Monday, March 31, 2008

Creedmoor State Hospital, Building 25



Current Print Sale: For the next little while, a special gallery of prints from Creedmoor State Hospital, most never offered for sale in any form, will be available at 50% off the usual SmugMug prices.  So if you want to own a (representational) piece of this hospital, now's your chance!

Queens' Creedmoor State Hospital (now Creedmoor Psychiatric Center) had its humble beginnings as the farm colony for Brooklyn State Hospital (now Kingsboro). A prevailing theme in the treatments of the period was that fresh air, a rustic environment, and hard work could help restore the faculties damaged by diseases like dementia praecox and hysteria.

So it was that in 1912, Creedmoor unofficially opened with an initial populace of 32 patients deemed curable; the farmland was worked, which in turn meant less expense for the pantries of the local state hospitals. But the overcrowding typical of public mental hospitals in the first half of this century soon took hold at Creedmoor, which was granted status as an independent psychiatric hospital, and which grew exponentially - by the 50s, there were over 8,000 patients housed in over fifty buildings, including the highrise hospital which is still in use.

But with the advent of Thorazine and similar antipsychotic medications, and the trimming of state hospital budgets (especially under Reagan), deinstitutionalization occurred. The state hospitals were emptied, and large portions of most of the campuses fell into disuse. Creedmoor was no exception. Over the last several decades, the patient population has declined from over 5,000 to under 500. Large portions of the campus were sold off.

One building that is disused but has not been sold off or demolished is Building 25. Among the oldest buildings left on the campus, it was vacated in the early 1970s, and has scarcely been revisited since - with the exception of a squatter who seems to be in it for the long haul. Anecdotally, he has been living in the building for over half a decade; his robust squat (not photographed out of concern for his privacy) would seem to confirm this. While these photos were taken, he was angrily pacing outside the building, acutely aware that his home had been invaded.

Each floor is comprised of a long hallway intersected on either end by a perpendicular wing; one half of each wing was a sunny dorm, in which dozens of patients would have had cots. The other half of each wing was a hallway full of seclusion rooms. The violent, ill-behaved, and incurable patients would live in these tiny rooms, each with a solid metal door. The main hallway connecting the wings contained, on each floor, a kitchen and dining hall, and a number of rooms used for other nonresidential purposes, from storage to lithography.


One of the main hallways which connected the wings.


A standard dorm, capable of accommodating a great number of patients.


A seclusion hallway with private rooms.


This one belonged to Mrs. B. Shaw.

Past each wing, at either end of the long hall, was a dayroom. Patients who were behaved would spend their days here, watching television or playing boardgames, engaging in group therapy or staring at the wall, numbed by powerful sedatives.


A dayroom at the Western end of the third floor.


View from another dayroom towards primary wing junction.

Here are various other scenes from the second and third floors of the hospital; the first floor is boarded off and too dark to shoot.


Two blue chairs have been torn apart by animals under a patient mural, a common sight in abandoned state hospitals.


Wheelchairs have been collected and piled up in a number of adjoining rooms on the second floor.


Layers of paint peel back from the wall.


Another seclusion hall, at the end of which is a heavy grated window typical of this hospital building.


A room on the third floor contains a pair of lithographic presses, a pair of typewriters, and a cash register.


Surprisingly, scrappers seem not to have made any attempts on the copper in this structure.


Research still sits on a desk in a doctor's study, ready to be leafed through.


The third floor cafeteria, later used for chair storage.

The fourth floor is interesting because it contains the evidence of 35+ years' worth of pigeon inhabitance. There are pigeon droppings everywhere; in places, they are knee deep due to accumulation under pigeon "hangouts" - pipes, fixtures, and other perches. It makes for a rather surreal effect, though one starts to get a headache after about 10 minutes on this floor.


Fourth floor dayroom.


Fourth floor seclusion hall.


A chair, sunken into the filth.


Fourth floor bathroom.

But above all this filth and squalor, still partially hidden behind a layer of pink paint, the Virgin Mary shines her beatific smile down upon the empty dayroom, innocently ignorant of the suffering, healing, and humanity which once graced this building.



Images from Jacques Toussaint Benoit, another local photoblogger, are available at the Pasilalinic-Sympathetic Compass.

83 comments:

redrawblak said...

absolutely amazing and beautiful. thank you so much for posting this.

Ethan said...

Nice pictures! This place looks pretty interesting, even if it doesn't have a Kirkbride.

Anonymous said...

This place is great. I need to know where this is. Please email me at havok1175@yahoo.com I would greatly appreciate it.

Jacques Toussaint Benoit said...

Why is it this hospital looks so very familiar...?

Lovely shots and a much better write-up than my own. Mrs. B Shaw- compelling as hell.

BIB said...

stunning. those blues and dirt and crumbling paint. i really like the shot of the two ripped chairs. so glad you left a comment on BIB - adding you to the blogroll now.

ak AT adriankinloch DOT net

loose stool said...

you need to stick to taking pictures and forget commenting on the reasons why Creedmoor is empty is "Deinstitutionalization". The policy of then Gov. Mario Cuomo was chiefly responsible for the removal of mental patients back to local communities. There was no help for them there and many ended up on the street. It is so typical to look for the evil Republican. In this case it is the idiot Democrat protecting the "rights" the the insane. Google the NYT and you'll find plenty of articles. It took me all of 30 sec.

sam said...

great shots - that room of decaying eames chairs, oh man....

pregador27 said...

I work in the mental health field in Florida, so this interests me a great deal. I did live in NY at one time and dropped someone off to work at Creedmoor. These pictures are a but surreal to me. That is part of the hospital they are currently using? There is a place I would love to tour. The sad history of it all.

cat4u said...

I worked there from '75-79 in Blg 39 witht he autistic kids. I was a new graduate young nurse...very scary place The noise, the smell, the disregard for the patients at times...ugh. Still dream about it. This was before the new neuroleptics...Thorazine injections all the time...research meds on the kids. I wonder what happened to them.

raven_hawk@comcast.net said...

Beautiful pictures, sad but very compelling. I myself like these kind of pictures,it gives moments of thought. I was looking for something on Creedmore as my mother worked there in the early1930's as a young RN.She had many memories of the place that she shared with me some very interesting and very very sad. I learned alot of compassion from my mother for mental illness. She was a great lady.

Anonymous said...

I was a student there in 1956. The orderlies were more dangerous than the patients.
We had to take the patients through the long corridors that connected to other buildings. The orderlies were supposed to accompany us but they left us alone with the patients.

thomas said...

My grandfather lived many of his last years at Creedmoor. He died there in 1963. I remember a a small child looking up to him through the bars of the perimeter fence as he waved from a window. Does anybody know how I can get info on him and his years there? Tom

Anonymous said...

I currently visit Creedmoor approximatly every two weeks for about 6 to 8 hours at a time. I have been in a building that was reminisent to #25 (but nothing as bad as that). I found the picture with the plastic rocking chair very affecting and sad. I hope that one day soon scientists and medical researchers find permanent "cures" for the major psychiatric illnesses so people no longer have to stay in places like Creedmoor or the streets of our cities. The stigma and shame of mental illness surely cuts deep into the lost soles that have to live with those conditions.

Anonymous said...

I just took a class on Sociology of Mental Illness and we were assigned to read the book "Is there no place on earth for me": which illustrates the horrendous environment at Creedmore back when it was a state hospital and housed many patients. I really wanted to see how the actual Creedmoor looked like apart from the book. I have to say these pictures are mind boddlin, that picture of Dr. Shaw door was amazing because she was one of the doctors mentioned in the book. Thanks so much for the pictures, I finally have a full sense of how Creedmoore was really like. Keep up the fascinating work

Anonymous said...

My mother was interned in that hospital after her 1st suicide attempt--I remember driving with my father to visit her and how grand the grounds and the hospital looked from the outside. Inside was a different story. My mother was unrecognizable to me, and the other patients all looked lost and desperate.I'd love to know if anyone knows how to obtain patient records.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the Little Neck-Douglaston area and that place was always very scary to us as kids. We used to have soccer practice on the many fields to the left of the main hospital and it was always very creepy.

KSwiss said...

That's a lot of Pigeon shit. i guess they really liked going above that one bathroom stall Practically potty trained.

CFM said...

I grew up as a child just a few blocks from this place in the 1950's. The grounds were bucolic, the buildings a bit foreboding from the road, the barred windows creepy. You would occasionally see patients around the grounds, but behind the gated areas. The neighborhood around it (especially along Winchester Blvd.) was really beautiful. I had a HS girlfriend that live near there. As young kids, when you wanted to say something derogatory about a person or an acquaintance of a person, you would say that they "lived (or belonged) in Creedmore"!! I remember seeing the building of the new facility (Queens Psychiatric Center) across from the entrance to Alley Pond Park from the roof of my home. The years 1955 -1960. I wonder if this had anything to do with my becoming a psychiatric professional (doctor, not patient) as an adult !!!

ncat said...

Your photography is hauntingly beautiful. I am mesmerized by all of it. I also looked at the pictures from Jacques Toussaint Benoit and yours have an emotional impact that he is lacking. Thank you for sharing for talent.

Anonymous said...

My father spent 6 years living at Creedmoor. He first was admitted when he was 16 years old in 1947. Does anyone know how I can obtain patient records?

Anonymous said...

What photos~ How haunting and sad. I caught a glimpse into the past of my Great Grandfathe's life while a patient there for six years. He sadly passed away there. I wrote to Creedmoor and they kindly sent me all my Great Grandfather's records.

Anonymous said...

Nice photos. The last one is of Our Lady of Fatima appearing to the three shephard children. Thank you for the site.

Anonymous said...

I lived near this place about 2 blocks away. Patients were always wandering the streets close by. One dangerous patient tryied to break in my house. I remember clear to this day. I was very little but I remember my mother terrified I saw a quarter of his face and head a tall pale man with pale blue eyes and either very light blonde hair or white hair... I boys in blue from the 105 caught him not far from my house.

rmcmanus said...

Thank you for these pictures. My great grandmother was an RN there in the 30's and my father, grandfather and uncle all worked as stationary engineers there. my other uncle was also a nurse there. When I was in high school our church folk mass group went there to sing for the patients and it was a little scarey but it made me realize how lucky I was.

Gayle said...

Your photos are breathtaking. So evocative. Commenter CFM mentioned that kids around Creedmoor would insult one another with accusations that they "belonged in Creedmoor." I grew up near Osawatomie State Hosp. in KS (a Kirkbride) and kids did the same thing: "You need to go to Osawatomie!"

It is grossly disingenuous to place the blame for deinstitutionalization on Reagan budget cuts or Republicans in general. The seeds of deinstitionalization were sown in the 60's by misguided theories that mental illness could be prevented. President Kennedy bought into these beliefs and signed legislation that started the process. The Community Mental Health Centers initiative was so poorly planned that many patients were released before community-based care was in place or without even notifying the community mental health centers that were created to care for the deinstitutionalized patients. Another late 60's federal govt. policy was that medicare and medicaid was only paid to people not in state hospitals - of course that only encouraged states to open the doors and shove people into the streets. The number of trained psychiatrists plummented by half or more in the 70's so state hospitals were understaffed by unqualified people. An untenable situation was set up - hospital conditions were increasingly horrible and the street almost looked better. Reagan in fact spent money on psychiatric training and block grants for case management and treatment for mentally ill homeless. It was perhaps too little too late, but Carter did nothing in the 70's, the decade in which conditions in the hospitals were very bad and it became obvious that the community mental health centers were not performing as they should.

In your essay, you mention that Creedmoor, Bldg 25 and other parts of Creedmoor were shut down in the 70's - hardly Reagan's fault!

To completely change gears before I shut up, could those wheelchairs be salvaged? There is a wonderful charity called Wheels for the World (http://www.joniandfriends.org/pg_wheelchair.php) that completely restores old wheelchairs - the restoration is done by highly trained inmates in prison workshops - and sends them all over the world to benefit disabled people who lack the resources to buy such equipment.

Again, your photos are incredible. I'm glad I came across your site. Thanks for taking the time to document the places you do.

puggles said...

Haunting and lonely. You have captured an aura that I believe remains in such a place. As a young child I visited my grandmother there. That was 45 years ago and the fear and sadness I experienced has never left me.

Anonymous said...

You should try to find the photographer Michael Martone whose
own Father died there in 1956 he
alone has the sad surrealist imagery
of this place.
Martones Father had a massive stroke
and was sentenced there till his death from 1952-1956.
It was horrible for his family as his
Dad was so abused and kept dirty if
any remains in these photos of bldg
25 it's the squalor that was around
even when the hospitals patient population was at it's peak.

Anonymous said...

To the commentator "Loose Stool" the Republican Ronald Reagan also caused many mental patients to commit suicide when he was Governor of California as he cut back their
disability benefits or eliminated
them with the idea that if the mental
patients showed up for their SSI appointments that meant they were not
Crazy and could get jobs as messengers.

Anonymous said...

FOR ALL YOU FOLKS LOOKING FOR RECORDS ON LOVED ONES, I'M SAD TO SAY I BELIEVE THEY WERE DESTROYED. SOME OF THE DOCTORS AT CREEDMORE WERE CHARGED WITH MURDER ( EXPERIMENTS ON PAITENTS ) AND THATS ONE REASON THE HOSPITAL WAS CLOSED. THE STATE MOST LIKELY CUT THEIR LOSSES AND BURNED THEM.

Gerard said...

I worked at Creedmoor State Hospital, "P Bldg." as an attendant from 1959 to 1961. Eighteen years old right out of high school. No experience in the health field. It was very similar to the movies "One flew over the Cuckoo's nest" and "The Snake Pit"(1948). Attendants would take the patients down to the basement twice a week for showers and shaves. Three times a day patients were taken to another building to eat. They would have metal food trays and would be served military stile. I gave out med's. and assisted with electric shock therapy. Shock therapy patients were tightly rapped in a bed sheet and placed on a wooden gurney. Electrodes placed on their temples and the doctor would throw the switch. Patients were not sedated prior to shock therapy. Two attendants would lay across the patient (one across his chest - the other across his knees)so he wouldn't bounce off the gurney. The equipment looked old, like machines from a Frankstein movie-(dials & switches) The night shifts were understaffed. Often, I was the only attendant covering two wards. Seventy-five patients to a ward, 150 patients all together. This was a dreary place no doubt. However, for the most part the patients were properly cared for considering the alternative. Years later many were discharged with the belief that they could be cared for on an out patient program with proper medication. They were to become the homeless you see on the streets.

Anonymous said...

Amazing.... Both of my parents worked at Creedmoor. I remember the wheel chairs paint color on the walls. Mom was a p/t assistance and dad was head cook. I spent a lot of time there as a child thank goodness not as a patient. Its crazy to think that all the buildings that I remember as a child are no longer a part of the hospital. Although the building with the most memories for me is the one that is still funtional. Shout outs to Ellie, Maryann, and Dr. Ceriak. Jackie's baby girl is 31 now.

Karen Sharpe said...

Driving by last night, I noticed they were tearing down a couple of Creedmoor's building closest to the expressway. That prompted me to see if the entire place has been closed down. I once used descriptions of Creedmoor for a paranormal novella and believe me, my imagination was not as depressing and sinister as these excellent photos in here. The pigeon infestation was enough to make me gag. Thank you for making this institution's past and present, public.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures, and very haunting. I also have tried to locate records for a relative that was committed to Creedmoor in the 1930s and 1940s. I have contacted the hospital twice but with no success. I am afraid all records have been destroyed. All that is left are pictures like these, the stories and our imaginations. May God have more pity on their souls in death than he did during their lives.

Anonymous said...

I've read the comments posted here about Creedmore with great interest and nostalgia. If anyone is interested, the nonfiction chronicle of a young woman's lifelong struggle with schizophrenia "Is There No Place On Earth For Me" takes place mostly within Creedmore's walls and is an extrordinary and sympathetic account of the ravages of institutionalization in the 70's. The author is Susan Sheehan.

Viko said...

You may have not intended to do so, but I think you have managed to express the state of mind that a lot of people are in. The sense of wanting to help, but not knowing how or where, is something a lot of us are going through.
Brave New World Essays | Candide Essays

bjs said...

Did you know Creedmoor had a nursing school?- a 3 year program for RNs. I went there in the mid 60s and we actually got a very good education that included 60+ credits from Adelphi. But, as a naive 17 year old straight from high school the experience ranged from darkly oppressive to heart-wrenchingly frustrating. The wards were grossly undersupplied with bed linens or clothing for the patients. We quickly learned the "art of improvisation" as we made due- using a piece of sock for a washcloth for example. There was no shortage of thorazine though, and the patients were heavily overdosed. I can still clearly see the dayroom of 9B, in my mind, with the men sitting along the walls in those plastic chairs, doing nothing all day long. They would only move when a cigarette butt was extinguished in the big metal ashtray. Then it was a frenzy to be the lucky one to grab it first and get the last one or two small puffs out of it. That was the highlight of their days.

Anonymous said...

nice pictures bring back memories
i was a ward of the state i came to creedmore back in 1966-1970 it was a horrible place i was around 8 years old i had many beatings from the staff and other kids i did not know why i was there but some brave social worker got me out i do remember i was in ward 3 i also remember getting
electric shock therapy a lot of meds
i will never forget that nightmare

Anonymous said...

nice pictures bring back memories
i was a ward of the state i came to creedmore back in 1966-1970 it was a horrible place i was around 8 years old i had many beatings from the staff and other kids i did not know why i was there but some brave social worker got me out i do remember i was in ward 3 i also remember getting
electric shock therapy a lot of meds
i will never forget that nightmare

jlmsprings said...

Nice. Passed this place every weekend on my way to Belmont Racetrack.

Anonymous said...

After, being diagnosis as with Manic-Depression(Bi-Polar) I spent a good part of me teen years in this place. It was not a great place to live. Meds kept us like zombies.

bjb said...

Note to bjs: Wonder if we knew each other then! Will check this site again to see if she/he has found this message. I live in Manhattan now.
I too was a nursing student at Creedmoor in the early 60's. We got a great education between the faculty at Creedmoor, some of whom were Master's prepared, and Adelphi University where we took basic courses with medical and dental students. Our clinical experiences were at LIJ and North Shore Hospital where I worked for awhile after graduating. Working on the wards at Creedmoor was a matter of being overwhelmed! No framework for understanding such a place and the inherent culture - it was surreal. So many memories and stories...
The narrative and pictures on this site brings back many of them.

Anonymous said...

I am researching my grandparents and have just learned that this is where my Grandmother died in 1954. I will try to get her records but from the posts it does not sound hopeful. Thank you for this site.

Anonymous said...

I was a nursing student at Creemoore. Class of '66. If you graduated that year please leave a comment.

savedbygrace1197 said...

My brother would have been 52 next week and while I read these posts my heart aches. He would have been at Creedmoor around 1965 - 1970's. He was sent to a few other places that I can remember: Maimonides and St. Agnes Group Home. I'm not sure where else. Sometime around 1976-1977 he was released to the streets. We lost contact with him until my mother found him the summer of 1990, at which time he had TB and aides. He died in November of 1990. I never did see him again after 1976-77. I tried to get information from Creedmoor and St Agnes to no avail. Any of you that worked or lived there I would love to hear from you. There are so many pieces of my brothers life I don't know or remember. Please post if you can. Thanks.

saƧ ekimi said...

My father spent 6 years living at Creedmoor. He first was admitted when he was 16 years old in 1947. Does anyone know how I can obtain patient records?

Deborah said...

other buildings but I remember Miss Healy and Mr. Dilts, both nursing supervisors. They were kind, compassionate and professional. My parents were involved in forming a parent's organization to help their children and to raise money; it was called Kids In Distress Inc. or KIDS. Anyone remember that?

anthony said...

i have posted here before i stated that i was at creedmoor from 1966 to 1970 it was a horrible place lots o beatings etc i was i got there on march 24 1967 ward 3 building 39 i do remember miss handson and miss g
and a Mr pesky not sure about the spelling from there i went into a group home if anyone tries to get med records it will not happen they say it was lost in a fire that is a lot of crap any you can email me at tony2727@gmail.com

Kristen Hallows said...

I've read about the infamous Building 25, but I never learned the reason(s) for its abandonment. What's the story?

Rob Alpert said...

I am planning a road trip around the country to visit many ghost towns, abandoned buildings, etc. in November. I have interest in driving out to Building 25 but I cannot seem to locate it on Google Maps. If someone could help narrow down which building this is, I would greatly appreciate it. Please e-mail me at therob006@mingtae.net and thank you!

Anonymous said...

This was where they put Bud Powell & gave him electro-shock 'therapy'.

Anonymous said...

viastasi@yahoo.com
PLEASE CONTACT ME WITH YOUR STORIES ABOUT CREEDMOOR (WHETHER YOU ARE A RELATIVE, A FORMER PATIENT OR EMPLOYEE) (note correct email address)
viastasi@yahoo.com
THANK YOU!!!

REPLY TO EMAIL ADDRESS BELOW said...

(viastasi@yahoo.com)
CALLING ALL PEOPLE CONNECTED TO CREEDMOOR: PLEASE, if you are interested in learning about your loved ones who were at Creedmoor, have stories to share (as a relative, patient or an employee) i would like to speak with you to hear your stories!! I too am trying to discover the mysterious details of a relative's life at Creedmoor. She was hospitalized there from 1946-1967. She died in the hospital after living there for 20 years! I want to document her life at Creedmoor by speaking with you and gathering as much info as possible since all patient files from that era have been destroyed...Please collaborate in the journey toward discovering a loved ones tragic existence at Creedmoor. I would be truly blessed to have the opportunity to speak with you. Please contact me at viastasi@yahoo.com. Thank you in advance for your kind assistance...any information or ancedotal stories about Creedmoor are welcome!

SEMPERFI1 said...

How did you get into the hospital? i would like to go to take my own pictures. thanks

Anonymous said...

i work at the old willowbrook now known as Lifespire. i have a consumer who went to creedmoor and she sings a song (i cant really make it out) but in the end it goes "creedmoor i wanna go but the wont let me go creedmoor i wanna go home" can anyone tell me the whole lyrics to this song? its kinda important, thanks

Anonymous said...

nice shots, can someone please send me the address of the building< email me at alexmosescu17@yahoo.com please and thank you

Anonymous said...

can someone please email the directions and address to this place?
skybluerad@hotmail.com
thankyou

Anonymous said...

My mother was in Creedmoor in 1963. She suffers from PTSD and Epilepsy. When she was in the hospital, she was given shock therapy. I believe this to be the reason for her current illnesses; for she was only eight yrs old when this act was performed on her. I would like to obtain the records because something is very suspicious here. I believe there was foul play. Five or 6yrs ago, I called and tried to get the records and I also got the run around that they were destroyed in a fire. If anyone worked there or knows anyone that worked there at that time or if anyone can help in any way, please contact me: smiley2781_99@yahoo.com
That hospital not only deprived her of a real life, but they deprived me of my mother. She is still haunted by that place and I'm seeking justice.

MariesImages said...

How did you get access to this place, like you, I would love to photograph it. Please contact me ;) Thanks~

Dakini Verona said...

Great shots. My mother worked at Creedmoor in 1939. I have found some old photos and am not sure what to do with them.... any ideas?

Anonymous said...

My mother and grandmother were in and out of Creedmoor many times during the 1970's, I was just a kid maybe 5-8 years old. Depending who was in at the time, I would go visit them there. Looking at these pictures and comments is literally making me cry. I remember them both saying how they never wanted to go back to that place. Even though I spent alot of time visiting, I did not truly understand all the horror which occured there. I do remember stories of beatings, I remember the rec room where everyone would sit in their wheel chairs and stare into space due to the Thorazine. The tall green pointed fence which housed the grounds, the long dark hallways. This place was indeed horrible, it makes my heart hurt knowing my beloved mother and grandmother spent alot of time in this hell house. I still have a vivid memory of a gentleman who was there everytime I visited. He would walk around in a daze and say "Peaches, Apples, Banana's" to all the visitors, the poor man was obviouly hungry for some type of good food. This breaks my heart. I remember as a child teasing my mother about Creedmoor. I would sing "Creedmoor Creedmoor Creedmoor is my home." What did I know I was a kid. Now I feel so ashamed for teasing about this terrible place. I am glad this place is gone, the last building should be demolished and a peaceful park should be built with a memorial to all the poor souls who had to endure part of their lives in this horrific place. Just my opinion. I am so glad I do not have dreams of these terrible memories, I guess in that sense I am blessed. Peace

Kathleen said...

The song goes "I'm in Creedmoor now don't pity me, theirs not a decent thing inside of me, every night at nine they lock our doors, I don,t no what the f--- they do it for, when I'm on the bus and home again, I'm gonna drink smoke do a little dope and the hell with the juvenile courts". Was in the old building at Bellevue for 3 months then got transferred to Creedmoor for over two years, I was 12 years old, at fourteen I was transferred to "The other side" the adults section. My sister was already there in Building C all drugged up. Lots of alcohol and drugs around and affairs between orderlies and patients. They would unlock the big grated windows at night to let the girls out, when/if you got caught it was solitary and Thorazine every 6 hours, don't know how long I was in there because you come out like a Zombie not knowing the day the week the year. Lots of stories. My sister and I had a Manic Depressive, Alcoholic Mother so the doctor's felt we were safer in the mental health system then at home or one of the Juvenile court run places. Spent most of our live's in foster care, St. Micheal's Orphanage in Staten Island NY then a place upstate till 18. My sister OD when she was 22, she was a year older then me, I am now 59 and still making it through each day. The pictures were a shock and brought back so many memories. Most of the kids there weren't mentally ill, their family life was just terrible and made them do drastic things or just retreat into themselves like me. What doesn't kill you can make you stronger, I think it did me.

Anonymous said...

To Kathleen, I was a very naive nursing student at Creedmoor and though I have forgotten the names of the rooms and buildings - Building C definitely rang a bell. I read your story with horror and tears in my eyes.
You are a survivor. Go on to live the rest of your life in peace and with joy in your heart.

Anonymous said...

This is so great...I can't even...
This past weekend, I visited Building 25 to do a little research for a paper and photograph the place. Couldn't find a way in though (in broad daylight.) Wondering if you could tell me how you got in? I'm determined to go back and check out the inside.
Please contact me! groovy20047@hotmail.com

Sister Rags said...

These photographs have opened a world. To hold any one political party responsible for the lack of quality care for the mentally ill is absurd. NEITHER Repubs nor Dems have done anything amazing toward helping mentally ill Americans.

My great-aunt spent most of her adult life as an inpatient at C-moor during the decades from app. 1920 - 1960. For years I have searched for information on her life at C-moor, but, as most of you know, it is extremely difficult to find much info. I live on the west coast so, thus far, I've only relied upon whatever I can find online.

Has anyone out there ever looked for Creedmoor information at the Queens Public Library? They claim to have artciles and publications about Creedmoor available to the public at that lbrary.

If anyone has any informtaion, please email me: starcanyonbooks@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

My grandmother was committed to Creedmoor around 1926. I just found her in the 1940 U.S. census of the facility, so, I know she was there at least 14 years. Her name was Alice Fried. My email is fortfour@comcast.net if anyone has any information during that time period.

Anonymous said...

My cousin was one of the 7,000 who were released to the streets. She was murdered soon afterwards. The Government was responsible for the horror of Creedmore and then throwing the inmates to the wolves.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Great work. Discovering this blog was timely, too, having just discovered that an uncle I never knew was committed there in 1940 (per the census). He died of pneumonia from cold water shock treatments in 1942. He was the baby of the family. His oldest sister was committed there shortly afterwards and spent the rest of her life in hospitals. I hope they have more peace in death than they did in life.

Peter said...

I grew up in Creedmoor 1949 - 1966 and then went off to college. My father was the Chief Dentist for the hospital and we had housing on the grounds (now razed, sadly.) I remember it as a bucolic-looking place, almost like a college campus. There were lots of largely unused facilities where a kid could play. It always surprised me when kids from school were reluctant to venture within.

I was seldom aware of the misery behind the walls and bars, partly because I had been taught that Creedmoor was a ‘progressive’ facility, which it was, up to a point. Sometimes at night you would hear a patient shouting or crying out repeatedly from a window. And the bars on the windows and walkways were hard to misinterpret. Nonetheless, many patients were allowed to come and go on an honor system, and I would pass them on my way to school. The community often complained about the policy, though I know of no incident where a patient inflicted actual harm on anyone. There were a lot of shell-shocked veterans since WWII was not long past. Patients were encouraged to work as maids or handymen for staff. I had a patient for a babysitter more than once. The hospital provided free trees and holly at Christmas, and there was even a live Nativity scene for a few years in the 1950s. We also received produce from the farm until the land was needed for expansion, and fresh bread from the bakery.

I remember the student nursing dorms behind my house. When I was small I would just wander in whenever I felt like it but when I got to be ten or so the nurses began to challenge my right of free passage. I remember the laboratories with the iconic babies in jars, and the pen where they kept the guinea pigs. Creedmoor had a small baseball stadium and a minor league team that played against teams from other hospitals for the entertainment of the patients. Occasionally we'd get a major league castoff. The patients put on a show each year, one of which I went to with a good friend from school.

So it's not as if they weren't trying, but there are many obstacles in the way of making a mental hospital into a humane environment, given financial and political constraints. I remember a labor strike by the abusive attendants who thought they weren't paid enough given the number of patients they were able to abuse. Shirley Chisolm put in an appearance and Gabe Pressman showed up to cover it.

These photos remind me of the movie Titanic. Poignant as they are, one cannot really use them to reconstruct the multi-dimensional reality of the place. It was a spirit-crushing confinement for many but for some, I believe, a place of refuge, and for still others a place to work or to grow up.

randolphr said...

Good Lord, Peter, did you even bother to read more than 2 of the comments or did you just look at the pictures ? Your post is the most glaring of them all.

Anonymous said...

My first job was at Creedmoor in the summer of 1972. I was a high school student and I worked there with four other friends. My job title was "ward aide," but when the doctors found out I could type they made sure I never stepped foot on a ward - I did medical transcription. I personally never saw any abuse on the grounds, but I do remember having a conversation with one of the patients in one of the cottages I passed by each day walking to work, and the very next day as I passed I said hello, but she began screaming "Who are you?" and threatened to kill me, screaming and waving a tree branch at me. Also, there was a tunnel under Union Tpke that ran from the large high rise hospital to the cottage grounds, and girls were raped in that tunnel on several occasions. I had to use it every day and still have nightmares about it, 40 years later!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful painting of the Virgin Mary. However, she was not " innocently ignorant of the suffering, healing, and humanity which once graced this building." She understood this very well.

Anonymous said...

M grandmother tessie Demchuk was a patient their in the early 60's. does anyone who worked there remeber her?

Maura said...

I am just finding out through ancestry.com that my Great Grandfather John H Meehan, who "left" on his family in about 1910 possibly ended up in Brooklyn State Hospital in the 1930's and into Creedmoor State Hospital by 1940's. If anyone knows how find out more please let me know..

Anonymous said...

Most of you "posters" are hysterical over-reactors, with no historical perspective whatsoever. Any specific situation has to be interpreted within the context of its Times. have you been around when one of these crazies goes off the deep end? (Cf. the patient with the tree branch, who wanted to kill the young nurse. Etc.) The only tools we had to control them were shock therapy and Thorazine (or,a smack to the side of the head.) It was better (I guess) than killing them, which desire was the emotion these screaming loonies most-often aroused in their keepers.

Anonymous said...

How eerily sad! I am very fascinated, too, because I think mental health is so interesting! I was inpatient in a much smaller psychiatric hospital twice & received very good care! I wish those who were hospitalized a long time ago could have gotten cared for like they do now.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother was a patient@ creedmoor from 1922 - 1967. She was committed there after giving birth to my mom...We suspect after many miscarraiges and post partum she broke down...Her name was Margaret Hocking...If anyone that worked there remembers her or has any info regarding her...please share it hear...We have no info @ all about her or her family, as my mom was sent to live with her father's family, who refused to give my mom any info...They told her she was dead, until my mom saw the commitment papers, and then she questioned a family friend who told her the truth. I do have my grandmother's death certificate and she did indeed die at Creedmoor and is listed in the 1940 census as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm very interested in your story. How can I reach you to hear more about it? Thanks!

anthony said...
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anthony said...
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Anonymous said...

My two uncles were committed to Creedmore by their family who lived in Astoria on Steinway St.
I am not sure what year that was.
My mother (their sister) and myself (their neice) would take
the train every month in the 1950's from New Jersey where we lived and go to Creedmore to visit them. I was only 9 years old at the time. They both died within months of each other. I am not sure of the exact year. My mother did not share that information with me. I do not know where they are buried (perhaps Potter's field). This mystery has haunted me for many years and still does to this date. I too would love to find out when they passed away, why they passed away and where are they buried. They were deaf mutes, not mental patients. My grandparents could not afford to take care of them - which I do not understand why. They were harmless souls and I loved them.
Their names were - Eugene and William O'Donnell. If anyone knows how to find out this information please comment.

Anonymous said...

When I was little, I remember I would ask my grandpa " Hey grandpa,where ya goin'!" and he would say, "I'm goin' to Creedmoor to get a check-up, ya wanna come!" of course I always said no.

Angelique said...

My great-grandfather Dominic Cardone spent his last years there. If anyone knew him, would you please contact me. I have tried over the years to find out about him and the care he received, but no luck. He was placed there in the forties or early fifties. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at Creedmoor during the summer of 2008. I doubt the chairs were torn apart by animals due to the fact this is located smack dab in Queens Village, NYC. Not too many large animals roaming the grounds and many of the buildings are still active. I honestly didn't know this existed although I knew there were some abandoned buildings on the property. It's not a very big campus. The NY State psychiatric building is very close as well!