Willowbrook State School

Willowbrook State School

Willowbrook3In 1938 in a 375 acre section of Willowbrook, Staten Island, construction started on a hospital for mentally handicapped children.  When construction was completed in 1942 the buildings were converted to a United States Army Hospital named Halloren General Hospital.  In October of 1947 the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene took over the buildings renaming it the Willowbrook State School.

By 1962 the school that had been designed for 4000 became a dumping ground for mentally disabled children and swelled to over 6000.  Under staffed, the patients were locked in rooms for extended lengths of time and forced to sleep on floors covered in their own excrement.  Many of the children  were underfed and most ran the halls partial dressed or naked.  Between 1963 till 1966 medical studies were conducted on the children, infecting them with hepatitis, some by feeding them the stool of other infected patients. 

In 1971 funding to the school was cut leading to worsening conditions.  Local newspapers and media including Geraldo Rivera, reported on the overcrowding, lack of sanitary conditions and the physical and mental abuse forced upon the disabled  children.  As a result, lawsuits were filed against New York State which would lead to reforms many years later.

In 1974 the area was renamed the Staten Island Developmental Center and in 1983 a plan to close the school was announced.  The last child reportedly left the school in September of 1987.

In 1987 Andre Rand who had worked in the school, killed and buried has victim Jennifer Schweiger on the abandoned school grounds.

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The College of Staten Island took over 200 acres of the area in 1993 and a few original buildings and smokestack still stand on the campus.  The remaining area is still owned by the New York Department of Mental Hygiene  and some of the original building still lay rotting and abandoned  till this day.

Students of the College of Staten Island have reported seeing figures moving through the shadows, strange noises and calls and unsettling feelings. Having went to College of Staten Island I can say that at night walking to your car you did sometimes get the creepy feeling of something watching and following you.

Growing up on Staten Island everyone always heard the stories of satanists chasing and killing people in the woods surrounding Willowbrook.  I have also heard stories of people being pushed, yelled at and shadowy figures chasing people from the buildings.  A story told to me was of a dark figure following someone to their house, and the person watched it from their window as the thing stood in front of their home till the sun came up.

I personally believe many of the stories and feelings that came from this area can be attributed to the child killings of Andre Rand and the fear that sometimes monsters really do exist.  As for the stories of people being yelled at in the darkness or chased from the abandoned buildings that can probably be attributed to crazy homeless people. 

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  • Christian

    Posted at 2013-07-17 20:30:23

    Awesome

    Reply to comment

  • Stephen

    Posted at 2013-06-30 13:53:36

    I have to say that the both the stories and the feelings that come from the area aren't only from the killing(s) of Rand, you can't forget about all the abuse and deaths of patients from Willowbrook. I've been told countless stories about ghostly encounters from people I knew that had worked there. Also heard that they're planning on putting student housing on the campus and I can tell you that with all of the history of this place, you couldn't pay me to spend a night on those grounds.

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  • Jamie

    Posted at 2013-06-23 19:32:07

    I have for 12 years taken care of several people that lived in that awful place. And for anyone to call them crazy are crazy themselves. I can not see how anyone can not love these folks. I love them all and take care of them every day. Yes I feel sorry for them. I had one guy that told me he wanted to go back to willowbrook everyday and we told him that willowbrook was a bad place and was closed down. He cried because that was all he knew was willowbrook. And I have a lady that because of the way she was treated depending on what color hair you have will depend on if she likes you or not. I can tell stories of my folks all day long because I love them soo much. YES I hate willowbrook and feel that the state and employee's should be punched for what they did to my folks. They are just like you and I and they all have hearts of gold..

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  • Lauren

    Posted at 2013-06-13 11:01:50

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  • Russell

    Posted at 2013-02-24 11:13:41

    Under buildings 25,27 &29 there are staircases that go down about three stories underground.I know there still there,has anybody ever investigated what is deep below those building.I worked in bldg.29 and I witnessed with my own eyes the huge empty space below this bldg.The space seemed large enough to fly a 747 jet through.Is anyone else on SI aware of what I'm talking about.Back then I thought the space was used for bomb shelters.Can someone shed some light on this subject?

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    • nick

      Posted at 2013-05-13 10:37:13

      Under buildings 25,27 &29 there are staircases that go down about three stories underground.I know there still there,has anybody ever investigated what is deep below those building.I worked in bldg.29 and I witnessed with my own eyes the huge empty space below this bldg.The space seemed large enough to fly a 747 jet through.Is anyone else on SI aware of what I'm talking about.Back then I thought the space was used for bomb shelters.Can someone shed some light on this subject?
      I live on on Staten Island and i am learning about the past of this asylum.. so far i think all these stories are real

      Reply to comment

      • patrick stewart

        Posted at 2013-11-22 21:24:07

        Under buildings 25,27 &29 there are staircases that go down about three stories underground.I know there still there,has anybody ever investigated what is deep below those building.I worked in bldg.29 and I witnessed with my own eyes the huge empty space below this bldg.The space seemed large enough to fly a 747 jet through.Is anyone else on SI aware of what I'm talking about.Back then I thought the space was used for bomb shelters.Can someone shed some light on this subject?
        I live on on Staten Island and i am learning about the past of this asylum.. so far i think all these stories are real

        Reply to comment

  • annmarie

    Posted at 2012-09-09 17:58:31

    I was at Willowbrook in the early 70's with One Two One. My heart & prayers( TO THIS DAY) go out to the patient "Cindy" who chose me to hang with that life changing day. We had a connecting day.She was alert scared yet happy to have a one to one with a person. When it was time to leave & say our goodbuys building C caught my eye.Cindy became scared & was pulling me away.I just became more interested. After I returned Cindy to the meeting hall I TRIED TO ENTER BLD.C. A LARGE STERN WOMEN IN WHITE "YELLED, GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE.I told the leader on the bus & she just looked at me like she had no idea what i was saying..I saw Geraldo from the bus window doing his "walk" for the camera & I ran off the bus to inform him of BLD. C. Now it's 2012 & where is Cindy & where is all the concern & where are the cameras Did 30 plus years help or save Cindy ?Or will the scares that seap threw the walls of Willowbrook & threw BLD.C. be the only reminder of Cindy.

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