Letchworth Village Road, Thiells, NY

Status: Former Residential Institution for the Developmentally Disabled; Abandoned; Partially Demolished; Public Access to the Grounds


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By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/people/7327243@N05">Doug Kerr</a> from Albany, NY, United States - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/6580769155/">Letchworth Village - Rockland County, New York</a>, CC BY-SA 2.0Link

Warning this article contains stories of harm being done to children and other innocents. Reader Discretion is Advised.


Opened in 1911 – with only the first phase of construction completed – this 2,362-acre (nearly 4 square miles) facility was designed to be the answer to the giant overbearing gothic asylum system. It was the dream of William Pryor Letchworth who died before the facility was finished.

The facility was designed for all ages, but throughout it’s history those 16 and under were majority of the population.

There were separate living and training facilities for all ages with able body adults expected to work on communal farms ensuring the feeding of every patient. No structure was to exceed 2 storeys or 70 patients. All patient housing was required to be 200 feet from one another and a playground was built for every dormitory.

The grounds dividing the buildings were designed to provide leisure areas for the patients and get as far from institutionalization as possible. No more over crowded under staffed asylums and poor houses.

There was also a hospital, dining halls and staff housing on site.

In 1921 the developmentally disabled had been put into three categories by the hospital administration: the morons, the imbeciles and the idiots. The last category was considered untrainable and unsuitable for work – males were subjected to intense labor including farm work and shoveling coal – and, therefore, of no use to the State and should be excluded from the facility.

No mention was made of what should be done with such patients although the doctor who wrote the report was probably thinking tossing them in the Hudson River was suitable. As you can see the dreams of Letchworth were dying rapidly.

In 1921 there were 1,200 patients and the facility was already becoming overcrowded but attempts were still being made to follow the policies it was created under. By 1935 the facility had reached the maximum recommended population.

By the 1950’s the population was over 4,000 and no attempts were being made to follow any plan at all.

Families were just as guilty as the staff and administrators; records indicate they just abandoned their relative at the facility and never returned. Letchworth had become a dumping ground for the unwanted just like the asylums and poor houses it was supposed to replace.

The 1950’s was also the beginning of highly illegal experiments on humans; mostly children. The polio vaccine was tested on one 8-year-old boy – for whom giving consent was an impossibility due to his mental condition – and when no side effects appeared 19 other children were injected.

The brains of the deceased were also kept preserved on site for “study”.

In 1972 Geraldo Rivera did an in-depth investigation of 3 facilities for the developmentally disabled including Letchworth and – for the first time – brought in cameras and showed people the truth. Patients – mostly children – lived in absolute squalor and without going into details the conditions were called “the worst conditions I’ve seen in my life” and “well below the minimum to support human life”.

There are also numerous stories of staff-on-staff violence including physical and sexual assault.

By the end of the 1970’s efforts were made to move the population into group homes or more modern facilities in the State. The population began to decrease – obscenely, patient mortality was used to best effect in showing how well the facility was doing in decreasing the population – and the remaining patients finally got some semblance of privacy.

In 1996 the institution finally closed leaving numerous buildings at the mercy of nature. Most people who were workers at Letchworth refuse to speak about what they saw and did.

The site remains mostly intact and the sports facilities – mostly playing fields – are used by the public. In fact, that is the biggest reason why the site hasn’t been repurposed is that the locals don’t want to lose their free sports fields.

There are still many who deny anything untoward – much less abusive – ever happened at the facility and in this world of cancel culture and alternative facts only makes the truth of tragedies like this more horrible and easily repeatable.


Paranormal Activity

Anyone can walk the grounds of the former facility but entrance into any building is strictly forbidden.

The most common supernatural occurrence at this site is a powerful and almost life draining energy that hangs over it. People have described the energy here as despair, torture, horror, insane, terrifying, despondent, draining, dark and yes, pure evil.

There are numerous reports of dark entities – what some call demons – and intelligent dark energy at this site. Many people have been attacked by things unseen here or seen forms of complete darkness in the buildings and on the grounds. Some stories tell of tentacles of pure blackness reaching out of the buildings seemingly looking for more victims.

Paranormal Activity Reported Here: apparitions of former patients and staff (anything from full bodied to misty forms); shadow figures; crawling patches of darkness; time slips; possession; dimensional slips; cold and warm spots; unexplained winds; objects moving on their own; doors and windows opening closing on their own; touches, tugs and pulls by unseen entities; scratches and bruises by unseen entities; disembodied voices and whispers; phantom screams, whispers, crying, laughter and breathing; empathic sensations of hysteria and feeling trapped; physical symptoms of nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and headaches; electrical disturbances including batteries draining in minutes or seconds; unexplained mists; unexplained thoughts of doing harm to yourself and others; light anomalies; unexplained sounds from knocks to loud bangs; phantom footsteps; being pinned to the ground or walls and unable to move; feelings of not being alone, not being wanted, being actively hated and being watched and the list goes on and on.

Please be respectful should you enter this site; the souls trapped here have been through a Hell we could never imagine.