This is another sad video of a building at Letchworth Village.
Letchworth Village was a residential treatment facility for physically, mentally, or emotionally-disabled adults and children in Thiells, New York, the facility opened in 1911, and was permanently closed in 1996.
This video is of Stewart Hall, which was designed and dedicated as a community building and schoolhouse, but which may have served as a boys' dormitory at some point. It looks like it was a beautiful building at one time, but one with a sad history.
Stewart Hall was named after William Rhinelander Stewart, the President of the New York State Board of Charities while Letchworth Village was being planned and during its earliest days of operation. He was a staunch early supporter of the project and the Chairman of the Site Committee that planned the original facility.
Also designated as Building 2, Stewart Hall was designed and and intended to be a school and assembly center in 1917, and dedicated in 1919. Multiple sources have told me that it was converted to a boys' dormitory to deal with severe overcrowding, however, with dates ranging from the 1930's to the 1960's. Others claim this isn't true and that the building was never a dormitory. A former staff member who worked at Letchworth Village when it shut down in 1996 has told me that it was not a dormitory at that time.
It's very possible that all of the sources are telling the truth based on when they worked or lived at Letchworth Village. A 1944 report by a commission established by Governor Thomas Dewey noted on Page 39 that as early as World War II, children were being housed in buildings at Letchworth Village that were not designed nor intended to be used as dormitories. It's entirely possible that Stewart Hall also was used as a dormitory at some point or another, and then reverted to its original purpose when new cottages were built.
Some sources have told me that as many as 70 patients were crowded into each dorm room in Stewart Hall at one point, neglected, underfed, and inadequately supervised due to underfunding.
The problem wasn't that the staff were uncaring. The problem was that the facility was severely underfunded and understaffed. Nurses and attendants had workloads that made it impossible to give the children the care they needed.
Ironically, there also have been periods in the institution's history when some dormitories were severely overcrowded, while other dorms stood empty and unused because the state hadn't budgeted enough money to even minimally staff them. In other words, during some time periods, overcrowding at Letchworth Village was due to a shortage of buildings; and during other periods, it was due to a lack of staff to make use of dormitory buildings that were empty.
There were plans to rehabilitate this building as a community center at one time, but a fire on December 6, 2006 pretty much put an end to that idea. It was a huge fire to which more than 30 local fire companies responded.
Stewart Hall is now one of the few buildings at Letchworth Village that's entirely behind a fence. It's structurally unstable and contaminated with asbestos. It's also widely-believed by the local residents to be haunted, which occasionally leads thrill-seeking youngsters and paranormal investigators to risk life and limb by going inside the building anyway.
This was a difficult video to shoot for many reasons, includings the essential sadness of the building's history. The steel roof rafters also played havoc with the drone's compass, and the heavily-overgrown vegetation made it hard to get clear shots.
I also was trying to keep my altitude as low as possible because although the location isn't in controlled airspace, there's a heliport nearby whose proximity warranted some extra caution.
I wanted to get Stewart Hall on video, however, before it's either knocked down or collapses on its own. This once-beautiful building is now a sad part of history that needs to be documented.
The screen shots in the gallery that follows are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license (CC BY-SA). In other words, you are free to use them pursuant to the terms of the license.
Special thanks to Idri and Mother Rita for setting me straight and correcting me with regard to the history and other facts surrounding Letchworth Village.
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