The buildings on this Wingdale New York property were built with the intention of being a correctional facility but with complaints from the community and the demand for more psychiatric hospitals to reduce overcrowding in hospitals closer to the city, the the campus was converted into a state funded hospital for the mentally ill.
Power plant located across the street from the main hospital buildings
Harlem Valley State Hospital officially opened on April 24, 1924 with about 80 buildings sprawled out across 800 acres. The goal was to not only be a leader in the treatment of mental illness but to also be a self sufficient hospital community. By 1934, Harlem Valley State Hospital became like a town of its own complete with its own baseball field, small orchard, bowling alley, laundry, bakery, refrigeration plants, storerooms, powerplants, golf course and greenhouse.
In 1936, the Austrian-American psychiatrist Manfred Sakal was invited to come from Vienna Germany to Harlem Valley State Hospital to demonstrate his method of insulin shock therapy. After the demonstration by Dr. Sakal, Harlem Valley State Hospital became the first hospital in the United States to use insulin therapy for the treatment of those with mental illnesses. Years later in 1941, electroshock therapy was introduced to the hospital and was thought of as being one of the more effective methods of treatment.
Once the US entered WWII, Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center lost a lot of their staff to war related jobs or the armed services which left the supervisors desperate to fill their positions. The hiring of inexperienced nurses and staff members as well as the overwhelming population growth led to the unfortunate neglect of patients.
All photos taken by Sami Fego unless stated otherwise