The Monticello Manor

The Monticello Manor

Before you, at the end of a pitted drive, stands a large abandoned building. It's arms stretch around you, its purpose is not immediately evident. Though it must have once been of some importance to warrant its place upon this bluff overlooking the town below. Red brick walls stand dark against the foliage which surrounds them. Their color of rusted iron, or dried blood. Somewhere down below you can hear the sound of traffic, passing cars and people walking alongside the through-way, but you cannot see anything beyond the wall of trees which have overtaken the property. Though just hundreds of feet from businesses and sidewalks, you stand a world away. Above it all. Removed. On a mountainside with the decomposing remnant of the Monticello Manor.

As it is with many abandoned places; you are looking at the end of a story. And as you piece together the events that led to this point in time, you unravel a tale told in reverse - Traveling from end to beginning. The particular ending before you isn't a happy one, unfortunately they tend not to be. This is a bitter end, one which was brought about by negligence, not just of a building, but of the people entrusted to it.

The Monticello Manor, of Monticello, NY, ended its days as an outdated assisted-living facility, a dangerous one at that, forced into closure by numerous outstanding health violations. Years of oversight culminated in 2008 when a rampant bedbug infestation coupled with rapidly-spreading mold forced the state of NY to issue an emergency evacuation of the property, giving the elderly residents an incredibly short 48 hour window to relocate. Due to the rapid vacating of the facility a majority of personal belongings remained behind, left to molder away with the building after it was shuttered.

Long before this place was made infamous by its gross negligence, before it became used as an example of our questionable eldercare system, the manor was something else entirely – The Monticello Hospital. Opened in 1924, it was a small but proud establishment, one worthy of its vantage point over the neighborhood below. Back then these hills were manicured, almost completely bare of the forest which now claims it. Long ago you could stand at the entrance of the building and see for miles, and from many places in town below you could see the hospital. Vigilant upon its precipice.

Through the years the hospital continuously upgraded and modernized, eventually growing two large wings which far exceeded the size of the original hospital building. By the close of the 1970s however, municipalities saw fit to consolidate the Monticello Hospital with a neighboring clinic, merging them into one unified institution. Within just a few years an assisted living facility moved into the vacant hospital campus, re-branding the grounds as the 'Monticello Manor'. From there a slow downward spiral began to form, consisting of health violations, buildings violations, and a continuous flood of bad press reporting it all.

The fluidity of time is a running theme throughout our work - Some places simply hold onto the years differently than others. It's a bit difficult to express in written word, but if you were ever to find yourself in a place like the Monticello Manor, you would certainly understand. If ever there was a place which felt devoid of time altogether, this was it. Walking through the shattered glass threshold was like walking into a limbo. Folded linens, magazines placed upon end tables, even walkers and canes remained as they were when these wards were still in use. Undisturbed, frozen with eerie lifelessness. The sole element within the manor which eluded to the passing of time was the ever-present mold and decay which it brought. At one time it was contained within the walls, but after the hospitals closure it was let free to roam the halls as it wished. Now it was everywhere, writhing its way across ceilings, walls, floors, and everything in-between. We had to be extremely careful traversing the building due to a layer of thick, invisible slime which had come to coat large spans of walls and hallway floors. Though the blackening passages and bedchambers of the shuttered hospital may have seemed lifeless at first glace, it became apparent there were quite the opposite. The very atmosphere around us was alive.


The humidity in the air rusted away most metal surfaces, like the grills on this cassette stereo.

  Mold, slowly freeing itself from the sheet-rock.

 A suitcase of personal belongings and folded clothing, discarded in a corner.

 The stepped entrance as it appeared in the early days of the hospital.

The staircase remains to this day, though greatly obscured by a thick wood-line.

A ransacked bedroom.

The hospital featured a small chapel. A room which remained mostly unaffected by the rot, save for one peeling wall.

The dining hall, covered in artwork.

Just off from the dining hall was found the kitchen, a surprisingly large space given the modest size of the facility.

We returned to the manor nearly a decade after our last visit, finding ourselves in the area on other business. Though we stopped by out of personal curiosity, to see how the grounds had fared through the years, we thought it appropriate to capture a few images with our phones to showcase how bad the conditions had become. Not only had the rot destroyed entire ceilings, but the building had been gutted and cleared of not just personal belonging but most furniture and many fixtures. What was once a slowly decomposing time capsule is now little more than a hollowed out collection of walls.

Off and away from the manor proper also stand a collection of annex buildings which sprawl out into the woods. Far older in construction than the wings of the assisted living facility, these structures are clearly leftovers from the days that this property served as a hospital. Though mostly empty, they serve as intriguing relics from the past life of these grounds.

Months later we paid one last visit during a light snowfall. These will probably be the last photos we ever take of the old hospital and grounds, as the property has been receiving interest from numerous developers within the past couple years. Sooner than later these walls will fall.