R.I.P. Rockland State Hospital

Rockland State Hospital

Demolition of Rockland State Hospital in New York has begun for a J.P. Morgan Chase data center.

Demolition of Rockland State Hospital in New York has begun for a J.P. Morgan Chase data center.

Like other state hospitals in the state, Rockland was located in a rural area, far away from the noise and pollution of a major city. It was believed that the isolation would cure or aid them of their mental illness. Upon opening in 1931, the facility contained 5,768 beds, six cottages for children, a working farm, power plant, and industrial shops.

At its peak in 1956, Rockland boasted more than 9,650 residents and a staff of 2,000.

Deinstitutionalization, the process of replacing long-term psychiatric hospitals with community mental health services, began in the 1960s. The movement towards deinstitutionalization was born out of a socio-political movement for community-based services and open hospitals and the advent of psychotropic drugs and financial rationales.

Rockland’s resident population was gradually reduced by releasing stabilized patients, shortening inpatient stays and reducing admission and readmission rates. Programs were implemented to reduce reinforcement of dependency, hopelessness and other maladaptive behaviors.

By the 1970s, Rockland had fewer than 600 patients, most of whom had serious mental illnesses that were not able to be treated with outpatient-based programs.

In 1985, the Rockland Campus Plan was formalized, a three-phased effort to modernize and right-size Rockland State Hospital’s campus. Many of the buildings on the campus were in poor condition, requiring major rehabilitation. By the late 1990s, with much of Rockland underutilized or closed, the state looked to sell off 350 acres, keeping only the adult inpatient facilities, the Kline Institute and the Children’s Psychiatric Center.

JPMorgan Chase expressed interest in January 2017 in acquiring 60 acres to erect a 150,000 square-foot data center. In the proposed deal with the city, the bank would be responsible for the cleanup and demolition of around 40 abandoned buildings. The city would launch the necessary environmental review processes in return.

JPMorgan Chase offered $7.5 million for the land. A final site plan approval was granted by the city on June 14 and demolition of the majority of Rockland State Hospital began in the winter.

2 Comments

  1. Too bad those buildings couldn’t be repurposed, but at least it’s making work for some people, and maybe they were too far gone to salvage anyhow. We recently experienced a repurposing of a state hospital here in Skagit County WA; not sure if any buildings had to be demolished though. I enjoy your posts, and buy you coffees, but don’t participate in any social media.

    1. YES RIP RSH AKA RPC..IT IS BITTER BUT NOT BITTER SWEET TO SEE THESE BUILDINGS BEING DEMOLISHED…BUT MONEY TALKS AND ….WALKS…AND SO DO THE MENTALLY ILL..ALL OVER..ITS SAD…MORE AND MORE PPL ARE BECOMING MENTALLY ILL…TO THE COMMUNITY OUTSIDE RPC WAS AN EYE SORE…SO NOW THEY ARE BEING LEVELED TO THE GROUND….ALL OF THEM…
      THE DUST IS IN THE AIR!!

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