the Orangetown Historical Museum in Orangeburg. The murals in the Children’s wing are in fact WPA murals from the depression era. They’re gorgeous and need to be documented. At the museum, we currently have an enlarged picture of part of one of the murals on display and it is one of my favorite pieces in our collection. We plan to go back into the old Children’s wing to document more of the murals. Also, just to note, although a lot of the complex is abandoned, Rockland Psych is still a functioning facility. There is a lot of research done there, family counseling, mental health assessments, etc. Its all on their website. http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/facilities/rppc/facility.htm

    • Hello HC,
      I am wondering if you need any help documenting the murals? I am a photography/filmmaking graduate student and am deeply invested in telling stories about mental health – I would love to help!
      my email is: kjerstin.rossi@gmail.com
      Best,
      Kjerstin

  9. ………The first AA meeting ever at an institution was held on the grounds of Rockland State Hospital in early December 1939. A NY State Historic Society landmark sign refers to this first meeting where AA’s co-founder Bill W. Spoke. When the new multi-story Psychiatric Center opened in the late 90′s they closed a lot of buildings including the Mens’ AAU….—AAU stands for Alcoholic Abuse Unit. That landmark sign was moved from the abandoned AAU and stationed near the new facility.

  10. Scout, this place is fascinating. How did you get in? Any potential to rent out for a shoot?

  11. scout,great photos..Rockland Psyche is still quite active..the one, newer tall building houses the psyche center, with two floors of it as Blaisdell ATC (addictions treatment center) my family member works there. also they have just completed a new children’s hospital on the site

  12. I worked at RPC from 1970-1991 as a psychologist, in many of those buildings. These pictures in their starkness made more so by the winter brought back such painful memories. I rescued a patient who had just hanged herself in one of those windows, and a year later I discovered (too late) that same patient in the act of strangling to death another patient. During the years I worked there, an employee, working alone at night in a building for more functional patients, was stabbed to death by one of her patients. Too many patients were beyond my capacity to help, but I found gratification in helping those who under more fortunate circumstances would have been dear friends. BTW, I believe the “stable” was the firehouse, and I believe the “bus station” really was. I believe the playpen was in the room used for daycare for the employees’ children. And I do remember that cool parking spot.

    • Arlene –
      I am very interested in collecting oral histories of people who interacted with the mental health system. I know that there are books and films made about this topic but I think that people’s individual stories are vital in all their complexity and specificity. I would love to hear about Rockland from a psychologist’s point of view, especially one who was there. Do let me know if you could make the time to speak with me: kjerstin.rossi@gmail.coma
      Best,
      Kjerstin

  13. This place was right out of Cuckoos Nest. I did my nursing psych rotation here in the 80′s. There was a metal door locked behind you every where you went. I was in a ward with men who had been institutionalized for many years. One guy was in his 40′s at the time and had been there since he was a teenager. He started a fire, killed his family. Most of the men seemed to wander in circles…had few teeth due to the psych meds (which makes your mouth very dry). I don’t know if people actually got better there or not. I think there truly are people who cannot be helped and stay at places like this forever. Then there are places like California (where I live no) and no place for anyone to go, and they’re homeless. I think times have changed and the Cuckoos Nest’s of the ’50s and 60′s are gone. But there remains a need for long term care for those suffering.

  14. My maternal grandmother was a patient there for about 10 years from late 1920″s/early 1930′s. Is there any way to get the records?

  15. Well done.I was born here.My mom was a patient.They had a delivery room and the classroom is for children of patients.The kids would stay or visit parents.I was 9 months pregnant and randomly drove up to the iron gates and got chills.I drove away and found out 4 years later I was born and baptized on the grounds.I went to mass on the grounds<beautiful church and the 86 year old retired priest that baptized me was saying mass.A delivery nurse from the year I was born was also at the same mass.They both spoke to me and shared some interesting history with me.I drove around the grounds and these images are perfect my baby album (hee). PEACE well done.

  16. Anyone interested in records can call the Rockland State Psych hospital<ask for the records department<they r very helpful.I requested info from the 1960's and received and received my own birth certificate,and the church had my baptismal certificate.I drove on the grounds and asked a security guard for directions,I asked him if babies were ever born here.He told me years ago they had a delivery room,etc..my mom was Noreen Gill and passed away in 1998.My mother also lived at St.Agatha's children home,Rockland,she had 9 bro & sisters,all last name Gill.

  17. I’ve just found out through searching records for some genealogy research that my great-grandmother was an inmate at Rockland in 1940 (according to the census). I don’t know when she went there or how long she stayed, but she had been an inmate of another state hospital more than once, so I assume she had a serious condition that was, at that time, untreatable. I was just doing some searching to see what Rockland was about and found this page, and through the comments found that I may be able to get at least some of my great-grandmother’s records for my research.

    Thank you for the photographs. They are heartbreaking and beautiful.

    • Your great grandmother was in there with my paternal grandmother according to the 1940 census
      Clara was my grandmother. She is named in the census at age 38. She also spent her life at Rockland and in Kings Park Psych.

      Rose, thank you for the records info. It’s interesting yet not surprising they had a birthing room. My grandmother was taken right after she gave birth to my father (his brother and him went to the child services/orphanage). Having a birthing room on facility at Rockland is scary in a way that makes it clear that staff and patients and patients with patients were allowed to mate.. or rather worse they were allowed and there’s not really consent if one isn’t sane.

  18. When I was 13 I was sent to rcpc. Which was the kids hospital on the campus.The old psyc center was referred to as “Big Rockland.” Us kids always had. A story to tell about big rockland. Even the staff told us stories about the old hospital. One of them was acutally about people murdering others. I do sometimes miss those days when I think about it. We’d grab our blankets and sit in a circle as stories were told to us about what really went on behind closed doors. That was 2004 though. Does anyone know if rcpc is still open?!! Thank you scout for giving me that creepy but fun feeling the staff gave us when they toldus the old stories.

    • Hi, Lessiy
      Yes, RCPC is still open, though I believe the building you were in is not the same one they have now. The new facility is right next to the new Big Rock. Do you remember any of the teachers or Mr. Cash? I would love to hear some of your stories. I just completed an internship at RCPC and am looking for personal stories to get a better feeling of what life is like for the patients. Please email me when you can: ahager@ramapo.edu

  19. Does anyone know if it is possible to walk through the grounds? buildings, rooms and such? who can I contact to get a permit if needed? my children and i have interest in visiting a so called hunted house/place. We are unschoolers, and the fact that they are showing interest in something like this amazes me and makes me want to turn it into a full research…
    tnx :)

  20. Greetings from Finland! Thank you for these wonderful pictures. What a spooky, haunted place. When was it shut down? In Howl, Ginsberg repeats “I’m with you in Rockland” in a kind of hypnotic, incantatory way.
    We have a similar, though much smaller, abandoned (though not run down) mental hospital right next to a cemetary in Helsinki, called Lapinlahti, built in 1841.
    Rockland County has a special place in my heart, as I spent some time there in the 70s. These names have a special magic for me: Spring Valley, Hillcrest, Nanuet, Haverstraw, Monsey… At the same time, there was something depressive about these places, so close to New York City, yet so far away. My boyfriend used to call Viola Road Desolation Row, after Dylan’s song. The Russian ballet dancer Olga Spessivsteva (1895-1991)spent 20 years at the New Jersey State Hospital for the Insane (what a name!), today also abandoned, just like the one in Rockland. Olga spent her last years at the Tolstoy Farm in Valley Cottage, a Russian community in Rockland County – another place to explore and cherish, hopefully not yet abandoned.

  21. Great photos Scout. I grew up in Rockland County as well, and my friend Jimmy is still institutionalized here. So RPC (formerly Rockland State Hospital) is still functional. In the 70s, as a high school student, my friends & I would hang out here once in a while with a staff member we knew after hours, partying and such. As I remember, staff, less severe patients and junkies would kind of come and go.

    In later years, visiting Jimmy, we would mill around with other patients who mostly asked for cigarettes. Many seemed heavily drugged (thorazine?) but I never felt danger. Rockland was a depressing but interesting place for sure.

  22. I found your site while trying to find information about Charlotte Oliver who was my Director of RPC during the early seventies. She was also Principal of the Rockland State Hospital School of Nursing in 1965 when I was a nursing student. The hospital Research department was the site of the early work with thorazine, the major tranquilizer that eventually fostered the trend toward medications that led to the de-institutionalization thirty years later. Good work on the photographs.
    Andy Leon, BSN, MS, CH (RN Retired)

  23. As a kid in the early 60s, I would bicycle from home in Bergen county and pass by Rockland State Hospital. I remember being transfixed by the sight of the hulking buildings and the enclosed areas were you could see people moving about. While I never went further onto the grounds, it made quite an impression on me. I think it is one of the reasons that I became a psychologist and have spent over 30 years working in similar though more modern facilities.

  24. Great website! You do a great job and I will donate! There is another huge abandoned Psychiatric facility in Rockland County in Thiells, called Letchworth Village, which you should definitely check out. The locals all feel it is haunted and it was closed down mostly I believe in the 70′s, when horrible abuses came to light, particularly in the sections where boys were warehoused. It is over 300 acres and was basically a small self contained city in its day, much like Rockland Psych. It is mostly abandoned now except for a few buildings on the old girls section of the complex which are still being used.

    Now owned by the town, I was involved with the mayor a couple years ago trying to find a developer, but the deal fell thru. If you’d like to scout it, I think it would be well worth it. If you send me an email, I might be able introduce you to the mayor for access.

    • Hi Kevin – what is your email?

    • Letchworth is in process of being torn down. They already tore half down for a golf course. Some old buildings have been renovated for a school.
      It’s sad to see the Kirkbride buildings go.

      For anyone who wants to know or info:
      My mother worked at Rockland Children’s Psych as a teacher and then a family liason during the mid 2000s.
      My grandmother was in Rockland Psych during the 30s-50s.
      I was in there myself early 2000.

      I have friends who have been in RCPC, some who hated it, others not minded so much.
      I have heard that the state Juvie Detention sends it’s worst ones to RCPC, so that you have a kid straight from the detention center who has to have 2 big guys following him around to protect the others. agh.
      These kids think it’s a vacation away from juvie.

  25. Can anyone give me the address to this place? Me and a few of my buddies wanna go check it out. I know the new wards address and from what i heard it is right by it. Someone help? Thanks. When i do go i will be glad to share any stories if i have aha.

  26. What fascinating photos and commentary. I just watched The Snake Pit, based on the real experiences of a woman in the 40s who was housed there. What a great movie and now I want to read the book. I can only imagine how much sadness these buildings once held.

  27. Who can I contact about this location… I’am very interested in this location for shooting a Documentary. Please contact me at Chris@tspnorthernkentucky.com

    Thank you.

  28. I have paperwork that I found at letchworth years ago. Any interest in it??

  29. I graduated from the Rockland State Hospital School of Nursing in 1969, and became a Certified Registerd Nurse Anesthetist in 1971. After a 40 year career in that capacity I am now retired.

    I have many very fond memories of my years as a student at Rockland.
    Most especially of the professionals involved in that program and of my classmates in those years.

    Your photos are bitter-sweet. Sweet for all of the memories they
    evoke. Bitter for the complete deterioration they portray. In its’
    day the hospital did a great deal of good for many people and tried
    to accomplish that for many others. It WAS NOT an example of a poor
    approach to mental health care but rather only a representation of what was the common perspective of the times accross the land. We’ve
    progressed and society is the better for it!

    Thank you for showing some of the history of our country’s mental
    health care.

  30. Shirley Gillard Thompson

    This is to David (Tank ) Henderson I was in Rockland back in the 1960 . And I am doing Great Would like to talk to you about your time being there. And I can say I had some great time as well . A Lot of kid that was there did not belong in that hospital. But it was a safe haven for some of use. You would not believe some of the things we done. Just to name a few we went to dances,boiling, gulfing ,camping,we went to differnce lake for outing that is just few few things we did. Hey David give me a call 571-315-5124

    • Hi Shirley, I would like to talk with someone that had been here in the 60′s I was taken to a mental institution in the 60′s I do remember lots of things, its an untouchable subject to people in my family about my young yrs.

  31. I’m a member of a parnormal research group and was wondering if this building is still there and if there was a way to get a contact to ask about a possible investigation. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hi Gary C, another paranormal researcher did an investigation there, a few years ago. Linda Zimmerman, an historian, & a researcher, investigated Kids Corner, the building that was an employee’s children’s daycare center. Back in the old days, that complex of buildings was used for the “New magic cure”, electric shock therapy. Confused souls were tortured, some died ,suffering from the medical fields’ newest “cure” for the insane. There’s plenty of odd things going on, not just in that building, but all over the grounds. Contact the director of Rock Psych Hosp, to see what’s needed, to perform an investigation. A lot of the buildings are now owned by the Town of Orangetown, so you might also have to contact someone in the town, for permission My Mom worked at the hosp, starting in admissions building in 1982, & retiring in 2005. I practically grew up over there, & volunteered for an animal rescue, that was in 2 different buildings, on the grounds. The original building we were in, had a tunnel that ran from the building, to I believe, the original main hospital building. Cats would go down that tunnel, til you could no longer see past the blackness, but I NEVER went down to get them. They’d usually come back on their own. I think this building was the originally kitchen/food building, that food was brought to the old hosp building, via this tunnel. Or, it could have Bern usedto bring bodies outta there too. All I know, is that tunnel scared the livi.g shit outta me, &

      • The old buildings all connect by tunnels. There was a way to get into them which is likely closed off now. Maybe i moved out of state.
        The new high rise buildings have several layers of basements and sub-basements which i thought interesting.
        As a patient who was higher functioning and not a behavioral problem, the staff actually let me see blueprints of the buildings.

  32. The children’s portion of the site may be going up for sale soon it is state owned property and town residents want it purchased for use as a recreational facility with some retail or rented space for income offset. It is a wonderful place and more than anything I would love to see it preserved but that is not realistic as the tax burden just to keep it as-is is already huge. There are rumblings of all the remainder of th unused portions going for sale in future. Again residents want town to buy it. If not, there are communities of people who are non tax payers looking to purchase it which would be an even more enormous strain on the already out of control taxes in this town. Additionally the groups looking to come here have a history of being divisive. (So in my opinion, senior cotizens welcome!). On top of that there is an estimated 20 million asbestos abatement that would need to happen to bring those old buildings to code.
    As for paranormal activities, sorry none to see. I live a few blocks away and am always in the neighborhood and have never seen or heard anything. The scariest thing about the place is the potential to run into the housed sex offenders or drug addicts that live in the new building. The old buildings are beautiful and peaceful. I live watching Mother Nature reclaim her lands. While I can’t speak for a patient perspective I can speak from a local resident one if you have any questions… Good luck and loon forward to seeing that film!

  33. I was a student nurse at Rockland State Hospital from 1958-1961. As I look at the photos, I edit them in my mind with how it was when I was there. It was a city unto itself…even with it’s own fire & police department. There was a beautiful Catholic church high on a hill. The priest, who was made a Monsignor was Father Cox. He was wonderful with the patients. It was a difficult time in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses. Some of the treatments were very harsh & I cringe remember being a part of them. Thorazine & Stelazine were just introduced. Many patients received insulin shock. I know there were many patients institutionalized who didn’t belong there, but then there were patients who were so sick that I couldn’t imagine how they could live without some sort of protection that Rockland did offer. It’s hard for me to say which area I found most difficult. There were over 20,000 patients during that time. The treatment of geriatrics was so difficult & to my mind, there was plenty of abuse. On Sunday the buses would arrive with family & visitors, mainly from NYC. The whole situation was very odd. I was only 18 at the time & had never seen mentally ill patients. It was there that I learned deep compassion for the human condition & spirit. I still work in the mental health field today & will never, ever forget what Rockland taught me about humanity. While we in the medical field have made great strides, this is an area of medicine that has been ignored and stigmatized. When I married & worked in Europe, things were different in the world of psychiatry. I don’t think I ever saw a leather restraint on any patient, nor some of the other things we did such as iced sheets, straight jackets, etc. Mental illness was seen in a totally different way. We still have a long way to go… for those of you who were patients at Rockland, I hold a place in my heart for you.

    • Thank you for your description of the hospital and the situation at that time. My grandmother was an inmate at Rockland in the 1940′s and 50′s. I was told she died there, but there was so much family shame around her condition, I never heard the facts. I wish there was was some way to learn about her diagnosis, treatment and life there. Her name was Ethel Grosberg, (my grandpa was Aaron Grosberg, my dad was Morris Grosberg.)
      I’d love to find more information about her.

  34. Wow, what an amazing series of photos and the comments were as fascinating. My heart goes out to anyone who suffered at that place. It’s a beautiful location and I commend you, Scout, for going into that place alone (if you were were alone) or even with friends. I am skeptical of ghosts, etc, but if there’s anyplace in the world that’s stalked by the souls of the tortured and the damned, that’s gotta be it.

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  36. Hi Gary C, another paranormal researcher did an investigation there, a few years ago. Linda Zimmerman, an historian, & a researcher, investigated Kids Corner, the building that was an employee’s children’s daycare center. Back in the old days, that complex of buildings was used as the kids section, & before that, for the “New magic cure”, electric shock therapy. Confused souls were tortured, some died , suffering from the medical fields’ newest “cure” for the insane. There’s plenty of odd things going on, not just in that building, but all over the grounds. Contact the director of Rock Psych Hosp, to see what’s needed, to perform an investigation. A lot of the buildings are now owned by the Town of Orangetown, so you might also have to contact someone in the town, for permission My Mom worked at the hosp, starting in admissions building in 1982, & retiring in 2005. I practically grew up over there, & volunteered for an animal rescue, that was in 2 different buildings, on the grounds. The original building we were in, had a tunnel that ran from the building, to I believe, the original main hospital building. Cats would go down that tunnel, til you could no longer see past the blackness, but I NEVER went down to get them. They’d usually come back on their own. I think this building was originally the kitchen/food building, that food was brought to the old hosp building, via this tunnel. Or, it could have been used to bring bodies outta there too. All I know, is that tunnel scared the living shit outta me, & not much freaks me out! Good luck if you get permission, & get in there, before they start ripping down the buildings. Also, if you do get in, look into the giant building at the center of the complex, near the old bus station. It was called the Big Rock Cafe last, & houses an old bowling alley, right outta the old days. There’s shoes, bags, & balls still there, as if everything literally stopped suddenly, & time stood still. It is one of the oldest buildings on property. = )

  37. My name is Barbara Gould and fortunately I lasted at Rockland for only 6 months – Sept. ’61 – March ’62. I then “took off” with one of the male patients (who I later found out was a junkie and I had no idea what that was – until I got into that life). There was a list that came out each week that showed who was going to be transferred to which building from the “intake” housing unit. I was secretly told by one of the attendants that I was on the list for Bldg. 500. That was the place women were sent – a bldg. that housed approx. 500 women – with beds side by side so close you could barely make it in the morning. No one left bldg. 500. lobotomies were preformed, electric shock, hydro therapy (the baths). Nearly all the doctors (of which there were few) had been patients at some point. The movie “Snakepit” was partially filmed there. The last scene of the movie shows the Port Authority bus picking up Olivia deHavilland and her husband “going home”. It was a nightmare place and yes, an older woman in my room (4 to a room) had pneumonia or something and the attendants refused to call a doctor to help her and said she would die anyway – she was too old.
    Keep Rockland State Hospital up as some sort of landmark? You should be ashamed of yourselves for even thinking of the possibility. The place should be torn down with the bricks blown up and reconfigured to create senior housing. Change the entire landscape. Let Rockland State former patients rest in peace.

    • Rather they should make a memorial for all the patients who suffered and died there.
      There are many that staff apparently turned a blind eye too.
      Also some just passed away. We had a woman pass away of a heart attack in her sleep on our ward.
      The funeral was on the grounds and our whole ward went. Only her 2 sons were there and they left quickly as if they were embarrassed. It was so sad. I was just glad our whole ward got to go, as the woman who passed at least deserved a decent turnout for her funeral. She wasn’t even that low functioning, it was as if her sons left her in the snakepit to rot since they didn’t want to be burdened.
      Definitely the place teaches humility and suffering of the human condition.

  38. This place was in my very vivid dream i had last night. it honestly felt like i was there. when i woke up i remembered the name clear as day. and looked it up immeidatly, mind you… i have never heard of this place unlill my dream. could this be telling me something?

  39. my older sister was a student there and graduated as a R N , my parents and my little sister would drive down from alden new York to visit her , we actually stayed at the girls dorm to save money on a motel ,it was very weird, you could hear screams 24/7 ,the water pressure there was strong ,when you flushed a toilet it was loud yes it was a city in itself ,I remember they had buildings just for the laundry , at that time there was a big investigations on mental hospitals in new York ,they had on the news film of patients being neglected ,I cannot remember the facility name

  40. Grew up in Rockland, and since I can remember, they’ve been debating what to do with Rockland Psych. Last I remember they were going to turn it into a golf course among other things. Though it’s been 10 years since I moved from Rockland, I’d be interested to see what becomes of it.

  41. My mom would take me there when she donated clothes and other items. It was very peaceful, especially in the fall, but I couldn’t get used to sitting neext to people who were talking to invisible partners. My mother tried to reassure me that these people were harmless, but she really had no way of knowing that for sure.

    My mother is now in a rehabilitation center for physical therapy and got moved because her roommate (stroke victim) disliked the sound of my mother’s PT.

    “If I had a knife I’d stab her with it,” said this roomate with the baby voice. And so my mom got moved.

    Since this witch is ambulatory, I do think she’s a danger. So, you never know about people. In the wrong kind of facility.

  42. I WAS THER IN 1949-1951 I HATAD IT IT WAS THE WORST TIME OF MY LIFE CANT 4GET

    • Jessica Richardson

      How can you get in? I want to see it. im very interested in this kind of stuff and would like to kno who to contact to get in and see it

  43. I think I might have been sent here at a very young age, I was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1965, I do know it was a mental institution because they had another child ( boy) tied up in the crib-bed next to mine. I remember some doctors and nurses coming in the room, untying the boy from his bed a nurse would hold my hand they would let me go and the boy and once they saw him go chasing after me, they would tie him up to the bed again. I remember the wall on each side of the room had a glass window which you could see to the next room and the next all the rooms down at both sides. When the doctors and nurses would leave the room they would lock the door from the outside and they would look at me through the small glass window on the door. I want to know if anyone else has memories like mine. I remember lots of horrific things, they only person that can tell me why I was sent here doesn’t want to tell me, and if I mention anything I remember they tell me It might have been a dream or a movie I saw. For the longest Ive been having this vision of a red door, and I got a knot on my stomach when I saw the picture of the red door.

  44. The unknown silver box in one of the above pic is a non functioning cooler. That and the pool table are in Bldg 13 and belong to the local fire department which was permitted by the state to store items while rebuilding the firehouse.

  45. I grew up in Blauvelt from 1957-81. My older brother worked there in the late 60s. The church on its grounds was beautiful and frequented by residents of the surrounding towns. I believe the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” is being shot there currently.

  46. awesome photos. I went there last Thursday. took lots of photos. creep place, yet fasinating

  47. In 1968, I was dating a girl who was a nursing student there. When I went to visit her, I was struck by how this place resembled a zoo, except that instead of animals in cages, there were people.

  48. I had a Summer job working at Rockland State Hospital in 1972 on grounds and building maintenance when in my last year at Tappan Zee High School, I used to check the underground tunnels connecting each of the buildings to replace burned out lights, the tunnels were there to carry patients and in W.W. II prisoners of war around to other buildings, spooky under ground maze that place had.

    I worked there for 4 years after High School as a ward attendant in building 23, I had a set of common skeleton keys that I would have with me that opened any room on the grounds including doctors offices and the pharmacy.

    I had to dispense medications once on every shift when I was on duty as well yet I did not have medical training.

    My father was a Stationary Engineer at the power plant between the 2 giant smoke stacks in charge of keeping the steam heat working, the building between the 2 smoke stacks also has 5 sub basements under it, there use to be railroad tracks from what at the time was Erie Railroad that went to the third basement under the power plant to hold the coal from the coal cars to keep the electricity and furnaces going, yes, on the second sub basement there was a pair of giant steam driven electric turbines that produced electricity for the “Happy farm”.

    There was also a 100 acre parcel of land on the South side of the gates next to Orangeburg Rd. that was part of Rockland State Hospital, it has a giant metal building used as a barn as well unless it got torn down, those were the fields for crops of vegetables that the patients had for volunteer jobs to keep busy growing food to give to the State, with no pay.

    Then before my time when W.W. II was humming there were 3 sets of medical hospital buildings only 1 set of what were called the towers still stands, 2 of the pairs of the towers were torn down to build what is known as the Palisades interstate Parkway.

    There were lobotomies done there on a regular basis up until around 1968, my aunt was in nurses training there back in the 1960′s and told be of the horrors that went on there, not to mention the experiments with psychotic drugs.

    That place was America’s little city of horrors.

    There were 8 dug wells for water outside of the gates to supply free water, now all of the wells are closed down due to pollution yet I know where they are since I grew up 4 miles from that place, the well buildings are still standing.

    I knew the children’s units for housing were on the Northeast corner of the grounds, anyone over 18 was put on the adults units on the Southwest side of the grounds, the canteen was nevt to the bus terminal in the center of the grounds behind the administration building.

    Student nurses stayed in building 28, all female dorms.

    A lot of spooky stuff went on in that place…..I could keep going on or take you on a underground tunnel maze.

    • Im interested in this tunnel adventures as well as hearing more sotries I am doing a project for college thank you.

    • I am also interested in hear about this! and Tess, I would love to talk to you about your project as I am working on a film project for school.

    • It sounds likely these “Prisoners of War” from WWII weren’t prisoners at all, yet doctors we took stateside to continue experiments here.
      The tunnel system is massive and they definitely got a lot of use out of it.
      Interesting to hear about the other 5 sub basements under the power plant; the high rise has at least as many sub basements as well!
      Big Rock Cafe used to have two really sweet ladies with thick Irish accents who ran it. Patients who had permission to roam the grounds or day passes would stop by the cafe for cigarettes or sandwiches.

      If you lived in the highrise, it was hard to acquire a grounds pass. Ironically many who did were also forensic patients sent from Mid Hudson or Kirby Forensic Hospitals.
      They used to give rare grounds passes to highrise patients to go to work on the grounds at the frame shop and workshop.

      In the fall the grounds could be very beautiful with the changing of leaves, you could almost convince yourself you were somewhere else…

  49. i have a real facination with mental health and have wanted to be a shrink for as long as i can remember! i am currently studying mental health studies, so i figured background research is essential. i had breif knowlege of mental health in the 1900s as regards to asylums etc, however i had no idea how these places actually where and that this stuff only happened in the 60s and 70s! it intreuges me so much and i am truely lurred in by it all. i would love to visit one of these places and love to talk to some of you who have had expierences in these places! please feel free to email me ( nataliedvitale@googlemail.com )

  50. Thanks for publishing these pics Scout! I came across this site beacause of the publicity surrounding Lou Reed’s death. He had been sent here in ’56 for shock treatment of his ‘undesired homosexual tendencies’. But as we can see from the many, many incoming comments there are hundreds or thousends of these painful stories out there. They should be bundled and kept as a memorial or warning.

  51. I’m headed out that way next year — are these buildings still intact? I’d love to be able to visit them. I’m a photographer from Nova Scotia, and an avid urban explorer. Send me an email sometime, I’d love to chat with you about this place.

  52. My dad’s business had contracts to do work in the facility in the 1980′s. We made draperies, blinds and other decorated things in offices. I found that in some wards the patients were more “rational” than the doctors and staff we met while working there. Finally Dad spoke up to a few of the doctors on their deminor and after that, he said they are the “crazy ones” and after that we never did work there again. It was our decision!!!

  53. Hi everyone, I am so sorry about the treatment you recieved from this terrible place. I am doing a project on the terrors of the treatment for mental illness. As well as going to photograph the entire place soon. Would anyone be interested in sharing their experience? Please email me if you are. Tessraine92@yahoo.com
    Thank you. I hope to hear from you all.

  54. Electric shock is still being used today in hospitals.

  55. I was there just last week, and they have redone about 60% of the location. They are renovation the building and using them again, i started going there in 2011 and to see how much it has changed amazes me. I know the history of this place but was never there my self. There is not like two different sections but they are connected. Rockland is now basically just for kids and the other part is called “the nathan s. kline institute for psychiatric research”.

  56. Anyone from the Yonkers area have or had relatives, friends, etc. who were committed to RCPC? Working on my master’s thesis and looking for a bit of information.
    If so, feel free to email me at Rmccain@gm.slc.edu.
    Thanks!

  57. I worked there in the late 1960s. There was a patient there who walked down the hall of the main building and knocked on every doctor’s door. When you asked him why, he replied, “It says please knock”.

    The movie “The Snake Pit” with Olivia de Havilland was filmed at Rockland in 1948. “A detailed chronicle of a woman during her stay in a mental institution.” It had six Oscar nominations and won one. You can watch a trailer here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040806/?ref_=nv_sr_1

  58. A step back in time for me. Worked a summer in the old children’s unit before starting OT school, then began my OT career at the old hospital, eventually moving into the “new” children’s psychiatric center. Many mixed feelings about my experience at Rockland. During my time there children ages 5-16 from some of the most depressed sections of New York City were the primary patients. Some appeared appropriate for a psychiatric facility while others just seemed to lost souls with no other place to go. The typical patient came from a family where the mother was either an alcholic, drug addict, emotionally unstable or all of the above. There were often numerous siblings, all from different fathers, and more likely than not there were multiple family members also hopitalized at Rockland or other mental health facilities scattered around the state of New York. Often times many of these children had no place to go on special holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas and spent the holiday with staff at the hospital. Rockland seemed to be their only home, and as they got older rather than leave the hospital a number simply left the children’s unit and were transferred onto an adult ward. I witnessed some incredibly compassionate staff as well as some with personalities you only see in horror movies. Children were put in strait jackets and isolation rooms. Use of antipsychotic drugs was just beginning. While employed at the “old hospital” I felt ineffective and depressed and seriously considered quoting after only several months. I had come out of school with idealistic notions of doing great things, all for naught once I actually started at Rockland. A new modern facility for children sat unoccupied on the grounds of the old hospital because although money was budgeted for construction, none was budgeted for operations! It wasn’t until an election year when the governor finally agreed to fund the new facility that I finally saw possibilities and decided to stay at Rockland rather than leave for a job elsewhere. With the opening of the new facility came a new administration willing to try new approaches. By no means perfect, opportunities for actual “treatment” seemed possible. At the time I left Rockland to raise a family, community-based services were just starting up and the nature of the inpatient population was changing. I found all the comments written about Rockland fascinating, and actually could write so much more about my time working there.

    • The treatments have changed over time, now i believe the staff is supposed to descalate them by talking.
      The old RCPC is the site of ‘Orange is the New Black” show that is being filmed at the old RCPC building.
      Anyone remember the huge fishtank when you walk into RCPC? After you get buzzed in?

  59. My GGrandmother died at RPC in 1969. She almost died 2 yrs before from gas leak in her apt. which left her mentally ill.

  60. Hello!
    I am very interested in collecting oral histories of people who have gone through the system. I think people who went through it have a wealth of information to share and this information needs to be recorded so that we don’t make the same mistakes over and over! i.e. with how our society interacts with people who are having emotional crises or difficulties. I am motivated both out of my personal experiences and my belief that these experiences need to be recorded for posterity and I would love to eventually make a film weaving stories together. I know that there are books and films made about this topic but I think that people’s individual stories are vital in all their complexity and specificity. I would love to be able to speak to people about your experiences, whether you were used the services at Rockland or worked there. If you are at all interested please email me at kjerstin.rossi@gmail.com – I would be so thrilled to buy you a coffee or a snack, etc for your time, as little as that is!

    • I would love to see a film about this place. I operated a food truck in there from the early 80′s while alot of buildings were still open. I have many memories of that place!! All the patients used to see my truck coming, and the staff would bring them out to the truck, many of them on leashes. It was a creepy place.

  61. I had a friend willam rivera did any one here from him.

  62. Found some written material to include a death certificate for my mothers paternal grandmother who died at this hospital. The stated cause was pneumonia and additional info provided included simple senility and some dementia psychosis. I wanted to look up the facility because I seemed so far away for someone from uptown Manhattan, and I think I was hoping she was in some suburban utopia far from the city’s rat race. I guess I’m correct in a way but reading some of the stories makes me wonder if she had the serenity, love and care that 89year olds deserve. The consolation is that she was only there for 5months before her passing so regardless of whether her death was completely natural or sped up by perhaps the lack of care or otherwise, it wasn’t a long haul for her. The most curious thing of all was finding the wire to my grandfather notifying about her death as well as notifying him that he needed to sign a consent to have her body used for scientific research…wth?! Not a request for consent but rather a demand that before you claim the body you have to sign this. My grandfather was pretty savvy, so I’d like to think he didn’t but then again, when people come at you from a position of supposed authority…you never know. May she rest in peace.

  63. My grandmother Mary Tallman worked at Rockland thru the 1950″s and 60′s, as a child growing up around her I was petrified of her, I felt soory for the patients she took care of, if the late 50′s she married Harry Edmand who also worked there for over 30 years, he was treated so bad by her, he was the nicest and considerate person to me and my brother but in 1966 not being able to take her abuse any more he when down in his basement one evening and hung himself.
    Not good memories at all of that place, just going with my dad to pick her up at night remembering the sounds echoing out of there was bone chilling I’ll never forget, she would threaten me that she’d put me in there if I didnt behave, no wonder I used all my life. They should tear it down or have it blessed to release lingering spirits, god bless the souls that passed thru those doors.

  64. I currently work at RPC, and I usually spend my lunch breaks wandering around the campus and checking out all the abandoned buildings. In addition to the hospital buildings, there’s what looks like abandoned houses and apartments on the south side of the campus just outside of the gates. There is even what looks like an old abandoned mansion with a detached garage. Almost all the abandoned buildings have “Danger! Asbestos!” signs on them. Although RPC is has a number of new modern buildings and is certainly still functioning, most of the campus is a ghost town. It’s mind-blowing to read about what used to happen there and what it used to be like.

    • Sometimes the older buildings have gas leaks which go unreported as well, yet the smell is blatant.
      There are asbestos dangers as well. One would need a gas mask potentially.

  65. Does anyone know if this is where Louise Avedon (sister of fashion/portrait photographer Richard Avedon) was confined when she died in 1968? She was only 41 at the time and I am wondering if her death was by suicide or something else. I believe she’d been diagnosed with schizophrenia, a condition that began manifesting itself in her late teens. She may have been committed there around 1949-50.

  66. WOW, what memories! Besides my brother and girlfriend working there for many years, do you remember the #20 bus trip right thru it on its way to and from Nanuet? Such beautiful structures, all hand built by prisoners of war as I understand it! I remember my brother telling me about the spooky tunnels underneath the complex – yes tunnels so one would not have to walk through the snow from building to building. Have you ventured into those? It would be a crime to destroy such history!!! I think restoration is in order – maybe condo’s but do not plow down the structures!!

  67. I used to take the bus to the Nanuet mall to go to work when I was in high school (late 70′s). The bus stopped at the Psychiatric Center, and there used to be a young man that got on with his mother and had to sit in a particular seat…if someone was in that seat he would get very agitated and the person would have to move. The mother was always very gracious and thankful to whoever moved. We always used to warn people who sat in that seat that it was “his” seat and they were going to have to move!

  68. These photos trigger for me a series of flashbacks to when I was around 6 years old to 12 years old, about 1963-1969, visiting what we kids all called “Rockland State.” Our Sunday School class went out there about once every two weeks or once a month to play with children our own ages. I don’t remember much success to these encounters, except, perhaps, to open our young eyes to what differences of life experiences there can be, even at our young age. These kids were locked behind giant metal doors where we would have to wait to be let in or let out. For the hour or two that we were there, we were supposed to make friends with the children, show an interest in their coloring or other work, and make them feel more loved and secure. I think I felt smug and probably , without intent, condescended. I remember one little girl in particular who was mute because of some tragedy that had happened with her mother. I think she was African-American, and she would always just sit silently by herself. Once or twice over the year I would go sit next to her, but rather than concentrating on her needs, and paying attention to any sign of what she might want, I was self-centeredly focused on whether I could make the child talk. It makes me cringe today. We also brought in books and sang a Christian song, and did a puppet show with a white sheet for the stage.

    There were also persistent rumors in all our schools about what had happaned when the inmates “escaped,” and our typical “urban legends” had a high number of ones focused on what happened when a mother or teenager ran into an “escapee” in her basement or the back of her car. One family I was friends with had a backyard that backed right up against Rockland State, and when we had sleepovers there, we always would work ourselves into a frenzy of fear that someone was going to come get us. We were experiencing that level of high-alert terror that groups of teenage girls can work themselves up to. I don’t know how much danger we ever were really in, although we felt we were. Finally, my last memory related to this time, again between when I was about six years old to about 12, is the reality that our principal’s voice would sometimes come over the loudspeaker, at an odd times, his or her voice serious and authoritative. And especially at William O. Schaeffer School, the principal would plain out say that five inmates form Rockland State Psychiatric Hospital have escaped, and parents were being called to pick up their children, if possible. If we had to walk home from school, be sure to go in a large group. And they recommended against the woods that many of us took the trails through because it was shorter to get to our homes that way. Even at the time, it didn’t feel like a great fear; it felt more like a reheased fear or as if I were rehearsing for some role.

    Best of luck to everyone! Did Nick Carr actually write “I’m scared” on that blackboard? Inquiring (and suspicious) minds wat to know.

    Thanks and Best wishes,
    Sarah

  69. I worked there for 37 years.

  70. Used one of your striking deserted-building photos (with footnote reference and source link to this page) in a History of Mental Health post about Rockland State Hospital psychopharmacologist Nathan Kline. Post is scheduled to appear tomorrow, March 22 (Kline’s birthday was March 22, 1916).
    Best regards, Henk van Setten

  71. The grounds have really changed since back in the day, the way most of us remember it from decades ago.
    The Nathan Kline Institute is on the grounds, that is where they do testing. It’s easy to sucker patients into volunteering for $50 a week to test various medications and such.
    Nathan Kline was involved with MKUltra, remember. Scary to think about that.
    How many people were programmed at Rockland State? They had a mold for you to fit. If you didn’t fit that mold, you don’t get out of there.
    For those who were truly severe, they wouldn’t stand a chance, it’s depressing.

  72. My father was a psychiatric nurse there from the late 70′s until the late 90′s. When I was young, around 9, I would go pick my dad up. I would have to go to the door to knock. The door was steel and the knocker was big. It would echo through the cold halls. They orderly would let me in, going its Joe’s girl. i remember being so scared walking to the nurses station. My dad worked with some of the really insane.even though the patients were behind big metal doors and bars, i can still remember the cold hollow feeling of being there. really a scary place. When we got older we would bet friends who could drive through there at night. It was a small city which was quit beautiful.

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