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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s another view to give you a sense of the height and size:
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…
…especially when one examines the old motor that powered it. Note the band connecting it to the axle.
I believe this was the old walk-in fridge.
This sign is painted beside it:
To the right is this temperature gauge:
Some odds and ends:
Old hospital drawers:
The kitchen is barred off, and is only accessible through a locked door in one of the senior centers (sorry, urban explorers!).
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.
Also on the property in excellent condition is this incredible church, practically a transplant from the south-west.
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).
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.
If you enjoyed reading this post, would you consider making a donation to help me make my first movie? Just $5 or $10 can make a difference - AND you get this snazzy Scouting NY sticker/magnet as a Thank-You gift! Click here to donate today!