Willowbrook State School

Willowbrook State School

Willowbrook3In 1938 in a 375 acre section of Willowbrook, Staten Island, construction started on a hospital for mentally handicapped children.  When construction was completed in 1942 the buildings were converted to a United States Army Hospital named Halloren General Hospital.  In October of 1947 the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene took over the buildings renaming it the Willowbrook State School.

By 1962 the school that had been designed for 4000 became a dumping ground for mentally disabled children and swelled to over 6000.  Under staffed, the patients were locked in rooms for extended lengths of time and forced to sleep on floors covered in their own excrement.  Many of the children  were underfed and most ran the halls partial dressed or naked.  Between 1963 till 1966 medical studies were conducted on the children, infecting them with hepatitis, some by feeding them the stool of other infected patients. 

In 1971 funding to the school was cut leading to worsening conditions.  Local newspapers and media including Geraldo Rivera, reported on the overcrowding, lack of sanitary conditions and the physical and mental abuse forced upon the disabled  children.  As a result, lawsuits were filed against New York State which would lead to reforms many years later.

In 1974 the area was renamed the Staten Island Developmental Center and in 1983 a plan to close the school was announced.  The last child reportedly left the school in September of 1987.

In 1987 Andre Rand who had worked in the school, killed and buried has victim Jennifer Schweiger on the abandoned school grounds.

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The College of Staten Island took over 200 acres of the area in 1993 and a few original buildings and smokestack still stand on the campus.  The remaining area is still owned by the New York Department of Mental Hygiene  and some of the original building still lay rotting and abandoned  till this day.

Students of the College of Staten Island have reported seeing figures moving through the shadows, strange noises and calls and unsettling feelings. Having went to College of Staten Island I can say that at night walking to your car you did sometimes get the creepy feeling of something watching and following you.

Growing up on Staten Island everyone always heard the stories of satanists chasing and killing people in the woods surrounding Willowbrook.  I have also heard stories of people being pushed, yelled at and shadowy figures chasing people from the buildings.  A story told to me was of a dark figure following someone to their house, and the person watched it from their window as the thing stood in front of their home till the sun came up.

I personally believe many of the stories and feelings that came from this area can be attributed to the child killings of Andre Rand and the fear that sometimes monsters really do exist.  As for the stories of people being yelled at in the darkness or chased from the abandoned buildings that can probably be attributed to crazy homeless people. 

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