In 1909, New York opened a newly erected facility for the aid and housing of, as the literature states, the "feeble minded and epileptics" of that state.
The place was named for William Pryor Letchworth, a key player in its creation and a noted humanitarian of the time.
To avoid creating an institutional environment, the grounds were arranged much like a college campus.
The buildings were relatively small, typically not exceeding two stories in height, and were inspired by the aesthetics of Greek architecture.
Walls of carefully hand-cut stone punctuated by arched windows and column-girded doorways could be found at every turn. Short walks across grassy lawns separated the buildings,
and the greater campus, known as Letchworth village, housed its own power plant, farmland, waste disposal and water supply. It was the first of its kind, a facility
that was all-inclusive and could operate completely isolated from the outside world.
During my research we found that even a passing mention of its name is bound to bring out ghost stories. Abandoned places, especially asylums,
are a frequent object of attentions of paranormal investigators, and Letchworth seems to be a particular favorite. Though we are not ones to delve into ghost-hunting ourselves,
we are not opposed to it as a rule. That being said, I do take issue with the manner in which more and more so-called “paranormal investigations” are performed, wherein the investigators
treat an abandoned location as a giant nighttime playground to run through with a digital audio recorder and occasionally a case of beer. Sadly, I find that television shows on the subject
have only helped to promote this attitude. What this attitude lacks, primarily, is respect - Respect for people who lived and died here, but more importantly, the people
who endured lives of unimaginable isolation and pain, tormented by the demons of their own minds that the medicine of the time was helpless to cure.
- Historical Imagery -
The following video is a complete re-make of a film we did some 2-3 years ago about this place.
The old documentary footage and audio clips are from a 1970's exposé by Geraldo Rivera.
It's titled "The Last Great Disgrace" and did wonders in bringing the blight of the mentally (and often physically) handicapped
to the eyes of the public in a dramatic way. I strongly suggest a viewing if you have not seen it.
It will certainly serve to put these kinds of places into the proper perspective.
I'm not one for rants, but as it turns out the television show Ghost Adventures just aired an episode
this passed weekend about this place. I couldn't sit through the episode in its entirety,
but what I saw of it online upset Christina and I quite a lot.
Their inability to act with any form of tact or poise, taking a place of tremendous historical value
and using its painful history for their own gain is frustrating to witness.
No matter what TV wants you to believe, Letchworth Village is not a haunted house -
it's a monument to the suffering of many nameless and helpless people, from an era not that long ago.
I'm not opposed to anyone preforming paranormal investigations there, just conduct it with some sense of dignity please.
Sorry for the venting. It can just get a bit disheartening sometimes...