(New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica)(Utica Psychiatric Center)

1213 Court Street, Utica, NY

Status: Former Psychiatric Hospital; Abandoned; Grounds are Accessible but Buildings are Not


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This facility opened in 1843 and was the first state owned facility for the treatment of the mentally ill in New York State as well as being one the first opened in the USA. It was built in the Greek Revival Style with money provided both by the state and contributions by the good citizens of Utica.

The asylum’s first director, Dr Amrariah Brigham, was one of the founding members of the American Psychiatric Association and, therefore, strongly believed in treating mental illness in ways other than simple confinement. He believed that the patients would benefit from fresh air and working on the facility’s farms and other areas. This is one of the first hospitals to use this treatment.

This facility gave birth, so to speak, to the “Utica crib” which was redesigned after a French design. Patients were put inside the bed with walls on the side much like a crib except the cribs had a hinged lid that could be locked. The patients were, basically, imprisoned in there. The method was highly criticized (put people in a cage and they begin to act like animals) but many patients with whom the treatment was used on claimed that they got the best rest of their lives while sleeping in the crib. There were, however a number of deaths in the cribs – mostly from heart attack and stroke.

In 1887 all the Cribs were removed.

Almost from the beginning this hospital was overcrowded and underfunded. The rate at which patients were cured and released back to society began to fall steadily. As with many other similar institutions of the late 19th and early to mid 20th Century stories of brutal and inhuman treatment of patients began to surface here.

In 1977 the original older buildings were abandoned, but today they still stand silent and boarded up. Some are used for holding records of the New York State Office of Mental Health. Some of the newer and more modern buildings on the property are still used today for psychiatric and other medical care.

Occasionally the State does allow people inside the buildings for tours. In the past these events have resulted in hundreds being turned away as so many people showed up. Other than that this is private property, although the grounds can be entered.


Paranormal Activity

There are multiple reports of almost every type of paranormal activity possible.

These reports include: apparitions of former patients and staff, shadow figures, feelings of being watched, not wanted, extreme unease, physical and psychological illness and being followed, empathetic sensations of sadness, misery and madness, disembodied voices, screams, cries and laughter, phantom footsteps and other unexplained bangs and noises, electrical disturbances, windows and doors opening on their own, unexplained lights and orbs, mysterious mists, lights going on and off on their own as well turning in in rooms and areas that no longer have electricity, touches, pokes and pulls by invisible presences, possession etc.