Central Park of Morris County, Morris Plains, NJ

Status: Former Psychiatric Institution; Completely Demolished; Municipal Lands and New Psychiatric Facility


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By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">Mclib</a> - <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href=""></a>, CC BY 2.0Link


Conceived of in 1871 to alleviate overcrowding in the Trenton Asylum this facility opened on August 17, 1876 with a population 292 patients.

The main Kirkbride Building was 673,700 square feet (62,590 metres squared) with room for over 600 patients in 40 wards. Employees were housed on the top floor and administration offices were located in the center building. As per the Kirkbride Plan females were housed in one wing and males in the other with the most violent patients housed at the furthest end of each wing.

By 1895 the hospital was overpopulated by 365 patients. In 1901 a new dormitory was built which eased the overcrowding a little; by this time patients were sleeping on cots – which were not cleaned daily – in the exercise rooms and hallways.

In 1911 the newly named State Asylum at Morrisburg had 2,672 patients who were again sleeping wherever a cot could be set up.

In 1924 the name was changed again to become the Greystone Park Psychiatric Center. From 1921 to 1951 three fires started in the severely over crowded main building with the worst being in 1931 when patients were tied to trees to prevent their escape. There is no death toll from these fires but one can only imagine what it was like trying evacuate patients with hallways filled with cots.

Also, in 1931 the Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital was opened and some patients were transferred there. The patients had to pass a test to be transferred so Greystone was left with the most disabled and mentally ill patients. After this so many of the patients left were unable to do even the simplest tasks forcing the facility to bring in state workers for maintenance.

In the late 1950’s singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie stayed here for treatment of his Huntington’s Disease.

In the 1980’s – as patient care turned more to de-institutionalization – cottages were constructed on the grounds to allow the patients to live in a group home setting. The 1990’s resulted in numerous patient escapes as the decaying infrastructure had insufficient security measures; the escapees included the criminally insane and sex offenders. During this decade reports began to surface of staff abusing the patients and even raping them; some female patients even became pregnant.

Greystone very nearly lost it’s licensing during this period.

Many of the older buildings were demolished in the 90’s as well although, the main Kirkbride Building was saved for it’s historical significance. The Governor, though, did sign a decree to close the building in 2000.

In 2001 Morris County purchased the grounds for $1 while agreeing to clean up the site and remove the environmental hazards like lead and asbestos. A law was also passed forbidding the construction of commercial or residential properties on the site.

In 2005 the County began demolishing some of the buildings starting with the 1901 dormitory. Also, in 2005 construction began on the new Greystone Psychiatric Hospital further up the hill from the original facility.

In 2008 the old site was closed for good and all patients were transferred to the new facility.

The Curry Complex and Ellis Complex were demolished in 2007 and 2008. The County built a parking lot, a skating rink and ball fields were the buildings once stood.

Despite public opposition and protest – and numerous submitted plans to restore and re-use the building – the State demolished the Kirkbride Building 2015. Some architectural features were removed and saved prior to the demolishment.


Paranormal Activity

When it was still standing this location was considered one of the most paranormally active places in New Jersey. It was thought to be home to hundreds of lost souls who died here as patients and there’s no reason to think demolishing the structures changed this.

When the buildings – especially the main building – was still standing ghostly apparitions of patients were seen staring out of the dusty broken windows. Anyone entering the buildings immediately found the temperature dropping far faster than could be explained. Doors would open and close on their own. Electrical equipment would suddenly fail or brand-new batteries would suddenly go dead. Shadow figures scurried along the walls and many people reported being touched or pushed by something unseen. Disembodied voices and other unexplained noises were heard frequently. People also felt as if they were being watched or stared at as well as unease that built to the point that they would do anything just get off the former campus.

Now that the location has been turned into a park people still report sudden unease and chills that creep up their back. Misty apparitions have been seen after dark wandering the fields. Unexplained cold breezes will blow across the park even on the hottest summer day. People been touched or bumped up against something unseen. Disembodied voices and whispers are heard. There are still reports of being watched by something unseen and anxiety attacks that only fade when the person exits the area where the hospital used to stand.