Sunday, December 20, 2015
Home(stead) for the Holidays
Friends and family gather at the Holidays to share stories, exchange gifts, and to check out overly explored haunted sites. Am I right, or am I right?
Meet the Saratoga County Homestead. This little darling sits in Providence, NY. From what I learned online it was built around 1912 and opened in 1914 as a treatment facility for tuberculosis. It closed in 1960 after medical science had nearly eradicated the illness in the U.S. thanks to advancements in antibiotics. In 1961 it reopened as the Saratoga County Infirmary. The facility remained open until 1979 serving as the county nursing home. The brick structures in my photos were built about 1932 to replace the original wood buildings. (Many of the sites I found while researching the place basically had cut-n-pastes of the Wiki page, just FYI[i].)
The drive was uneventful as we passed through small Adirondack town who have seen better days. The narrow roads were populated by homes built well apart from each other. The town centers that still exist consisted largely of either a church or a convenience store at a crossroads. This is the first glimpse of the structure we saw and it came as quite a shock given the dense pine forests we just drove through.
Looking to the left greets you with this little fixer-upper. The old caretaker’s home. We learned this from a very friendly local woman who arrived with equally shocking speed after we parked. Within no more than five minutes (perhaps shorter) we had neighbors down the road checking us out, we had the aforementioned female motorist accompanied by a quiet passenger and a cute Shih Tzu stop to chat, and a black SUV with very impressive flashing lights mounted on its dash pacing up and down the road. The SUV driver never approached us, but he did park very sternly from time to time -at a safe distance- with his headlights pointed at us. Incidentally, the woman claimed her father died in the facility in the early sixties from a non-TB lung ailment brought on by industrial population where he worked. She said she remembers climbing the grand staircase located just inside the main doorway as a little girl. She also said the faculty staff were not…caring. I’ll just leave it at that.
The place is quite large and quite rundown. I am all for exploring but I believe the signs adorning the fence warning of poison inside the building. We did not go in for that and other reasons. I’ve seen photos of its rooms. They are covered with thick dust from the crumbling walls and ceilings. A good amount of that dust is likely to be asbestos given the age of facility. Asbestos was used in everything from wiring to insulation to sounds proofing until the 1980’s. So yeah, a building built to treat a disease of the lungs could potentially give you lung cancer. I’m just saying.
Looking at the windows tells you the people around here: A. Hate windows. And B. Come and go with regularity. Yet, the only death I could find linked to exploring the facility was from a car crash. A group of high schoolers from a nearby town were reportedly passing another vehicle at high speeds when the driver lost control tragically killing a passenger. Authorities made it known they suspected the teens were in the area due to the Homestead, but it was never concretely proven[ii]. I did however find an independent horror film from 2008 called The Expedition on IMDB[iii]. I can’t find a scrap of primary evidence on this “based on a true story” thriller about a missing Canadian paranormal investigator. The reviews on Amazon are worth reading[iv]. Here a link to the trailer on Youtube. It was narrated by Batman, if that helps.
And we transition…
To the children’s wing. Sights like this make me sad. Anyway, the symbol over the doorway adorning the shield is the Cross of Lorraine. You may recognize it as the symbol of the American Lung Association. The ALA originated from the fight against tuberculosis in 1904[v].
Here’s the same building in 1941 sometime before the road we used was made[vi].
Finally, here’s a peek inside the building found on YouTube. Note the staircase at 1:30. I believe that is the same staircase our friendly motorist remembers climbing to visit her father before he died. There are a number of similar vids uploaded to the site, of course.
Would you do everyone a kindness and please DO NOT trespass to explore the place. I genuinely don’t think it is safe (Remember the asbestos, not to mention all the glass and debris.) and I genuinely think you will get arrested. Exploring the unknown safely while respecting legal boundaries is the best way to stay an explorer and not add to the ghostly or prison populations.
Now you know and knowing is half the battle!