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The History of Marlboro Psychiatric

Now a Weird NJ haunt, this state hospital was once a mental institution with a history of corruption.

Today, the Marlboro State Psychiatric Hospital is a contaminated site, often visited by Weird NJ fans and ghost hunters. But for 67 years, it was a state-run institution for the mentally disabled.

Recently, , which has become an environmental hazard, and turn it over to Marlboro for recreational and open space use.

After more than six decades of the hospital running under state funding, it was shut down after a state investigation, prompted by an undercover operation. On July 1, 1998, the state hospital closed its doors for good.

Closing the state hospital came 11 years after State Senator Richard Codey went undercover in the hospital, hired as an orderly. Codey chronicled his experience in New Jersey Monthly magazine, saying he witnessed “inhumane care and treatment of mental patients,” as well as poor living and working conditions.

Codey’s undercover work sparked a Senate Task Force in 1994, which investigated the inner-workings of the hospital, from environmental practices to the use of funds designated for patients.

The hospital, built in the 1930’s, came under scrutiny as the senate team found evidence of illegal environmental practices, bribery and a “range of irregularities,” that the task force reported had been going on since the late 1980’s.

The task force’s 1994 executive summary said, “The results of the investigation reveal a tableau of waste, fraud, thievery and corruption in which the squandering of taxpayer dollars virtually has become business as usual at this institution.”

According to the Senate’s executive summary, the Marlboro State Pyschiatric Hospital was one of seven state-run psychiatric institutions in New Jersey. In its final years, it served 780 patients per day and employed 1,157. The report cites the the hospital’s 1995 state budget, which was $55.5 million.

The closing of the hospital was the first in a series of changes, as the state re-evaluated its state-run institutions and investigated de-institutionalizing the mentally ill. According to Codey in New Jersey Monthly, many of the task force’s suggestions became state law.

But the closing of the hospital did not come without opposition. A July, 1998 New York Times article said unionized workers at the hospital as well as families of patients opposed the closing of the doors. Neighborhood groups also worried that patients that were not transferred to another hospital and instead determined they could live alone would be a danger to communities.

The Marlboro Township history book, published in 1999 by Arcadia Publishing, said, “Security issues for the facility were long a local concern. State mental health practice in the 1990’s focused on getting patients into ‘community’ settings,’ with a reluctance to maintain costly in-patient hospitals, regardless of the ongoing need.”

Marlboro Township documents cite more than 780 calls for police between 1988 and the closing of the hospital in 1998, many of which were reports of patients leaving the grounds without authorization.

Patients were transferred to non-permanent treatment, state-funded independent living and other psychiatric hospitals. Currently, the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital holds the medical records of former patients, and accounts records are held at the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services.

The Large Hospital Property

The hospital property is overgrown and currently environmental hazard. It is 411 acres with 600,000 square feet of buildings.

According to the original real-estate listing by the New Jersey Department of Treasury, in 1998 the environmental issues included concern for 13 underground oil tanks, six of which were determined unnecessary. When the property was up for sale, land-use suggestions included a corporate campus, assisted living or nursing home facility and an institutional facility, among others.

The listing encouraged consideration to maintain open space and preserve the land.

The township and the state have been officially negotiating the future of the large property since 2001, when the state granted Marlboro access to the property and attempted to agree on a sale.

In 2003, the township was slated to buy the property for $20 million. The Township Council and the Marlboro Planning Board originally planned for the development of hotel-conference buildings, a limited number of homes and municipal use, according to a 2003 News Transcript article.

But some members of the former council asked for another look at the development plans, seeing the property as a potential for open-space preservation, according to the News Transcript archives. Ultimately, the council decided the original redevelopment plan was no longer attainable due to environmental regulations.

In 2008, when Mayor Jon Hornik took office, he asked the state to outline what would happen with the property. According to township documents, The Township Council took over the plans for redevelopment.

This year, the through the Clean Waters bond fund will go toward sewerage improvements. According to the Department of Environmental Protection, the 411-acre property does not meet the state standards for sewerage treatment facilities. The hospital’s water facilities still serve the addiction treatment center New Hope.

On Nov. 18 this year, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno officially announced it will , knock down and clean up 600,000 square feet of buildings, all without costing Marlboro taxpayers money. The Township will purchase the property in 2014, through open space funds, to preserve the large piece of land.

A Popular Weird NJ Location

Since its closing, the hospital property has been used for military exercises. However, due to ghost stories about the hospital and its persona as a mental institution, it has become a popular Weird NJ location. This has forced Marlboro Township police to guard the property on a regular basis, although the property is owned by the state. However, recently the township secured a $150,000 grant for the state to pay for the policing of the property.

Township documents cite more than 100 calls for trespassing, theft and criminal mischief between 2010 and 2011.

Many ghost stories surround the property’s slaughterhouse, but most have been written off by Weird NJ fans as muddled rumors of paranormal activity. Some rumors suggest the slaughterhouse was the scene of several murders committed by a disgruntled butcher, but the history books, as far as Patch can tell, don’t reference slaughterhouse murders.

Local legend says the hospital was originally built on a cattle farm
, where the slaughterhouse stands. Stories told say the original owner of the land wound up as a patient of the hospital. In the ghost hunting world, some tell stories of hearing squealing pigs and cows at night as well as footsteps and voices.

Regardless of the reality of paranormal activity on the premises, the hospital will likely remain a popular site for the daring and the curious, until the buildings are knocked down, and the land cleaned up and re-developed for other use.

However, those found on the gated property are subject to arrest and fines for trespassing.

bud November 17, 2011 at 06:35 PM
With corn at $4 and cattle at historic highs, why don't we convert Marlboro back into a farm? Lucent/Bell Labs back into a turkey farm from whence it came? I had the displeasure of working there during college, I was the Ed Norton of the Sewer Dept!!! Never saw my "boss" since he would disappear during the summers? Owned a nursing home nearby!!!! Never had a problem getting new patients! Hmmm.
Michele Michaels February 19, 2012 at 09:55 PM
The only horrors there were perpitrated by the employees on the patients. I know this first hand having been a patient at the age of 14 in 1970.
ARDIS MCELHANEY April 18, 2012 at 07:19 PM
So when are they cleaning up the mess??? ==we hiked there recently [April 2012] and there are rusty large farm equipment, dishes, furniture and dangerous boards with nails all over the place. Yes, it should all be a farm again=recycle the bricks,etc.
Daniel Gibson May 15, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Where is this place located ... I've been living here for 5 yrs and have never seen or heard of this 400+ acre site?
Kaitlyn Anness May 15, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Daniel--It is on Route 520, between 79 and 34, across the street from the YMCA Camp Arrowhead. It's border also runs along Conover Road.
Kaitlyn Anness May 15, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Ardis--No word on when they will start tearing down buildings, but the project is said to be done in 2014.
S. Bounty May 20, 2012 at 11:22 AM
I was an employee of the hospital and lies are told yea u had employees that hurt the patients and they were being weeded out little by little I still work for the state and it's worse now because they keep closing these hospitals and crowding these patients on top of each other which is not therapeutic at all. You have DDD and pysc patients mixed together not good stop closing these hospitals some of these patients can't survive in the real world and some need long term care . There are some of us who do care for the mentally ill please stop labeling all state workers that way.
N g September 26, 2012 at 04:13 PM
are they doing tours on halloween?
N g September 26, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Can we go inside? I'm just curious to see what happend and what went on in the building, no vandalism for me!
thomas monaco December 23, 2012 at 03:19 AM
theres no way for u to go inside. the cops are hard core. they put vidoe cameras on the buildings and motion sensors, u go near that place and the cops r on u
Ana SJ April 07, 2013 at 03:20 PM
There is no respect and decency left in this world, my father was a patient there summer of 67' and he recovered to be the best father in he world who cared for his family and went to church every Sunday, he never lost his mind or faith, thanks to this hospital, society needs to learn from its past.
Tejas satish patil May 21, 2013 at 05:28 AM
Best story. i like it. very nice
Melissa D'agastino June 24, 2013 at 01:04 PM
I am a Certified Paranormal Investigator/Team Leader for New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society, www.njghs.net Does anyone know who I could contact to get a small group of investigators in there before it gets knocked down? Please contact me at melissad@njghs.net
Annette July 01, 2013 at 09:31 AM
Annette - I had a grandmother who supposedly was a patient there in the 1930's - probably when it just opened - I am wondering how to get records from her time there
Jen Bruno-Braun August 22, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Annette, http://www.nj.gov/humanservices/dmhs/oshm/mph/ that site is the site for medical records. Good luck!
Lucky You October 17, 2013 at 09:30 AM
I have always been interested in mental health. I am looking for any info from former patients/workers. I am writing about mental hospitals and the pros and cons of them. Any info will be greatly appreciated. send me a message via missy.low.5@facebook.com
phil dauria April 10, 2014 at 02:20 PM
This place is amazing! Iv been here numerous times. It is my favorite place to photograph! The history, architecture and memories of this place are incredible! a STORY WILL BE UP SOON WITH A FULL GALLERY OF PHOTOS! WWW.THEFORGOTTENAMERICA.COM WWW.THEFORGOTTENAMERICA.COM

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