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