The Old Kitchen at Sea View Hospital

Sea View Hospital is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever scouted in New York, and I’m writing this post in part to encourage other film productions to keep it in mind for future shoots.

Seaview 01

Covering 350 acres of woodland on Staten Island and comprising of 50 historic buildings, Seaview was once the leading tuberculosis hospital in the United States.

Seaview 02

The hospital opened in 1913, and was accommodating as many as 2,000 patients at the peak of its tenure. Research and testing at Seaview led to powerful new drugs that played a primary role in eradicating TB. I was told by my tour guide that much of the cure for TB originated in this building.

Seaview 03b

By 1960, the hospital was closed as a TB facility, and many of the buildings were left to fall into a horrible state of decay. With asbestos issues, structural instability, and overall weathering, saving any of these buildings, such as the former power plant below, would be a monumental task. The Seaview Hospital complex, Staten Island’s first historic district, is listed as one of New York State’s most endangered places by the Preservation League of New York State. As someone who finds restored historical properties far more desirable than dying ruins, walking the grounds is very upsetting.

Seaview 03a

Currently, Seaview is a rehabilitation hospital and senior housing community, and at least some of the buildings are still in use. Many, like the administrative building below, were designed in the Spanish Mission style.

Seaview 03c

Originally, the set-up of the complex consisted of eight patient pavilions, arranged in a semi-circle around the Administration Building, Kitchen and Dining Hall. This structure below is the exterior of the old kitchen.

Seaview 04

The old kitchen is incredible. A huge circular room with windows lining the ceiling, an ancient stove dominates the center, with an exhaust hood covering it.

Seaview 05

Here’s another view to give you a sense of the height and size:

Seaview 06

Decades have passed since the stove was last fired here. Currently, the kitchen is being used for hospital storage. This antique electric wheel chair is very interesting…

Seaview 07

…especially when one examines the old motor that powered it. Note the band connecting it to the axle.

Seaview 08

I believe this was the old walk-in fridge.

Seaview 09

This sign is painted beside it:

Seaview 10

To the right is this temperature gauge:

Seaview 20

Some odds and ends:

Seaview 12

Old hospital drawers:

Seaview 13

The kitchen is barred off, and is only accessible through a locked door in one of the senior centers (sorry, urban explorers!).

Seaview 15

A few other Seaview bits: nearby to the kitchen, in one of the working wings of the hospital, is this awesome glass window, which dates back to when the room behind it was a general store. The top reads: “Stationery – Cigars – Notions.” Sadly, an orderly rammed it with a hospital bed (the big crack below), and there’s little that can be done to save it.

Seaview 19

Also on the property in excellent condition is this incredible church, practically a transplant from the south-west.

Seaview 16

My guide, a custodian who has worked at the hospital for decades, told me that in the 1960′s, someone (I think he said the preacher, but I’m not sure) committed suicide here by hanging himself from a rafter. The custodian told me that years later, he saw a co-worker run screaming from the church, swearing she had seen someone hanging from the rafters. Of course, no one was there (I cannot find a word of this anywhere online, and I love the idea that it’s a legend exclusively passed down amongst the Seaview staff).

Seaview 17

Again, Seaview is a wonderful place to film and has tons of viable locations. With extensive woodland, old hospital buildings, ruins, a Spanish-style church, and more, it offers locations that cannot be found anywhere else in New York City. If interested, give a call and I’m sure they’ll be happy to accommodate.

-SCOUT

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27 comments

  1. It’s amazing, I work on the grounds of Sea View 50 hours a week and didn’t know about either the kitchen or church.

  2. Do you ever sleep?!! I love your blog. This is the New York everyone should see. If people can’t get there on their own, seeing through your eyes is the next big thing.

  3. I’m a new, but HUGE, fan of your blog – congrats on finding such an interesting subject to focus on and executing it in such depth and dedication.

    It seems like you’re career is perfect for you – you are very attentive to details, no matter how small, and I love that!

    Keep up the good work – I just discovered this blog last week, and literally in ONE night I read the entire blog way back to your very first post – I was up til 5:30am that night – and it was WORTH IT.

    I would LOVE to collaborate with you and perhaps feature your blog and your photos/experiences on my blog: TheWaitingRoom (keepwaiting.net) – it’s mostly a music blog, but I have featured art, film, culture, and random things I think are cool many times in the past. Check it out and let me know!

  4. Scout, have you published the clean hands sign before? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it before. I remember the awkwardness of the placement of the hands (nails facing, thumbs out).

    Kind of strange that they sold cigarettes at a tuberculosis clinic.

  5. I pretty sure shot there 20 years ago on Jacob’s Ladder. It looks the same, just with 20 years more clutter.

    The 7th & 8th pictures look especially familiar. Can’t recall how many days we shot there, but we all joked we were getting cancer just by being there.

    Nice blog.

  6. nice one – i scouted that facility for a roger waters project a few years ago, it looked pretty much the same, there are a few photos on my flickr page, ill have to post more…

    this was the location for jacobs ladder i’ve heard, i’m glad my shoot ended up somewhere else :)

  7. Nick,
    We love your site….the hospital was incredible…I can picture a movie scene in that kitchen….some very bad stuff would go down in that room….it was awesome!
    Also loved the tree eating the sign…and Palazzo Chupi….Oh My God…I’ve read things about it, but have never seen it. Loved the Hollywood comparison, and totally agree – it’s better than the glass virus spreading across the city! Keep up the good work!

  8. I actually saw this on a discovery show. Something about if humans were wiped out, and how long it would take for things to decay etc. I thought it was haunting but beautiful. This is a great blog!

  9. I would love to get into Sea View for a photo shoot. Can I get in without sneaking in? If so anyone know whot I can contact?

  10. the building look very interesting, I would love to have your job dude.

  11. I was a tuberculosis patient at Sea View Hospital in the 1940′s. I’m not sure of the dates, but I was, I think 10 years old. I remember that the war was on because we children made a Victory Garden behind the building where we were housed. I have many memories of the place but they are kind of jumbled in my head. I know I was there for about 9 months. My family had left Staten Island and moved to New Jersey. They never came to visit me. I knew I would have to do something desperate to get out of that place. I did get out, but I don’t want to go into how I did it. I remember that I learned to play pinochle while I was there, but after I left I never wanted to play that again.

    Joyce

  12. I just visited Seaview this past weekend and was looking for more info on the history/background of the place and found your blog. There is a site in Rockland County that reminds me very much of Seaview…it’s the Rockland Psychiatric Center in Pearl River NY. Check it out for another interesting location.

  13. I just found your website and found it very interesting because I have been researching my grandmother. She lived and died in this Sea View Hospital, of TB, so her children did not get to know her, nor the many grandchildren that came after her. But it is interesting to get this bit of incite on her last home. thanks.

  14. There is a similar abandoned hospital on North Brothers Island, which is near Randall’s Island. It was a TB hospital, and then a meth clinic in the 70′s. It’s totally grown over. Kelsi, this is what you saw on The show “Life After People”.

  15. I grew up on Staten Island & return there almost every weekend to visit my ancient mom. I have not visited Sea View since I was a kid, but will now be sure to do so. Also, I work up at the Rockland Psych Center mentioned in Barbara’s comment from April 26. It is a whole campus of mostly abandoned buildings, which used to be filled with psych patients before the days of “outpatient treatment in the community”, (sometimes referred to as “homelessness”).
    Wonderful blog.
    Jim

  16. My motherwas hospitaized there at Sea View. I was 10 yrs old and mybrother was 7 yrs. old. She was there during 1956-1958. I spoke to some representstive because I would like to return there now. I am 64and disabled but would love to see the patiemt list, looking for my Mother’s name – Josephine Ortiz-Santiago. In those years we were placed at the Preventorium for Children in Farmingdale, New Jersey.

    I have lotsofpictures of my mother allover Sea View Hospital, playing Pokeno with her friends and outside on the grounds just sitimg as well as in her bed and in the hallways, posing. She was a beautiful woman.

    Again, I would love a tour even if the builfings are dangerous.I need clossure. I miss my mother very much and anything that would make me closer to her to feel near her would be a blessing.

    I would alsolike togo and see if The Preventorium for Children is still there. There were two sections. Pne for the older children madeup of 8 cottages (4 for boys and 4 for gitls) and each had a cottage mother. Cafeteria, poolm and classrooms. The other building was a ways walking on a brisk Sunday to seeour Baby and toddler brothers and sisters. We would pick blueberries on the way there, once there we would help in combing the little girls. I learned to cornbraid hair there. Another place I would like to visit for closure in my life.

    We would get mail from our Mother from SeaView hospital to the Preventorium.

    PLEASE HELP ME TO SEE THESE TWO IMPORTANT PLACES IN MY LIFE BEFORE I DIE.

    Thank you and Fof bless you for sharing these pictures.

    Ms. Rosie Santiago

    • Hi Rosie. I have been looking for people that were at Preventorium and Seaview around this time. I saw the ruins at Seaview in 1998, but I have not been to Howell NJ to see the Preventorium. I think the army had taken over the property. I don’t know if the cottages are still there now. It is very hard to find pics but I did contact someone at Howell’s Historical Society. If you receive my reply, please contact me if they give you my e-mail address. Just include Preventorium in the Subject of the e-mail message.
      It will be nice to talk to someone that has been there.

  17. Joyce,
    My mother was in that hospital and died there of Tuberculosis in May, 1947.
    I was 13 at the time. I have never gotten over that. She was given pneumo thorax to keep her one lung collapsed but they lost the injection site, her lung started and she choked and drowned in her own blood. We had just arrived at home from a visit there and the phone rang with her notice of demise. She is buried in Ocean View cemetery. Being under age, I could not go inside. A friend of hers taught me sign language and Mom and I would talk that way.
    John

  18. Thanks for the good writeup. It in fact used to be a amusement account it. Look complicated to more added agreeable from you! However, how can we communicate?

  19. What a trip back in time. I was there for about 8 months when I was 14. I went to school there and I remember that (among the hispanics) they learned sign language to be able to communicate especially among the married couples and the ones who met there and started relationships. When you came into the hospital you were tested to see if you were positive or not and then you would be assigned to the appropriate floor in the building. I was in a large ward, we had a TV set and the facility for bathing was not private at all. I remember the nurses being very efficient. The food was not so bad. Every few months Doctors would come in to check us and look at the results of the lab work and xrays that we had and either told us we had to remain there or we would be discharged. My family visited me every Sunday, they would come from the Bronx. I remember seeing one lady dying after she had a hemmorage, it was so sad. I will never forget that place, I remember how large it was. It had a lot of land around it and I remember that the Spanish people would call the wooded area “los obejos” I remember that at the time 1952-53; there were a lot of abandoned single story building.

  20. My grandfather died here in January 1928 of TB. Does anybody know if there were records of patients, back to 1928? I would love to review whatever is available. Thanks

    • I found census records of my grandmother back in 1920.Hope you find what you are looking for! Loo
      under that

  21. This is so amazing I too was there in 1956-57 I was thirteen years old. I remember the day so well. My dad took me to the hospital for admission. I made lots of friends. I recall being transported to another building to attend school. I fond memories the arch windows on the large porches where we talked and fooled around. I don’t remember how long I was there,but I believe it was about eight or nine months. After my discharge I kept in touch with some of the girls in my ward, but after a few years we loss touch.
    The one thing I really hated was taking the many pills we were required to take. I remember the nurses standing vigilantly over us until we swallowed each one. And it was a good thing they did.

    P.S. Irene, we might have been there around the same time, and like your mother, my mother brought me goodies every Sunday The next time I’m visiting New York I will go by and see the hospital where I spent many days waiting until I could return home.

  22. Does anyone know the name of the fragrant herb that grows on the ground near the Children’s Pavilion way in the back of the grounds. I was a patient there in around 1957 and 1958. Seaview should be a historical landmark because this is where they conducted loads of research and discovered the cure for TB. Also, the architecture is unique, beautiful, quaint and splendid as so is the mural tile artwork in the halls. The children’s pavilion is located way in the back of the grounds. The bldg. has wings with enclosed porches where the children could play and get sunshine and fresh air. In 1998, a friend and I managed to sneak back there by car and the old hospital buildings were abandoned and in terrible ruin some covered in overgrown vegetation. It is very spooky. However, that wonderfully fragrant herb is still growing there. It is right before the entrance to the driveway of the children’s building. If someone knows the name of the herb please post it here. Thanks.

  23. Does anyone know where I might find list patients at Seaview about 1911 and beyond. I have been doing research on grandmother who I never knew. She died TB after 1911 Queens NY. I don’t know if at home or possibly at this hospital. Her children were placed (my mother) with relatives. I have tried to find death certificate but cannot locate name anywhere. I am hesitant to try again as birth records disclosed wrong party which I had to pay for. Does anyone have any helpful informaton? Please reply rosritch@embarqmail.com

  24. Love your site!! Just finding it now

    There are plans in the works (I am the architect) to renovate the Kitchen to display the 9/11 quilt

    The room is fantastic

    Keep up the great work

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