Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
 

Abandoned for a little over a decade, the Hudson River State Hospital is the first High Victorian Gothic institution built in the United States

David Goran

Completed in 1871 and opened in 1873 in the Town of Poughkeepsie, NY, The Hudson River State Hospital was created to usher in a new era of treating the mentally ill. It is notable for its main building, known as a “Kirkbride,” which has been designated a National Historic Landmark due to its exemplary High Victorian Gothic architecture, the first use of that style for an American institutional building.

The Hospital in 2012

The Hospital in 2012. Source

The hospital was divided into two wings, for male and female patients, with an administration section located in the center. The Victorian buildings, beautiful landscapes and surroundings of the Hudson Valley were all supposed to be a part of the treatment. Hudson treated all kinds of mental illness, from infants and children to criminally insane.

The hospital opened on October 18, 1871 as the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane and admitted its first 40 patients.

The hospital opened on October 18, 1871, as the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane and admitted its first 40 patients.

The entire facility was built over the last three decades of the 19th century and the campus was a self sufficient community, containing many buildings including a recreation center, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches, a public service car wash, power house, workshops, morgue, theater, etc. The hospital’s buildings were designed by the English architect Frederick Clarke Withers in 1867.

Construction began in 1868, with the cost estimated at $800,000.

Construction began in 1868, with the cost estimated at $800,000.

 

A small media room

A small media room.

Once complete, it would be used as intended for much of the first half of the next century. As psychiatry moved away from inpatient treatments, it began to decline in use until its closure at century’s end. The Hudson River Psychiatric Center has been downsized drastically and the Kirkbride building and much of the land and complex of buildings around it have been vacated.

During its heyday in the 1950s, the hospital was treating upwards of 6,000 patients

During its heyday in the 1950s, the hospital was treating upwards of 6,000 patients.

 

Most of the equipment was left behind and has been destroyed by vandals or collecting years worth of dust

Most of the equipment was left behind and has been destroyed by vandals or collecting years worth of dust.

 

The property is closed and fenced off to the public and trespassing is prohibited.

The property is closed and fenced off to the public and trespassing is prohibited.

In May of 2007 lightening struck the south wing (formerly male housing) and caused a massive fire, one of the most serious fires in Dutchess County’s history. A major portion of the wing was completely devastated. Five years later, in 2012, the CPC Resources who owns the property has set the 162 acre land for sale, citing that the poor economy has hindered timely development. Photos: Nicole Compton/Flickr

The hospital became a National Historic Landmark in 1989

The hospital became a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

 

It officially closed in 2003.

It officially closed in 2003.

 

 

Today, it is slowly deteriorating out of public view as it awaits reuse.

Today, it is slowly deteriorating out of public view as it awaits reuse.

 

Like any other mental facility, there are rumors of it being haunted

Like any other mental facility, there are rumors of it being haunted.

The massive site was finally sold in 2013. An unnamed buyer purchased the campus and it closed on November 8, 2013.