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Hudson River State Hospital

Poughkeepsie, New York
1871- 2012


Hudson River State Hospital was New York’s third state run mental hospital after Utica Psychiatric Center in 1843 and Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane in 1869. They need a location that could serve Albany to New York City. They scouted a location on the Hudson river in the town of Poughkeepsie. Being built in the era of “moral treatment” for the mentally ill, this was a perfect location from the busy dirty cities. Hudson River State Hospital followed the Kirkbride plan. The Admin building was at the center of the hospital while the wards would wing out like a bat. The kirkbride plan would be perfect for giving patents plenty of space, fresh air, greens, and beauty to help with aiding them into recovery. Instead of hiring a general contractor the state decided to hire local craftsmen. The local craftsmen took pride in their work to build this hospital with great detail and love. The hospitals beauty was like no other. Hudson River State Hospital was the first High Victorian Gothic Institution in the United States. It opened it’s door on October 18, 1871. The female wards was to the north while the male wards was to the south of the main admin building. A church was built behind the admin to keep patients from seeing each other from the wards. In later years as the female population out grew the males, the wards were switched. The campus would keep expanding over the years. In 1934 Ryon Hall opened for violent or criminally insane patients. The Clarence O. Cheney building opened in 1952 for doctors offices, medical examination rooms and some patient housing as well.  The last building to be built on the property was the Herman B. Snow Rehabilitation Center. It was for recreational relief for patients. The center had a  swimming pool, bowling alley, basketball court, auditorium and a lunch room. Over the next 40 years the hospitals population would start to decrease in numbers. By the early 90s with smaller numbers of patients at psychiatric hospital the huge campus started to downsize its duties. In 1994 the hospital would consolidated with neighboring hospital Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center for most of it functions and by 2001 the main campus including the Kirkbride would be abandoned. Most of the hospitals functions would now be moved to smaller areas of the campus. The hospital remained open into the 2000s but like most mental hospital in America, with budget cuts and alternative treatment for the mental ill, Hudson River State Hospital had its days number. On the third week in January 2012, the remaining 15 patients would be transferred to Rockland Psychiatric Center. On January 25, 2012 Hudson River Psychiatric Hospital closed its doors after 141 years of service. Not much remains of the campus now. Most of the buildings are slated for demo and the Kirkbride has had many hard hitting fires. The South Wing was hit the hardest by a fire in 2007 by lighting. The Admin was set fire in 2018. The property is now under redevelopment.


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