NY Farm Colony & the Cropsey Legend

NY Farm Colony is located in Staten Island. It was a poorhouse, a government run facility to support and provide housing for the dependent or needy. The Farm Colony was abandoned in 1975. After sitting empty for so many years, the Farm Colony will get a second life. 5 of the ruin buildings will be rehabilitated and turned into senior housing for people 55 years and older, commercial space, green space, and parking. It will be called Landmark Colony. Some of the units will be set aside for affordable housing. One ruin, the men’s dormitory will be a stabilized ruin and the others will be demolished. The condition is so bad in some of the buildings they can’t be preserved.

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The Colony was founded in 1829 by the Richmond County government. When Staten Island became a part of the city in 1898 the city took responsibility over the facility. In 1915 the Farm Colony merged with Seaview Hospital and the purpose was to treat tuberculosis. Seaview hospital is now a city run nursing home by the same of Sea View Farms.

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In 1924, the city’s Homes for Dependents agency took over supervising the site and lifted the requirement that all the residents had to work. Most of the work went into farming fruits and veggies that met the colony’s needs as well as other city institutions.

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I admit, we get a little lazy when it comes to getting to some boroughs. Even though Staten Island is right over the Verrazano Bridge from us, it still seems like a long trek. We took the bus to Staten Island and summoned Uber. We really hate the fact that we had to use them and prefer supporting taxis but there are no taxis on Staten Island. Uber was convenient and cut our commute by 20 minutes. We gained access to this place through one of my favorite city sites: untappedcities. This was an an amazing tour. You can read about the tour here. I even spotted Vic and myself in some of the pics they posted.

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We didn’t pay much attention to what they were talking about since we were busy running around taking pictures. The designers of the future development came along and explained the plans of this place. The architecture is incredible. I wish they still made beautiful stone and brick  buildings like these.

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Looking up the elevator shaft.

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Looking down the elevator shaft.

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The development plans to incorporate the natural woods into the surroundings. They will remove all the non native species and the green space will be open to the public. The facility is located by the Greenbelt, one of Staten Island’s public parklands.

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It was really cool walking along the ruins, old roads, and overgrown vegetation.

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The Farm Colony has a more sinister tale too – the Cropsey killer. There’s a documentary on Netflix about it called, Cropsey directed by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio who grew up on Staten Island. They wanted to find out if it was a legend was true or not.

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The origin of Cropsey goes back to Colonial times. We can say this is New York’s Boogeyman. The name comes from Jasper Francis Cropsey, an American landscape artists from Staten Island. He’s buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The tale is about a maniac who’s in the woods carrying an axe. The most common tale is that it’s a crazy doctor or judge that became disfigured in a prank and goes into the woods with an axe to get revenge on the campers.

In the 1970s and 1980s the urban legend came to life when children kept disappearing.

Andre Rand, born Frank Rushan in 1944 is the modern day legend of Cropsey. He was a custodian at Willowbrook State School which is near by the farm colony, a place where the disabled were sent. They say he camped in the area and Greenbelt forest when the facility shut. Willowbrook use to be where the Staten Island College is today.

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The first kid to go missing was Alice Pereira in 1972, 5 years old. She vanished after playing with her brother. The second to go missing was Holly Ann Hughes in 1981. The last to go missing was Jennifer Schweiger in 1987. Her body was found by a firefighter when he found a small foot in the earth buried in a shallow grave.

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Most the bodies haven’t been found. Rand was never charged for the island murders but he is serving a kidnapping sentence and is the top suspect in the Cropsey disappearances. He is eligible for parole in 2037.

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27 thoughts on “NY Farm Colony & the Cropsey Legend

  1. I saw “Cropsey” before I first began visiting New York on a regular basis, and I admit I was skeptical—I couldn’t believe there was such a densely wooded area in the city. Then I saw the woods around the Bronx Zoo, The Cloisters, and Staten Island , and was blown away by the remoteness of these places. You could be just a mile or two from a busy city street, but the woods seem to absorb all the sound so it’s deadly quiet at times, and very lonely if you’re walking by yourself. Brrr! You guys are lucky to be able to walk together through these places. I’m sure the architecture is lovely, but it looks like the set to a horror movie. I can almost imagine a guy in a mask carrying an axe stepping out of one of those dark rooms. 😉

    I hear ya about Uber. There’s a local cab company I always call for rides to the airport, because they’re so dependable and friendly. Sometimes the owner himself will pick me up, and he always complains about Uber cutting into his business. They don’t have to be licensed like his cabs, they don’t carry special insurance, and the drivers don’t receive benefits or a living wage like what he pays. The problem is that (and I don’t say this to him) it’s hard to find a taxi in residential neighborhoods. You have to call a cab and wait an hour or more sometimes for them to come to your house, or you have to walk to a taxi stand, if you’re lucky enough to live near one. (I don’t. All the taxi stands are downtown by the hotels and the convention center.) Uber is also cheap and fast. I took Uber cars both in New York and San Diego, and I got everywhere quickly and for less than $20. The taxi companies charge a lot more than that, and if you’re on a budget, it’s hard to argue about Uber’s prices.

    1. Someone told us Lyft is a bit more ethical. Not sure. We tested uber for places where it’s harder to get a cab. I personally don’t feel safe. I know its probably ok and most people I know have been fine. But it doesn’t sit well with me when I read – if something happens they aren’t responsible because it’s a contract worker. It was $17 for us.

      We walked to Joe & Pat’s a pizza/pasta place we like. So hilly. Man, same areas so suburban. When we got to Staten Island I said – you see why I call your outer borough folks boonies. We don’t have suburbs in Manhattan. 10 years in Brooklyn and I still rag on it. I also joke let me rag on it. All Manhattan is now is the sell out so let me have this.

  2. many many thanks for being my tourguide! that was so interesting to read… and I like your photos… specially the one with the lonesome lamp on the ceiling and the elevator shaft… it gives it an extra special effect…

  3. What an interesting place, with so much history. Your photos were haunting. It’s so sad when places that are so architecturally interesting end up deteriorating past rehabilitation. And so much more tragic that the missing children have never been found.

  4. Very cool, we’ve been wanting to go and find some derelict buildings for some time.
    I like the shots of the interior, especially the generators (?) and the view through the hole in the wall. Good stuff!

    1. Hi! Check this guys blog out – He’s a bit closer to you guys. I love his stuff. He’s in Ireland.

      https://edmooneyphoto.wordpress.com/

      Not sure what the equipment is. This place is creepy but people get in anyway and on our tour there were a lot of people that climbed over the fence. Wish they turned it into a haunted house at Halloween like the abandoned jail in Philly.

  5. This is very interesting ! I enjoy some Urbex photography from time to time but I don’t think I will be brave enough to go in forbidden places to take pictures :p So I enjoy it through blog post 🙂

    1. This place would be absolutely creepy at night!

      We just got back from Vancouver yesterday. We weren’t into the city itself but the surrounding areas are awesome. We hope to go back next year. We loved Victoria and Vancouver Island. When we go back we wouldn’t spend much time in Vancouver. Check out Vancouver Island if you go. We went to Sombrio beach that place was really something special, Mystic Beach and China Beach all on the Juan de Fuca Trail on Vancouver Island. Check out Sea to sky highway too. Drive on it very carefully. the view is so distracting because it’s gorgeous. If we go back we may go to Whistler and Victoria. Or we’re going to squirrel away a lot of money to try and go on a spirit bear, grizzly bear, black bear tour. The nature is just wonderful, the air smells clean. You guys would absolutely love British Columbia. We totally fell in love. There aren’t many places we fall in love where we feel we can move there and Victoria we want to move to. We kept asking if Trump becomes president how easy it it to become a Canadian citizen. Our guide laughed and says she gets that a lot now. Vancouver the city is very developed. Tons of tall buildings you can see the mountains from the edges of the peninsula and down the streets. We really couldn’t get into the city itself but we live in a really big city so we tend to feel really grump in cities. We did love the Chinese Garden – that was really cool never seen one before.

      1. We are hitting Montreal next month. Canada year for us. We love it there. We can’t figure out how to move there if Trump wins. We kept asking everyone.

      2. Oh this is awesome ! how many days are you planning to stay in Canada ?

        This trump business is just awful.. I can’t imagine him winning. Like I couldn’t imagine the UK out of Europe and then it happened D:

      3. We stayed for 4 days. Not long enough for a 8 hour bus ride but the trip was great. Met up with my French friends for 1 day up there and now they are at my place. We want to move to Canada. We love it there. Need to hit Quebec City and Mont Tremblant next time too.

        London was our back up if Trump one but now that Brexit happened Vic checks for jobs in Canada. Race relations in the US have gotten a lot worse since Trump opened his stupid mouth. I can’t believe Nazi salutes and being compared to Mussolini – how the hell do people think that’s ok? This has been the hardest election year ever. We are so scared Trump may win. Seriously, I hated Bush but he seems like a god send compared to Trump. Obama has done a lot of good for this country and the economy – I really hope we don’t go backwards. My French friend told us that there has been a rise of racist parties in Europe too. What is this world coming to?

        But happier thoughts – have you guys gone away? Enjoy the rest of summer!

      4. 4 days is good to have a little taste of the country, but not enough to quench the thirst ! 😀

        I know there were a lot of racism in the UK after the Brexit as well… terrible. Being white.. I don’t have the same problem as other immigrant though.

        We are not going away this summer… we are going to take our holiday in November.. going to China to see the family

      5. That sounds like a nice trip! Where in China are they from? We’re from Canton and Toishan – I think that’s right. Until I met Vic, my dad’s mom kept telling me the few words she taught me were Cantonese. Vic’s mom told me they were Toishan! His family is from the same area too.

      6. They are from Tangshan 🙂 I don’t really know the geography on China so I don’t know if Canton or Toishan are North or South so I will have to look it up 😀

  6. Wonderful post. Love the lost history in places like that. New York and the boroughs crammed as much historic infrastructure in in a couple of hundred years as it took centuries in some spots in Europe. Thanks for listing the Staten Island site. I will be sure to visit .

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