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Hudson River State Hospital
Main Building
Hudson River State Hospital.jpeg
Hospital in 2012
Location Town of Poughkeepsie, NY
Nearest city Poughkeepsie
Area 296 acres (120 ha)
Built 1868-1871
Architect Frederick Clarke Withers, Calvert Vaux, and Frederick Law Olmsted
Architectural style High Victorian Gothic
NRHP reference No. 89001166
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 29, 1989
Designated NHL June 30, 1989

The Hudson River State Hospital, is a former New York state psychiatric hospital which operated from 1873 until its closure in the early 2000s. The campus is notable for its main building, known as a "Kirkbride," which has been designated a National Historic Landmark due to its exemplary High Victorian Gothic architecture, the first use of that style for an American institutional building. It is located on US 9 on the Poughkeepsie-Hyde Park town line.

Frederick Clarke Withers designed the hospital's buildings in 1867. Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted designed the grounds. It was intended to be completed quickly, but went far over its original schedule and budget. The hospital opened on October 18, 1871 as the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane and admitted its first 40 patients. Construction, however, was far from over and would continue for another 25 years. A century later, it was slowly closed down as psychiatric treatment had changed enough that large hospitals were no longer needed, and its services had been served by the nearby Hudson River Psychiatric Center until that facility's closure in January 2012.

The campus was closed and abandoned in 2003 and fell into a state of disrepair. Authorities struggled with the risk of arson and vandals after suspicion of an intentionally set fire. The male bedding ward, south of the main building, was critically damaged in a 2007 fire caused by lightning. The property was sold to an unnamed buyer in November 2013. The site is currently being developed as a $300 million mixed-use project called Hudson Heritage, which will include 750 residential units, commercial space, medical office space, a hotel, and a conference center.


Hudson River Psychiatric Center front view
The Cheney Building as visible from a nearby strip mall, with Ryon Hall to the right.

The Hospital includes a number of unique buildings:

  • Main Building (the Kirkbride), a High Victorian Gothic building used for administrative purposes. This building will be preserved for future purposes.
  • Patient Wings, which split off the Kirkbride, housed patients. The male ward splits off to the south, and is much larger than the female wing to the north. It was struck by lightning on May 31, 2007, igniting a serious fire. These wings will be demolished sometime in the future.
  • Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches were available to patients, one of which was near the male ward. One of the churches will be preserved for future use.
  • A morgue, with refrigerated cold chambers was located on the northeast corner of the property. This building will be demolished sometime in the future.
  • A power house was built, and still stands, to the northeast of the Kirkbride to provide power to the various buildings. Its smokestack is visible from Route 9 as well as nearby Marist College. This building will be demolished sometime in the future.
  • Ryon Hall opened in 1934 and housed violent or criminally insane patients. It was on the very southern property line, visible from Home Depot, in the shadow of the much larger Cheney Building. The building was demolished on October 14, 2019.
  • The Clarence O. Cheney Building, opened in 1952, is a ten-story steel structure with a brick facade. Named after Dr. Clarence O. Cheney, MD (1887-1947), the president of the American Psychiatric Association from 1935 to 1936, and hospital's superintendent from the 1920s until 1946, the building held doctor's offices and medical examination rooms. The building did provide some patient housing. This building was demolished in 2020.
  • The Herman B. Snow Rehabilitation Center opened in 1971 and provided recreational relief for patients, sporting two bowling alley lanes, a lunch counter, an auditorium, a basketball court, and an indoor swimming pool. The building featured a modern concrete and glass construction with angular asymmetrical wings. Skylights provided natural lighting. This building was demolished in 2019.

21st century

In 2005, the state sold the property and subsequently, the Empire State Development Corporation sold 156 acres (63 ha) including the Main Building to Hudson Heritage LLC, a subsidiary of the Chazen Companies, for $2.75 million. Hudson Heritage and Chazen had planned to thoroughly renovate the Main Building into a combination hotel/apartment complex as the centerpiece of a residential/commercial campus, Hudson Heritage Park.

Hudson River Psychiatric Center fire
May 2007 fire at the Main Building

Redevelopment plans hit two setbacks in the mid- to late-2000s: in 2005, the Town of Poughkeepsie imposed a moratorium on new construction to cope with its growth. Hudson Heritage had been seeking to have a "historic revitalization district" created for the property that would help spur its growth.

Then, on May 31, 2007, lightning struck the sprawling south wing, which held male housing, causing one of the most serious fires in Dutchess County's history. It is unclear whether that portion of the building can be effectively restored after such severe damage. The Administration building was again hit by fire on the morning on April 27, 2018.

In the meantime, the property has remained closed to the public, with signs posted at fenced-off entrances. Local firefighters have complained, after dealing with two fires in April 2010 that appeared to be deliberately set, that the property is not adequately secured against trespassing.


As of May 2012, the campus is owned by CPC Resources, a subsidiary of the New York City-based Community Preservation Corporation, a non-profit mortgage lender that finances multifamily developments. CPC has placed the 162-acre parcel on the market, citing that the poor economy has hindered timely development. Walmart has shown a strong interest in the property, but Poughkeepsie Town Supervisor Todd Tancredi noted that the Town Board cannot envision such a large piece of land used for a single store.

An unnamed buyer purchased the campus for an undisclosed sum in November 2013. The closing for the property occurred on November 8, 2013. The site is currently being developed as a $300 million mixed-use project called Hudson Heritage, which will include 750 residential units, commercial space, medical office space, a hotel, and a conference center.


An intentional fire was set on the morning of April 27, 2018 at the Hudson River State Hospital, according to Fairview Fire District Chief. The fire was located in the wing of the old Main Administration building, and firefighters were dispatched around 3:45 AM; more than a dozen agencies responded with assistance.


Demolition began on July 13, 2016 when smaller auxiliary buildings were torn down. The heavy vegetation that mostly hid the property from plain sight was cleared in summer 2019. The demolition of Ryon Hall, on the extreme southern end of the property, began on October 14, 2019. As part of the mixed use site, the main administration building (Kirkbride), the library, the amusement hall, the chapel, and the northernmost tower of the north wing will be preserved and put in to adaptive reuse. Also, the Great Lawn will be preserved. As of May 25, 2020, the fate of the other buildings on the North Campus is still unwritten and may be added for future use.

19. Rowe, Claudia May 30, 2001. "Modern Efficiency Displaces Historic Psychiatric Hospital". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-15.

Videos of 2007 fire

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