(Willard Insane Asylum)(Willard State Hospital)(Willard Drug Treatment Campus)

7116 County Road 132, Willard, NY

Status: Former Psychiatric Complex; DOC Facility; Abandoned Dilapidated Buildings


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By <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:KLOTZ" title="User:KLOTZ">Jerrye &amp; Roy Klotz, MD</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0Link

The address given is for the Drug Treatment Center which occupies part of the campus that was once the Willard Asylum. This is a Department of Corrections facility for low level offenders with drug addiction issues. Do not approach this facility without express permission or you will have a very bad day to say the least.

Once upon a time there were tours of the remaining – non DOC – part of the old asylum. These tours were at the discretion of the drug treatment campus. The last tour we could find happened in May of 2016. Right now, it says there are no tours planned for the future – hopefully, at some point, the tours will open again as that is the only way the public can gain access to this site.

Again, this is DOC property now and cannot be entered without express permission.



This area was first purchased in 1853 for the purposes of constructing the Ovid Agricultural College; it consisted of 440 acres. The school opened for classes in December of 1860 which was the worst time it could have – all men of college age were away fight the Civil War and certainly not enrolling in college.

Dr Sylvester Willard, the then Surgeon General for New York, had recently discovered the conditions in the almshouses – basically 19th century homeless shelters – was atrocious with the mentally ill and developmentally being treated worse than animals – kept in cages, some chained since childhood etc.

Dr Willard have the revolutionary idea that these unfortunates should be treated. While the massive asylums – of which this is one of the first ones – of the late 19th and 20th centuries were certainly not Hawaiian vacations they were an improvement over the conditions faced by the mentally ill in the early 19th century.

Dr Willard proposed the bill to create this asylum – a bill that was signed by President Abraham Lincoln shortly before his assassination – but died of typhoid before it was put into law. The asylum naturally was named after him.

The first building constructed was done so based on the Kirkbride style – one wing for male patients and one wing for female patients with the most violent put the furthest away from the center where the administration would be – although, unfortunately, this historical building was demolished in the 1980’s.

The first patient was Mary Rote – a deformed and mentally disabled woman – who had spent the last 10 years chained up in an almshouse. She arrived, in chains, in 1866.

By 1869 all 200 beds were filled in the main building and other outlying buildings began to be built. By 1890 – the campus now being called Willard State Hospital – there were over 70 buildings and 2000 residents.

As with the many similar – the majority of them being much worse than Willard – institutions or State Hospitals Willard saw a downward trend in population beginning in the 1970’s as new drugs were being invented and smaller group homes became the norm. In 1995 Willard released its last patient and closed down.

That same year a portion of the campus was reopened as the Willard Drug Treatment Campus run by the DOC (see above).

Also, in 1995 the famous suitcases were found in the asylum’s attic. Hundreds of suitcases brought by patients when they were admitted. The contents of the suitcases brought into focus a lot of personal stories of individuals who came to live here. The suitcases were never returned, most likely, because the patient died at the hospital and there was no one to claim the personal belongings and the staff didn’t want to just throw them away.

There is a large graveyard on site where the buried – 5,776 people - are simply identified by numbers losing all of their individuality to the state in the end. Many other former patients were cremated. There is an effort being put into finding out who actually died at the hospital but it is severely hampered by lack of records. It is thought over 20,000 people died here during its history.


Paranormal Activity

Apparitions of former patients and staff, shadow figures, disembodied voices, screams, laughter, crying and calls for help, feelings of helplessness, loneliness, being watched and not being alone, poltergeist activity including windows and doors opening and closing on their own and objects moving on their own, unexplainable noises including bangs and other loud and abrupt sounds, time slips, light anomalies, electrical disturbances, touches, tugs and pulls by unseen presences, cold and warm spots and virtually anything else paranormal related.

Although pretty much anything paranormal has been reported here it has not been reported at the frequency of other similar abandoned institutions. There seems to be a preternatural solemnness and quiet to this site.