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Edgewood State Hospital

Edgewood State Hospital

A Brief History: There is very little that is documented on Edgewood Hospital. There are gaps in the time line, and some information is impossible to find.

Built in the early 1940’s, and designed by William E. Haugaard (who also designed Pilgrim Psych Center). The U.S. Army took over construction from the WPA (Works Progress Administration), and they leased it for use as a POW camp and a tuberculosis hospital. The hospital was also used to try and ease the transition of shell-shocked war veterans back to “normal lives.” The hospital along with 60+ other buildings were named Mason General Hospital, dedicated on June 22, 1944 to the memory of Brig. Gen. Charles Field Mason; who had a distinguished career in the Medical Corps, before passing away in 1922. The last patient left on December 20, 1946 when the hospital closed. The U.S. Army’s lease had been terminated, and the hospital returned to the State.

During World War 2, the War Department had taken over the entire Edgewood facility along with 2 other buildings (81,82, and 83). The buildings were called Mason General Hospital and were used as a psychiatric hospital devoted to treating battle-traumatized soldiers. John Huston, who was a famed filmmaker, received a special commission in the U.S. Army during WW2, made a documentary at Mason called “Let There Be Light.” The movie showed the effects of war on mental health. The U.S. Army confiscated the tape, because they didn’t want the public to see soldiers hurt. They wanted society to think of soldiers as “grinning, self-assured victors.” Due to a wildfire of controversy, the movie had not been seen by the public until 1981.

Due to all the improvements in medicine, decentralization, and the changing beliefs of the mental health system, most of the Edgewood Hospital was closed in 1969. All of the remaining buildings closed their doors for good in 1971. People who explored the hospital after it closed had described it as a place frozen in time. Everyone had just up and left. Wire, tools, surgical equipment, patient records, furniture, and other objects were all left behind.

In the 1980’s there were a list of fires set in the buildings by vandals and partying teens. With the roof partially missing from the fires and the buildings graffiti filled and partially demolished by trespassers, the State decided the buildings needed to come down.

On January 30, 1989, a demolition crew began their work on tearing down the first of eight buildings where tens of thousands of patients once lived. They demolished building 103 on that day, which once housed the hospital’s narcotics unit. Demolishing the buildings will be a long and tedious process, because the buildings were built in the 1940’s and were filled with asbestos.

Finally on August 16, 1989, the tallest building on Long Island was demolished, building 102 (the main building). It is said that on a clear day while standing on the roof of the building, you were able to see the New York City Skyline. Also if you were on either the north or south shore beaches you were able to see building 102. The nurses dormitory (140), the remnants of the gym, church, movie theater and kitchen (105) were all taken down in 1989. This was the largest state-owned demolition job ever with the total bill being between $11-13 million. The powerhouse and south wing building (103) were still standing, awaiting further funds to be destroyed. In the meantime while awaiting funds many teenagers would go into the abandoned buildings to explore, and every so often someone would get injured. The state decided before someone gets extremely injured or dies to demolish the remaining buildings. Within the next year they were down, costing an estimated $20 million for the total demolishing of the property and removal of debris.

Listed below are some of the buildings and the uses of them at Edgewood State hospital:

  • Building 102: Built in 1940, with a height of 229 feet and 13 floors, was used for the infirmary, acute medical and surgical, library and dental offices.

  • Building 103: Built in 1941, with a height of 51 feet and 3 floors, was used for female reception, tubercular and diabetic center, occupational therapy, and the l mortuary.

  • Building 104: Built in 1941, with a height of 51 feet and 3 floors, was used for male reception, drug rehabilitation, and occupational therapy.

  • Building 105: Built in 1941, with a height of 25 feet and 1 floor, was used for the kitchen and dining room.

  • Building 106: Built in 1945, used by the Army, had only1 floor, was used for a recreation building.

  • Building 107: Built in 1945, used by the Army, had only 1 floor, was used as a gymnasium.

  • Building 108: Built in 1945, used by the Army, had only 1 floor, was used as a chapel.

  • Building 135: Built in 1942, with a height of 177 feet and 3 floors, was used for the power plant, and LIRR spur and siding.

  • Building 140: Built in 1941, with a height of 38 feet and 4 floors, was used for married employees building, and tubercular and continuing care.

  • Building 155: Built in 1941, with a height of 33 feet and 4 floors, was used for multi-family staff housing.

Haunted History: Even though the buildings, the staff and patients are gone, there spirits still remain at the site once called Edgewood State Hospital. Now called Edgewood Preserve, and a parkland with many trees and overgrown brush, still lies the spirits that once made up these grounds. There have been reports of people hearing screams in the woods when no one is around. Also people have claimed to see misty figures in the woods that appear and disappear within an instant. There have also been claims that when you stand in the spot were building 102 used to be, sometimes you can feel a cold wind blow right through you.

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