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The Closing of Hudson River State Hospital After 140 Years of Service

The Hudson River State Hospital is a High Victorian Gothic architecture located in Poughkeepsie, New York. It started its operation in 1871 to house the mentally ill of the state. The Hudson River State Hospital was constructed during the period of mental hygiene and had experienced long years of national prominence under the management of industry experts.

Moral Treatment in Hudson River State Hospital

The Hudson River State Hospital was not the first institution in New York catering to the mentally ill. The first one was New York State Lunatic Asylum, which opened in 1843 in Utica, and the Willard Asylum in 1865 in Hayt Corners. However, the Hudson River State Hospital was the first to discard the word “asylum” but rather chose the term “hospital” in its name. This is part of the therapeutic goal of the psychiatric facility and usage of moral treatment.

In the early 2000s, it was named Hudson River Psychiatric Center when the Roosevelts owned the property at one point.

The Slow Closure

In the 1950s, the Hudson River State Hospital attained a surge of patient flow, about 6,000 mentally disturbed, before gradually experiencing a 60-year drop. There are many contributing factors to its closure in 2012, such as high operating costs, advancements in medical treatments, changes in behavior patterns of the people, etc.

In 2000, the upper campus section of the Hudson River State Hospital was still open, although the lower part was hanging by a thread. One by one, different departments would ease up, as the decomposition of the organization would happen within 12 years. In 2003, the lower campus was eventually closed, and the remaining operations were transferred to the upper campus of the hospital.

The Historical Museum of the Hudson River State Hospital was moved in the Cleaveland Home in 2004, occupying six rooms of pictures, artifacts, and information about the psychiatric facility. In the same year, Building 51 was included in the list of the Most Endangered Landmarks and put on the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Hudson River State Hospital

The Mental Health Office announced the plans of the closure of HRSH in 2011, and 150 patients were transferred to Rockland Psychiatric Center, which also took over the outpatient treatment programs as well as the three in-patient wards of the Hudson River State Hospital. The state of New York has saved millions of dollars upon the closure of HRSH, but approximately 375 lost their jobs during the process.

The historical Hudson River State Hospital closed officially in January 2012. A few buildings on the grounds remained in use after the closure. For example, the Hillcrest House, Clearwater, and the Alliance served as the crisis and halfway houses until 2016.

Nowadays, the Hudson River State Hospital is a quiet and abandoned place. You can no longer hear the screams and usual sounds of a psychiatric facility. Police officers are patrolling the grounds in their unmarked vehicles, apprehending and arresting trespassers and violators. A major concern is safety and preserving the condition of the structures, and preventing crimes from happening within the premises.


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