The month of July has been a whirlwind of explorations, from ventures into storied mental institutions to beautiful, historic schools.
The latest article covers New York’s largest school district by land size. The Taconic Central School is an abandoned circa 1931 school in the eastern reaches of New York. The Colonial Revival-style building was built by the Works Progress Administration, containing numerous classrooms, gymnasium with stage, library and support offices for 600 students.
By 1950, the school designed for 600 students was bursting at the seams with 900 students. An addition on the north side of the school building was constructed in 1951-52. Designed by Starlett and Van Vleck, Reginald E. Marsh and Howard C. Snyder and constructed by George E. Emerson, it resembled the circa 1931 building but with less detailing.
The Ackley-Glynn-Wyckoff elementary school building was added to Taconic’s north side in 1962. An addition to the south side containing lockers for the gymnasium and technical education facilities was also added in 1962.
The new Taconic Hills Central School opened in September 1999 at a cost of $50 million. Designed by Rhinebeck Architecture & Planning of Rhinebeck, the 350,000 square-foot complex was designed for a capacity of 2,000 students. The new building also includes a 1,000-seat performing arts center, two media centers, an aquatic and fitness center, and three gymnasiums.
With the opening of Taconic Hills Central School, the Taconic Central School was sold, partially abated for asbestos and salvaged for metals and then abandoned.
Another new article covers the 500-room St. Ann’s School, also in New York. St. Ann’s School was built and maintained by a fund provided by Cornelia Stewart in memory of her husband. The cornerstone for the new school was laid on June 18, 1879. Finished at a cost of $800,000, it opened on September 20, 1883 as a 350-student military school for boys.
Designed by William H. Harris in the High Victorian Gothic style, the 300-foot long, 179-foot deep E-shaped building was anchored by a clock and bell tower. Outside were elaborate cast-iron balustrades, Dorchester stone trim and poly-chromatic voussoir arched windows.
Inside were 500 rooms. The first floor contained a library, parlors, dining room and eight classrooms. The second floor contained a 400-seat chapel, lecture and concert hall, a meeting room for St. Paul’s Congress, the school’s debating society, an infirmary, gymnasium and chemical and physical laboratories. The remainder of the building contained dormitory space for 300 students and apartments for teachers on the second, third and fourth floors.
In 1893, St. Ann’s became a college preparatory academy modeled after similar British schools.
After entering bankruptcy, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island opted to close St. Ann’s in May 1991. The last graduation took place at the Cathedral of the Incarnation on June 1, 1991 with less than 30 graduates.
The Catskills Tuberculosis Hospital was built to treat tuberculosis, a contagious bacterial infection. J. Pierpont Morgan, one of the wealthiest men of America, donated $85,000 to have the hospital constructed. Construction on the 190-feet long 60-feet wide sanitarium began in January 1896 and opened in June 1. The new hospital included the 190-feet long 60-feet wide Mary Lewis Reception Hospital that could hold 70 patients, Babbitt Memorial Laboratory, recreation center, firehouse and bakery.
The hospital believed in proper and natural nutrition and exercise, along with fresh mountain air, as a way to fight their illness. On the property, patients played croquet and golf on well landscaped and manicured grounds.
The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal reported that after the first six months of operation, there was a remarkable improvement in patient health outcomes in 60% of the cases with 9 discharges. The facility was noted as a pioneer in new treatments and diagnosis of tuberculosis, including the use of X-rays.
The Great Depression took a toll on the fortunes of the sanitarium. In 1938, having expanded to 780 acres but working with a skeleton crew and a few patients, was purchased by physical-culture faddist Bernarr Macfadden. It formally operated until July 31, 1942.
The sanitarium was then gradually converted into a general hospital that served local residents and vacationers. After the hospital closed, the buildings were re-purposed for Richmond, Virginia’s St. Alban’s Anglican Catholic Holyrood Seminary which operated until 1979. In late 1980, the seminary was acquired by the National Anglican Catholic Church and reopened. By the mid-1990’s, the Anglican Catholic church was in dire straits, with falling membership and the inability to pay priests. By July 1998, the seminary had no students studying and was closed.
Of course, what’s not to like about an abandoned drive-in movie theater? The single-screen theater, with space for 520 automobiles, was in operation from 1949 to 1997.
Finally, many new photographs have been added to the expansive Richfield State Hospital article, covering an auditorium and bowling alley, various hallways, bathrooms and a hydrotherapy tub.