Of all the historic settings in the Hudson Valley, few rivet quite the interest that Letchworth Village does. Located in Thiells, the institution first took root in the region in 1911, when it offered a community living space for mentally and physically disabled children and adults. The operation began as a saving grace for patients who needed full-time attendance and expert care, taking some of the pressure away from the overcrowded facilities at places like Bellevue Hospital in New York. Yet after it reached, and then exceeded its 3,000-patient limit in 1935, its quality of care deteriorated after pleas for funding went unanswered.
By the time newsman Geraldo Rivera released Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace, his Peabody Award-winning documentary that spotlighted the crowded, unsanitary, and neglectful atmosphere inside Letchworth Village and Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, the Thiells site was already on its way to an eventual downfall in 1996.
Spent a few hours exploring Letchworth Village, an abandoned insane asylum, in Thiells NY yesterday. It’s a bit creepy. Some of the buildings housed the elderly, some housed little ones (toddler age). Most of the building look, inside, as though they just up and left one day leaving everything as it stood. The kids housing had rows of abandoned, tiny, beds. Kind of glad those shots didn’t come out well as they sight of the beds was rather disturbing. #Letchworth #Abandoned #Asylum Pt 2
Even after the space deinstitutionalized, the property continued to find uses with both the towns of Haverstraw and Stony Point, which purchased the land for the Philip J. Rotella and Patriot Hills golf courses. As for the buildings on the property, some of them found new life as community centers, schools, and public service buildings
Now, in 2019, Letchworth anticipates a true rebirth.
If the town of Stony Point gets its way, it will sell its claims on Letchworth Village to development group Patriot Park Hills LLC. Currently, the group and the town currently have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the sale of the 200-acre Patriot Hills Golf Course and 25 acres of the Letchworth property. They currently await legislature approval for the ownership transfer, since part of the anticipated contract will involve historic grounds (in fact, five of the holes on the course are designated parkland).
“We’re waiting on the State Office of General Services to review the deeds,” explains Stony Point Town Supervisor Jim Monaghan, adding that the provisional deeds require stipulations designed to protect the golf course terrain and some of the historic buildings on the Letchworth grounds.
As for what Letchworth will become, that remains in the hands of Patriot Park Hills LLC. Notably, the organization does have local ties, thanks to the fact that two of its three founding members are Stony Point residents. Raja Amar, the project leader and a Stony Point local, is also the CEO of Portables Unlimited, LLC, a T-Mobile wholesaler based in Nanuet. Joining him is fellow local Brion Hayman and Lawrence Melchionda, a New Jersey native who works with Amar as the COO and vice president of Portables Unlimited.
While the developers await the deed approval from the state during the next few weeks, they already have a provisional plan for how they’ll transform the site. The golf course will stay as it is, although it will be enhanced with onsite locker rooms and showers. It will be accessible to both Stony Point residents, who will receive a reduced rate, and the Hudson Valley community at large. In regard to the rest of the Letchworth property, it will welcome a hotel and conference center to attract visitors and help make Stony Point more of a tourism destination. Many of the Letchworth buildings will be preserved to keep the site’s history intact.
As long as the grounds – and the golf course – remain accessible to locals, Monaghan and the Stony Point have an optimistic outlook on the overall development.
“We want to make sure that the golf course remains a golf course,” he stresses.