Essex County Mental Hospital
November 4, 2009
Exploring a doomed site in Verona, NJ
I had driven past this place a number of times; it was close to home and on my way to/from a couple of stores. The buildings were obviously abandoned and in a state of decay. The landscaping was taking over and it intrigued me. I finally figured out that it is the site of the Essex County Mental Hospital, long since shut down and boarded up. (I encourage you to open and read the link – there’s some great history contained in it). I also learned that there is an agressive plan to tear down all of the structures and create a “passive park”. Additionally, the local police are vigilant about keeping trespassers out of the area with aggressive punishments and fines. I had to go.
The weather was holding up nicely, the leaves were mostly off the trees and I was “out and about” with the car. I parked behind some bushes and proceeded to explore.I stayed out of buildings and didn’t climb any fences. I figure that the less “hoodlum” I appeared, the better chance I’d have at being left alone.
Overview from above
Walkway behind the main building
Bird in the vines
View through a missing window
I assumed that I’d only be able to get pictures from the upper walkway, figuring that fencing would keep from getting below. I was wrong. I rounded a building and found the opening to the buildings I’d just been looking at. I also found a deer resting in the underbrush. Imagine walking quietly along a moss-covered path, in the midst of a “haunted” mental hospital, knowing that you’re probably trespassing, when something very large and noisy bolts from behind a bush 20′ away. Needless to say I was a tad bit startled. After watching the deer round the same corner I just came from, I proceeded to take pictures up close and did some more exploration.
Corner where the deer was
Through another broken window
I fell in love with these stairs
Probably the spookiest picture – imagining someone living here so many years ago
I now rounded to the backside of the buildings I’d been photographing, only to find a much different facade. It would appear that this was the front of this line of Wards, with nice porches on the front of each. This was also where I could see the most damage caused by time and teenagers.
People? I went to find out.
Yes, there (with permission) for a photo shoot
I always find it sad to see older structures being torn down. I think of the labor and materials that went into creating these walls and now they would become just so much rubble in the landfill. I would hope that somehow there would be a way of salvaging parts of the buildings, such as the stone steps that I like so much. But I assume that due to cost and time restraints, it will all come down into one heap.