September 4, 2012

Grey Hill Jail

Grey Hill Jail, Opened in 1918 & Closed 1934

An inspection of a proposed site for a Grey Hill Jail was made on July 11, 1917, pursuant to the receipt of an application, dated June 30, 1917, of Commissioner B. G. Lewis, of the Department of Correction of the city of New York, for the approval of this site by the State Commissioner of Health, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 510 of the Laws of 1916. 
The proposed site, known as the farm, is located in a County, Near the station of the main line of the Erie railroad, 55 miles northwest of Jersey City. The nearest village is about 2 miles distant. Approximately One-third of the area consists of a moderately steep side hill near the top of which it's proposed to locate the principal buildings of the institution, the remaining, Two-thirds of the area being low, level land, devoted mainly to pasturage. Through this lower level two streams pass, known as Seeley creek, and the main ditch, respectively, which unite beyond the northerly boundary of the property to form Cromline creek, which in turn joins the Otterkill near some town then to form Moodna creek, which is a tributary to the Hudson River. 
A detailed description of the site with reference to the character of the various soils found thereon, is given in the report of Mr. William Goldsmith, construction engineer, submitted with the application of Commissioner Lewis. The farm contains 257 acres and is bounded on the northwest by the Lehigh and Hudson railroad, and on the southwest by the main line of the Erie, while the branch of the Erie passes through the property. The station of the Erie railroad is at the southwest corner of the property. From a sanitary standpoint the site seems to be well adapted for an institution, the high ground being suitable for various buildings and the low ground for truck gardens or pasture. 














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August 31, 2012

Ravenloft Castle

Ravenloft Castle 
 Sitting high on a dark hillside outside of a small town in Upstate New York, The Ravenloft Castle looks like it escaped from the pages of Grimm’s fairy tales. Complete with Gothic windows, turrets, towers, steep parapeted roofs, crumbling walls, and a courtyard overgrown with shrubs and trees The Ravenloft Castle has been a landmark and a source of stories both real and romantic for almost 100 years. The design of the castle is thought to have been inspired by late nineteenth century interpretations of medieval European castles constructed in Scotland.
The castle had 36 rooms and legend passed down from generation to generation says that each room had steam heat and electricity long before any home in the township had them. The roofing slate came from England, the marble for the floors, fireplace and staircases from Italy and the iron gates from France. The fireplace in the reception room was valued at over $5000 in 1910. Gold leaf was used to cover it.
Construction on the castle was begun in the early years of the First World War, and ceased in 1924, three years after the owner’s death in 1921. Never fully completed, the building represents an impressive example of the romanticized medievalism that emerged in American culture at the turn of the twentieth century.
Buildings on the property include the castle, tall ornate iron gates with stone piers, a one-lane stone bridge on the service road, several "service" buildings along the Road and a farm complex in the southwest corner.











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Building 25

 Early history of the site
BLDG25 stands on land that was a farm owned by the Creed family. A railroad which ran from Long Island City to Bethpage had a stop close to the campus.

In 1870, the New York State Legislature purchased a part of the Creed farm and a parcel of an adjacent National Rifle Association range to house the New York State National Guard. Several international rifle tournaments and technical improvements resulting in longer range bullets resulted in numerous complaints from surrounding residents. As a result the range was abandoned until 1912.

History of the hospital
In 1912, the Farm Colony of Brooklyn State Hospital was opened, with 32 patients, by the Lunacy Commission of New York State, reflecting a trend towards sending the swelling population of urban psychiatric patients to the fresh air of outlying areas. By 1918, BLDG25 own census had swollen to 150, housed in the abandoned National Guard barracks. By 1959, the hospital housed 7,000 inpatients. BLDG25 is described as a crowded, understaffed institution in Susan Sheehan's Is There No Place On Earth For Me? (1982), a biography of a patient pseudonymously called Sylvia Frumkin. Dr. Lauretta Bender, child neuropsychiatrist, has been reported as practicing there in the 1950s and '60s.

The hospital's census had declined by the early 1960s, however, as the introduction of new medications, along with other factors, led to the deinstitutionalization of many psychiatric patients around the world. In 1975, the land in Glen Oaks formerly used to raise food for the hospital was opened to the public as the Queens County Farm Museum. Another part of the campus in Glen Oaks was developed into the Queens Children's Psychiatric Center. In 2004, the remaining part of the campus land in Glen Oaks was developed into the Glen Oaks public school campus, including The Queens High School of Teaching. By 2006, other parts of the  campus had been sold and the inpatient census was down to 470.There are several disused buildings on the property, including the long-abandoned Building 25









The Convent of Mercy

The Convent of Mercy 

The Community of N.C.E.P is the oldest indigenous Religious Order in the Episcopal Church, founded in 1865 in New York City. Contemplative and Benedictine in ethos, The Sisters of the N.C.E.P center their life together in corporate worship, personal discipline and study, and simple work with mission flowing outward from this stable anchor.

The Sisterhood of N.C.E.P was founded in New York City in 1865, centered in several active ministries. Property was purchased in Upstate NY in 1873. The Mother Foundress moved her office there, intending that the site become a quiet place for the training of the community's novice sisters and a haven for aging sisters. Mother Foundress saw the completion of a monastic church in 1890, and at the turn of the century a convent was built which could hold up to 40 women. By 1900 the convent in Upstate NY, became the operational hub of an Order with multiple institutions throughout the greater New York area as well as missions in the Midwest and Tennessee.

In 1983 the Eastern, Western and Southern Provinces became fully separate and autonomous and began pursuit of their own particular expressions of the ideals of the founding sisters. The N.C.E.P remained established in the old convent and
was often referred to simply as “The NY Sisters.”

By the middle of the twentieth century the sisters began to struggle with increasing governmental requirements for institutional charitable work versus the time commitment of living the full religious life. To which was our principal call? Was our first call to the corporal works of mercy which clearly had established the legitimacy of our founding sisters' call in the eyes of the Church? Or was our primary call to single-minded devotion to God first, with all else following?

As the village surrounding the convent in Upstate NY changed from its original rural character to a more urban population of the greater New York City metropolitan area, the Motherhouse there was no longer the place of quiet and devotion that Mother Foundress had envisioned. With an invitation for sisters to come to the Diocese of Albany in 2000, The NY Sisters saw the hand of God beckoning them to return to the original vision of mission and ministry flowing out of a heart filled only with God.

Once more the sisters are situated in a rural environment, seeking renewal in the Benedictine way of balancing prayer, manual labor, and the study of God's ways.







August 30, 2012

Brandreth Pill Factory

A native of the English city of Leeds who was raised in Liverpool, Benjamin Brandreth took over the patent medicine business started by his grandfather in the 1820s. He pioneered the use of advertising with testimonials to the effectiveness of the pills' treatment of the blood impurities thought to create disease at the time, and developed a growing presence in the English and American markets. In 1835 he moved to New York with his family.

His success continued, and the following year he moved to Ossining, then known as Sing Sing, to acquire all the land the remaining buildings sit on, and build a factory. By 1837 he was working from two buildings, one of which is the Greek Revival building that still stands in the cluster of buildings east of the street at the south end of the site. It may have been designed by Calvin Pollard, who built two houses in Ossining for Brandreth (neither extant) during this period as well as St. Paul's Episcopal Church downtown. An early engraving, used in his ads, depicts the building as having three stories and a cupola. It was right on the shore of the Hudson.

Brandreth may have found Sing Sing not only a beautiful place to do business but a strategic one as well. Agricultural produce shipped down to its active river port could be used as the vegetable base of the pills, and those pills could then be shipped down to New York City. At the time, there were also mining and quarrying operations, particularly at the new Sing Sing Prison, on the riverside, but Brandreth's manufacture of finished goods at his facility made his the first true industrial facility on the Ossining waterfront.
A color illustration of a naked child and a dog seen from the rear, sitting on a small pier on a riverbank with clothes at the right. In the distance are a sailing ship and a rocky mountain. The top of the image has the inscription "Allcock's Porous Plasters Are The Best" in red and black lettering. Smaller, curved lettering at the bottom reads "Brandreth's Pills" and the ship's sail says "Brandreth's Pills Purely Vegetable".
An 1885 ad for the pills and plasters

After an 1838 trip down the Mississippi River to sell pills, the business grew even more. Brandreth became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1840, and became active in the politics of the growing village. He served as its president for three years, and later was elected to two separate terms in the State Senate. In 1848, he purchased an interest in fellow English American Thomas Allcock's Porous Plasters and began developing a facility to manufacture them on an old mill site further up the river. The Hudson River Railroad was being built through Sing Sing that year, further extending the company's reach and filling in the riverfront to provide a stable, straight surface for tracks. The latter opened more land for future building in the process.

The factory's expansion served it well for the next two decades. It continued to produce 1.2 million boxes of pills annually, each of which retailed for 25 cents ($10 in modern dollars). The pills were well-known enough that Herman Melville mentioned them in Moby-Dick and Edgar Allan Poe devoted part of his story "Some Words with a Mummy" to a fanciful discussion of what their ingredients might be. P.T. Barnum gave Brandreth sardonic recognition in his book Humbugs of the World for his promotional skills. Back in Ossining, Brandreth helped establish two banks, and was on the founding board of Dale Cemetery, still the community's largest. If the company had wanted to expand during this period, the economic pressures of the Civil War prevented it from doing so.

Seven years after the end of the war, in 1872, a fire destroyed many of the buildings, including Brandreth's first manufacturing facility. The rebuilding put up most of the surviving buildings, as well as the more modern facility on an old mill site at the north end of the property: the current main building. Brandreth wanted to incorporate the newest technology into his new buildings, and so the storage facility midway between the two complexes was one of the first in Westchester to use corrugated iron while the main building had some of the first Otis elevators.

One morning in early 1880, Brandreth collapsed and died shortly after leaving his office. His son Franklin took over management. During the later years of the 19th century and the early 20th, the factory began to diversify its operations in response to increasing federal regulation of the patent-medicine industry. Among the new products were ammunition-box liners for the military during World War I.
A black-and-white photograph taken from the corner of a room with tables on which small objects are piled, some in containers and others loose. In the middle of the room women in white aprons are seated around the tables, apparently at work.
Women packing pills at factory, ca. 1900

Franklin Brandreth stepped down in 1928 and was replaced by his grandson Fox Brandreth Connor. By then the domestic market for the pills it had once manufactured in abundance was gone. Of the factory's earlier products, only porous plaster remained, and that was only made in winter. The company was making nail polish, mannequins, cell forms for bulletproof fuel tanks and the Havahart line of non-lethal animal traps.

In 1940 the company sold the buildings at the southern end of the property to the Gallowhur corporation, which used them to make insect repellent and suntan lotion. The rights to the pill formula were also sold off after World War II.[3] Brandreth's company, under the Allcock name, continued its manufacturing operations in the 1870s complex until 1979. They were later used by the Filex Corporation, a maker of steel office furniture.

Eventually they became vacant again. In the 2000s a local developer proposed the Hidden Cove on the Hudson project for the main building area. A total of 132 new housing units would be created, 28 of which would be in the main building. The developers hope that they can obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the completed units

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