A Brief History: Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital is located in Brentwood, New York close to the Sagtikos Parkway. The original buildings were constructed in 1930 on about 1900 acres of property. Throughout the years many other buildings were built at the Pilgrim State property. Like many other psychiatric centers on Long Island, Pilgrim State was opened because of overcrowding in facilities located in New York City and Brooklyn. Overcrowding of these facilities in the 1920’s led way to the creation of new state hospitals thus alleviating the stress that was being placed on city facilities.
When Pilgrim State first opened it housed about 12,000 people. Additional buildings were added throughout the years allowing the hospital to house almost 15,000 patients at its peak. Some of the buildings on the property included a theatre, bakery, power plant, Laundromat, its own medical facilities, farmhouses, underground tunnels, a cemetery, a water tower, and patient living quarters as well as staff housing. Like many of the hospitals at the time Pilgrim State was self-sufficient and considered to be a tight knit community
Pilgrim State housed patients with various degrees of mental illnesses, tuberculosis, war veterans, patients who could not care for themselves and anyone else who was deemed unacceptable by the normal standards of society. Pilgrim State started out as a farm colony or a poorhouse. A farm colony or poorhouse was a tax funded residential institution where people who could not financially support themselves were sent. Some people did not have a say about being sent to a poor house. People including children, the elderly and even criminals were housed there.
In the late 1950’s there was a huge shift in the treatment of mental illness. Treatments during this time were very aggressive and often violent as well. These treatments included different forms of electro shock and hydrotherapy and even pre-frontal lobotomy. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the de-institutionalization of those diagnosed with mental illness led to the closing of many of the state’s psychiatric hospitals closed their doors.
Although many institutions closed, Pilgrim remained opened and actually took in patients from the institutions. The perception though that mental health care hospitals were no longer needed force the hospital to discontinue many of their services and in turn to close many of it’s building due to lack of patients.
The grounds of Pilgrim state today are scattered with the remains of buildings no longer in use. One main building though has remained open and is still in use today.
Haunted History: People claim to hear patients screaming or yelling from inside the closed buildings. Other claims include shadow people being seen inside the closed buildings and outside the buildings as well. Loud banging sounds can also be heard in and outside of the buildings.