On October 1, 1931, Pilgrim State Hospital opened in Brentwood, New York. It wouldn’t be long before it was the largest psychiatric hospital in the world.
Pilgrim State Hospital, also known as Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, was what is known as a “farm colony.” These colonies came about around 1900, as a solution to hospital overcrowding. Patients and staff would live side by side, often growing their own food for both survival and therapy.
However, after controversies surrounding lobotomies and electroshock therapy surfaced in the 1970s, the colony closed. Today, the old hospital is abandoned…and super, super creepy.
Antiquity Echoes, a group of filmmakers, photographers, and authors, photographed Pilgrim State Hospital in 2011. It was a gorgeous, sunny day outside, but the inside told a different story.
Once past the threshold, dark hallways filled with debris loomed ahead. According to staff testimony, patients would often line the halls as they waited for lobotomies.
At its peak, the asylum was home to 13,875 patients. It’s estimated that at least 1,500 of them were lobotomized.
The procedure, which involves drilling into the brain to “reduce psychosis,” took only 45 minutes to complete. Today, the practice has been completely abandoned.
Whether from brain surgeries, electroshock therapy, or natural causes, patients were bound to die. This room was once used for mortuary storage and autopsy.
Here are the morgue drawers from the other side. Can you imagine this thing brightly lit and filled with corpses?
Many patients were mistreated and abused here, but the most well-known case is that of Beulah Jones. After 20 years at the hospital and countless lobotomies and electroshock treatments, she was left severely impaired.
Every former patients’ anguish can still be felt when walking through these halls.
Thankfully, most of these farm communities are closed today. Psychiatric professionals now realize that healthy interaction is often better for one’s mental health than being locked away.
To learn more about the disturbing history of Pilgrim State Hospital, including testimony from nurses and patients, check out the video below. And be sure to follow Antiquity Echoes on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Would you like to wander around Pilgrim State Hospital? Personally, I’ll stick to looking at the pictures.