We recently took a trip to abandoned Letchworth Village, once a famous institution for the treatment of the mentally and physically disabled.
Lethworth Village was a residential institution located in Rockland County, New York, in the hamlet of Thiells built for the physically and mentally disabled of all ages, from the newborn to the elderly. Opened in 1911, Letchworth Village at its peak consisted of over 130 buildings spread out over many acres of land. It was named for William Pryor Letchworth, who espoused reform in the treatment and care of the insane, epileptics, and poor children.
The first residents were admitted on July 10, 1911. Under the direction of superintendent Dr. Charles Sherman Little, a psychiatrist, the Village grew to comprise more than 130 buildings on 2,000 acres, and was designed to care for 3,000 patients. In 1921, Dr. Little presented an annual report in which he categorized the patients. They were grouped into three then-medically accepted but now-cringeworthy types of “feeble-mindedness” — “idiot,” “imbecile,” and “moron” — based on IQ. According to their abilities, they helped farm, plow, care for animals, cook, sew, and clean, and were provided vocational training in carpentry, shoe repair, welding, and other useful skills. The Village had its own power plant and recreational facilities.
On February 27, 1950, the first trial case of the polio vaccine in the United States was administered to an 8-year-old patient by , Hilary Kaprowski after he tried it on himself. After the patient suffered no side effects, the vaccine was administered to 19 more of the institution’s children. Out of a total of 20 children, 17 developed antibodies to the virus, and none developed any complications.
At its peak, the Village employed about 10,000 locals. Almost every family in North Rockland had someone working up there, and many in the same family worked in various buildings. It was the top facility of its kind in the whole country. But it became a victim of its own success.”
Letchworth Village reached its 3,000-patient limit in 1935. New arrivals from places like New York’s Bellevue Hospital overcrowded the facilities and overwhelmed the staff. Despite pleas for more funding, not much changed.
Many of these people who lived there as patients had no families, friends or relatives that cared about them or for them. These unfortunate people had no protection and only their caretakers at Letchworth to rely on.
Today, Letchworth Village is currently abandoned. Part of the grounds are used by a local Middle and Elimantery school, but the rest of the buildings are in a state of decay, and are in a state of limbo between being destroyed for condos, or being restored and turned into recreation facilities. The buildings are off limits, but the grounds are open to the public during daytime hours.
Here are some more photos from our trip , hope you folks enjoy urbexing by looking at them without getting out of your comfort zone.
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Info source/credit : hvmag.com, wikipedia.org, letchworthvillage.info, lite987.com