Middletown Asylum

Middletown Asylum 

When the Middletown Asylum (originally known as the New York State Homeopathic Hospital) first opened its doors to the public on April 20, 1874, it was hailed as an institution at the cutting edge of medical science and the first of its kind in the US, specializing in the application of homeopathic treatment techniques. However, medical science moves at a breakneck pace, and today homeopathic treatments are of little more than historical interest, with the theory behind them shown to be conclusively false.

The asylum existed on a 250 acre parcel of farmland in Middletown, New York. Upon opening in 1874, against the original plans, it was decided that the facility would treat women as well as men. Sixty-nine patients were treated at the hospital during its first year of operation. In 1902, the asylum had a population of over 1,200, and by 1909 several other structures had been built and the patient population expanded to 2,250. By the 50th Anniversary of the asylum's opening in 1924, a total of 12,957 patients had passed through its doors.

Up until the anniversary, Middletown's history was more-or-less identical to many other such institutions of the day, save for the morning of October 8, 1921. In the early hours, around 1am, a fire started in the attic of the main building. A night watchman was alerted by the sound of an automatic sprinkler, and arrived upstairs to find the roof already ablaze. The fire proceeded quickly, and nearly the entire asylum was lost to the flames. Fortunately, the building was evacuated successfully, and no one was harmed. The origin of the fire was never discovered - no visitors had been on that floor the previous day, and the attic was not home to electrical wiring that might have served as an ignition. A new, fireproof structure was erected on the site of the original, and became occupied in 1927.

Time marches on, and as it was with nearly all other “asylum era” facilities such as Middletown, the patient population began to decrease. Eventually the asylum stood mostly-disused, resulting in a vast majority of it being demolished. The only portion of the original structure to escape the wrecking ball was a lone wing, which came to be used a separate building on the campus in which to house violent patients. Eventually though, this too ceased to be of use, and was left vacant.

On July 12th, 2015 history repeated itself, and the last remaining fragment of the once grand asylum was consumed by mysterious flames. The fire gutted the inside of the already frail structure, and what little remained standing was razed the following day.

The last holdout of what was once a sprawling psychiatric hospital. 


The structure had seen far better days... and decades.


 A watercolor depicting the asylum gates at night.


Missing stairwell.

 The basement was full of caskets, many still in their straw-filled wooden shipping boxes.

The following video was taken many years ago, and was actually one of the final films we created before upgrading our video equipment. We are blessed to have been able to experience the old Middletown Asylum while it was still with us, and we will always be grateful for the photos and video we captured therein.



The following images are from the Middletown Fire Department's Facebook page, taken by firefighters on the scene.
 You can view their page HERE