Abandoned in 1996, the haunting institution of Letchworth Village still stands as a monument to "Those Who Shall Not be Forgotten."

Nothing demonstrates the fluidity of society’s moral standards than to look at past treatment of those with psychological or physical problems. While mental institutions started out as an honorable attempt to provide for those who were unable to support themselves for one reason or another, for the most part they started to devolve into something less than caring.

Letchworth Village, near New York City, is a prime example of this decline. Founded in 1911, at its peak, the Village consisted of 130 buildings spread out over 4 square miles. Inspired by Monticello, Letchworth Village was to be set up like a village. Those who were able to work were taught skills such as farming, allowing the Village to be self-sufficient. Unlike other institutions, instead of placing everyone in large, overpopulated buildings, residents were placed in smaller homes, and broken up by gender and level of functioning. These buildings were not to exceed 2 stories, or 70 residents.

While the intentions of Letchworth Village were good, what usually happens to institutions started to occur. Demand was higher than capacity, and the buildings started to become overpopulated, while staffing and budgets remained the same. Additionally, Letchworth was founded with another purpose in mind. Since most of the children were abandoned, or parent-less, they had no one who was able to consent to treatment for them.

Doctors at Letchworth took advantage of this loophole, and utilized the children in their care as test subjects for various medical treatments. It was at Letchworth where the first polio vaccine was tested, and when that was proved successful, further children were exposed to the vaccine.

Letchworth Village was closed in 1996, after a slow decline. Their population started to decreased as institutionalization fell out of favor as opposed to the idea of integrating the handicapped into society. Additionally, thanks to the investigations conducted by Geraldo Rivera into Willowbrook, and various institutions in New York State, the poor living conditions at Letchworth, previously concealed by staff, were finally revealed.

In 2011, Ghost Adventures investigated Letchworth Village, and found it haunted. Reports have been made of sightings of previous residents, strange noises, and mysterious lights.

Today, Letchworth Village is currently abandoned. Part of the grounds are used by a local school, but the rest of the buildings are in a state of decay, and are in a state of limbo between being destroyed for condos, or being restored and turned into recreation facilities. The buildings are off limits, but the grounds are open to the public during daytime hours.

 

[Contributed By NY Shadow Chasers]

 

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