The abandoned patient houses of Ancora Psychiatric

In issue 18 of Weird NJ they showed photos of the old patient buildings at Ancora, a psychiatric facility in Hammonton. By the time I actually visited in 2004, the houses had all been razed and there was nothing to see. Well, there might have been but the main facility across the street is still active. I wasn’t risking being caught for something that was really not much to see anyway.

Lesson learned: go to see a place while it’s still there. You snooze, you lose.

This is a photo submitted by a reader:

smallhouse

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49 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by joanna dzwonczyk on April 5, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    I am looking for Richard terio. who was a patient there who died, I am looking for where is his body is at rest.

    Reply

  2. My husband lived there back in the day, (he’s 17 yrs older than me), welfare gave him the house…but he soon lost it after the cops raided it since he was using drugs back then. I think it’s kinda neat he lived there…I always wanted a pic of the houses, but waited to long…soon after they appeared in Weird NJ, they were torn down.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Jack on April 30, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    I grew up there from 1968 to 1972, and went to St Joe’s in Hammonton instead of the public school. We lived in one of the second tier doctor homes, as my dad was one of the seven in that tier. The hospital grounds were set up like the Air Force base I work at. The top doctor lived in the mansion with two lakes in his yard. Lake Zoe was one of them. We used to ice skate on them and have a camp fire on the island of the big one.
    I live at Laurel Lane that was in the shape of a “U” with seven other houses. The next tier was about 20 homes across the street, and they had the next tier doctors living there. Out side the gate were the Edgewood homes, or we called them the hundred homes. I guess there was 100 of them. they housed all the support staff for the hospital.
    In the gate there were buildings for the single girl nurses. these were next to the ball fields, the green house (remember Mike, and AJ the sparrow hawk), and the pool.
    There was a police squad, a barber, a chapel, a small soda hop, a commissary, a mail room, and everything else for a town. The patients were milling around, and as a child we were not to talk to them, but we did. they were harmless. Always mowing the lawns with the push mowers and a large screw driver in the back pocket to adjust the blades.
    The drift wood forest, where they put all the tree stumps pulled during construction was a great place to shoot BB guns, as was the dump (land fill) till my dad caught use shooting florescent bulbs and glass IV bottles.
    the cliffs were another great place for us boys. straight back of or house, along the tracks where they mined the yellow gravel. we used to dig tunnels in he walls of the cliffs and burn leaves to harden the walls into rock.
    the hidden lakes (or eight lakes) were just through the woods and provided great summer and winter diversions, we boys needed.
    The patients would pick up or marked laundry let in a rectangular bin on our front steps. they would return them with dad’s shirts pressed. I remember some buttons would always be broken and Romco came out with the “Buttoier”, that saved my mother a lot of time.
    Dad drove a State car, a Fury III, that the patients would wash. And the patients would mow the lawns.
    We had moved from Trenton State but I was to young to compare the two. I had a great middle school child hood at Ancora. Sorry to see it pass.

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  4. The lengthy commentary by Paul is the most accurate. My parents worked at Ancora from around 1963 til 1976. The “hundred homes” on the east side of Spring Garden Road were occupied by families of mid level nursing, physician, and support service personnel. It was a happy community. The senior physicians lived in the “staff homes” on the west side of Spring Garden Rd. They are still functioning today, unlike the hundred homes, which have been razed. The little community we had was quite ethnically diverse, with physicians from India, Phillipines, Turkey, Hungary, Haiti, and other countries, as well as a handful of US grads. It was a lively community of professional staff and some blue collar managerial folks with kids of all ages.

    Contrary to what one observer has written, the bus stops were used by us as children, waiting for school buses to pick us up in the morning to attend local schools in
    Winslow Twp and Hammonton. As an example, I attended St Joseph School in Hammonton while living there, as did a number of the children, from K thru 12.

    Ancora served a variety of patients categories, including a children’s unit, a unit for the criminally insane, and general adult psych patients. I believe there was also a unit for the profoundly retarded. My take on things, from living there for having 2 professional parents who worked there, as well as knowing almost all the others who lived on the grounds, as well as from having worked as a lifeguard at the pool for 2 summers, was that patients were well treated. The professional staff were all well trained and compassionate. As always, when dealing with chronically institutionalized, severely affected people with mental illness, there is always some potential for things to appear to be inhumane or for some of the hands-on orderly type staff to have to quell disruptiveness or hostile behavior between patients. Many of these patients were well managed with medication and remained well behaved. However some were prone to severe agitation and would get into altercations, leading the casual observer to make some of the observations noted above. There were some very mildly ill people there, but some at the very far end of the spectrum and all kinds in between.

    I am not aware of history beyond 1976 as I moved away to college, etc thereafter. I have very few photos of the hundred homes during the glory days and would appreciate anyone having some from their heyday to pass them along.

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  5. Posted by Vinyasa on August 9, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    This is a bit belated…many people are posting from a couple years ago. Ancora Psychiatric Hospital is EVIL. I just got out. The doctor on my unit was deeply “disturbed” by the fact that…I did NOTHING. She could not find me doing anything…and had me re-committed after being discharged WITH A PLACE TO GO when another, black patient beat up on me as staff watched.

    It is a den of iniquity, and pure evil. The place should be razed. I got beat up on for various reasons by certain favored patients, “lifers” they were called, and the incident that got me beaten on while staff laughed happened b/c I stood up for a patient one of the favored lifers was abusing, two of them actually who were chronic abusers, both physical and emotional of other patients. Racism runs throughout the hellhole, with upwards of 80% of the staff being black. To be white there was hell, to be someone who just wound up there with no emotional or mental illness double hell.

    Now other people who tried to stand up for me, other patients who are white, are being abused there, even after I got out from under the sickness of the doctor on that floor (and they’re all pretty sick, she’s just extreme), and the lowlifes working on it.

    I cried the night I left, for all the people who are stuck there, regardless of their personal issues, and the abuses they’ll weather at the hands of the scum who work there. I did the best I could for them…but the evil elements, both patients and staff, of that place will always dominate.

    Major reforms need to be made, but evil will always be the guiding ethos of Ancora, from top to bottom.

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    • Posted by Dana on May 13, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      Vinaysa,
      I too went through the same thing there! I still have nightmares of that place. The Dr.s there did nothing for me and the staff had no patience what so ever,as you said the staff was EVIL. With the exception of maybe 3 staff members.. I was transferred there from the Hampton House for no good reason.I lost 5 months of my life there. Was even taken out for a visit home and had to have surgery at a medical Hospital nearby.. While there they had people sit and watch me! I was by no means violent, but they still sat there and watched my TV when I was trying to sleep. I also had a tooth pulled and later found out only half of it was removed! You forgot to mention the smell of urine that was where ever you went and how dirty the place was! The awful tunnels! Lets do something about it! E-mail me DC1961NJ@yahoo.com
      Dana

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      • Posted by Person on September 22, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        You can sue them for what ever they did in federal court. I haven’t been there. But have been threatened with it. I heard they were investigated by doj back in 08 and got sued by disability rights nj. The Internet has their findings letter by doj.

        I had some pretty Nasty experiences with psychiatrist and people ike that. The proliferating (rapidly increasing) mental system is going to make the world. Bad

        Reply

    • i was in ancora but not as a patient was an inmate in the part that is owned by bayside state prison.only nonviolent offenders are allowed there,we were thre ones who cleaned the grounds.if I remember correctly the names of the building\s are named after trees,spruce willow and so on.i thought it was funny they let the criminally insane walk freely around the compound meanwhile us nonviolent convicts had to stay behind a fence.the guy I worked for said one of the buildings in ancora had been closed for a long time all the other buildings were renovated except the one im writing about apparently it was haunted.the crazies wouldn’t even stay there. and the renovators left the building untouched bc too much wird stuff was hapaning, it still looks like the 1950s in there this was back in 2011 too.

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  6. Posted by Hank Lohn on December 12, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    To begin with Veterans Haven has only been there since the late 1980′s and this is not the name of the compound. It has absolutely nothing to do with this compound. It is a place for homeless veterans to get themselves together. The part your all referring to is Ancora Psychiatric Hospital and a completely separate entity. The house were all there for staff housing never for patients. Veterans Haven in a rented building for Veterans. Do not and I repeat this do not go there and bother the Veterans. You will be arrested. You should be arrested for it. There is nothing to see there and the stories are all bullshit! I lived near there to and there were stories made up when we were kids in order to kid people from trespassing. This is some really stupid shit nobody saw nothing there and it is made up in their puny minds. NO Ghost and nothing else to see! Anyone that says there is is lying to you!

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  7. Posted by pilgrimsoul28 on November 28, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    I lived in the Ancora community from 1957 until 1980′s. Would love to connect with anyone else who lived here–Barbara for example, I probably know you- and would love to exchange stories/pictures.

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    • Posted by Barbara on May 30, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      I just saw your message – May 2011. I’d love to connect with you. I lived in one of the small, now destroyed houses and then a larger, brick and white house across the street — what is now the thrift store.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ali on July 10, 2013 at 8:50 PM

        hi there! i live in marlton nj about 20 minutes away from ancora.. i have been there many times passing through.. once while looking for a lake to fish with my dad.. we ended up lost and in the back grounds where there was VERY tiny homes but they were all abandon and i think only on or two stood standing.. i have since been enamoured with the history and would love to see pictures you all have!! thanks :).. i could help but get out of the car an explore the old homes.. it was creepy as they were abandon.. but was really neat to see!

        Reply

    • Posted by diana conti on January 14, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      I use to work there and it was a nightmare. I use to hang with a guy named mike, and a sal sidone, and a girl named evonne I been trying to find. she is African American, an llived near the hosp. I worked there around 1970-1971, also I knew a bill danzler. do you know any of them. I lived on the grounds and it was awlful and I stuck up for this girl and next thing I knew I was in trouble for doing it and I left there. diana

      Reply

  8. Posted by joel on October 19, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    i wanna go to veterans haven if its still up to make it legal can i call someone to see if i can have access to legally go and do an investigation

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  9. Posted by jeff on July 11, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    how do i get to veterans haven? where is it in relation to the main entrance of the hospital? i went looking for it one night and couldnt find it.

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    • Posted by lostinjersey on July 12, 2010 at 8:39 PM

      as far as I know the abandoned and unused parts are all gone. all thats ther eis in use and is patrolled.

      Reply

  10. Posted by Mikey on June 22, 2010 at 3:37 AM

    Thanks to those folks who shared stories of this mysterious place! I grew up and still live only a few miles from Ancora and being born in 1982, most of my life took place after the place had shutdown. Being that, I never really knew much about the place other than what my parents and others told me but they really didn’t know much either. Admittedly, I never really had the stones to go back there myself since I heard the cops patrolled pretty much 24/7. (now of course I wish I did take a walk around there!). On a side note, I hear there were once tunnels linking the main complex to somewhere in the neighborhood going under the road. Anyone know if this is true? Anyway, thanks again for sheding some light on this mystery in the Pines.
    Mikey, Williamstown, NJ

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    • Posted by butcch on October 22, 2010 at 10:10 PM

      These were staff homes built in 1951. They were used as patient programs and known as the hundred homes. The state let them fall apart. I lived and worked there and never was fearful. The people there are just folks with a tough row to hoe.

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    • Posted by richard thornton on August 2, 2012 at 11:08 AM

      i worked in Ancora maitainence. any time we had a call from the “100 homes”as they were called, we drove in a truck, there was no tunnel underneith the road nor did i ever here the oldtimers speak of one

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  11. Posted by Paul on January 26, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    ALlow me to interject some facts here.

    The employee housing just outside the main hospital campus was once a lovely community. I lived there with my mother until 1983. The houses were owned by the state and rent was subsidized as a courtesy to staff who worked at the hospital. So nurses, therapy aids, maintenance workers, secretaries, fireman, police, and grounds crew–the homes were filled with these folks. Many had families so there were lots of kids who lived in there–I was one of them.

    Bus stops were constructed along Spring Garden road to take these kids to school (Winslow Township for elementary kids and Edgewood for high schoolers). Patients of the hospital had nothing to do with these homes. The one real drawback of them homes was they were small–but adequate. The “big” model had three bedrooms, a kitchen, livingroom, bathroom, and utility room (with outside adjacent shed). Small models had two BRs.

    Now in the early 80′s, faced with a budget crisis, the state stopped subsidizing rent. It became expensive. Given the small house and the rising cost, the community broke up and people moved out. I remember watching the homes empty one by one. When we left in 83, occupancy was down to about 75%. I worked as a groundskeeper one summer in 1988. By then, the houses were 25% occupied. At that time, the state decided to use the homes for a variety of social programs. Unfortunately, this introduced a criminal element. Drug dealing started, and suddenly the hospital security found itself policing a rough neighborhood at night. The social experiment failed. The houses were closed down, though a few remained opened for hospital-related purposes. I know one was used to teach patients how to care for a home, how to sweep, do laundry, clean and cook–all in preparation for “discharge.”

    But even that was shut down as budgets were cut and the state moved to privatize care for the mentally ill–and basically throw mental patients out (back into their communities). So they shut the neighborhood down and leveled the homes. I drove back just last week to see my house. I couldn’t even find it. The entire area is growing back into a forest! It is like it never existed.

    As to the staff of the hospital: once it was an amazing place. There were pools and greenhouses and an outdoor track, basketball and baseball fields and pathways to take walks. There was a store, a chapel, and a cafeteria for highly functioning patients (and staff). The summer I worked on the grounds crew, there were attractive women working as lifeguards for the pool and in various departments. Also there were more “upscale” houses for the doctors who lived on campus–they had the bigger houses closer to the “main building” inside the hospital campus.

    Now as I say all this, it wasn’t without its troubles. Patients died there. Some escaped and committed suicide by the nearby train tracks. A system of alarms was posted in the staff neighborhood to alert you when a patient escaped (sirens on telephone poles). There was even a patient cemetery, if I recall. And later when part of the hospital was converted to a minimum security prison, there were other issues. I recall a story of an inmate being shanked and another having his arm removed when it got caught in an industrial sized dryer while he was working.

    So..,my point is that the truth is probably more complicated and more interesting than any imagined notions of what this property was and is. And believe it or not, I have fond memories of the place from when it was a thriving community not so long ago.

    Reply

    • Posted by lostinjersey on February 10, 2010 at 6:46 AM

      thanks for sharing your story. It helps to gives us a better idea of what the place was really like.

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    • Posted by Mary Novak on October 12, 2010 at 3:42 PM

      I don’t have a web site. I wanted to ask you a question. My Aunt was in the hospital as a patient in 1964 and for a few years before that. When the patients died, where did they bury them? She died there in Dec 1964. I would like to get information on her death and where she was buried, I am doing a genealogy project and she was my Grandmother’s sister, and I remember when she was fine and came down to Salem to visit us. So sad, what a place to end up in. If I can find where she was buried, I can do my research from that point.

      Her name was Mollie Wirstrom and she lived in NY before she ended up in Ancora, this is just to humanize her.. Thank you.

      Mary Novak, Seattle, WA

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      • Posted by butch on October 23, 2010 at 12:02 PM

        Ancora was built in 1951 as an Emergency Relocation Center for the Cold War. The tunnels never went to the staFF homes but were stocked wwith emergency food, medical supplies and space to house the people in the area. The facility served 2 purposes. It was an alternative to the antique facility at Trenton. The graves (abandoned by the State) are in an area behind the maintainance garages. They are in shameful condition. The tunnels also enabled patieents to go from building to building out of the bad weather. Blame the indifferent idiots in Trenton for the current state of affairs. Ther3e may stilol be a chaplin who can help with the grave sitesd. There are only placks usually with a SS# for confidentiality. The grounds used to be beautiful but thanks to trenton…….

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        • Posted by Mary Novak on January 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM

          Posting by Butch, Oct 2010..Thank you for the reply on the hospital graveyard. I will try to contact Trenton to see if I can find out where she was buried. After reading some of this things on this site, I really hope she never understood where she was, this is just so sad for everyone who ever was put there.

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          • Dear Friends,

            I have just returned from a day trip to Ancora during which I visited the graveyard. It is located on the road leading to Veterans’ Haven, down a sand track road in the oak woods. Access to the access road is through a locked cyclone fence gate. To get in, one must make arrangements with the hospital. I made my arrangement with the head chaplain, who joined me and two colleagues on the visit. Shortly I will post pictures of the place at http://www.psychodyssey.net. There is also a good history of the cemetary online by the Camden County Historical Society. See: http://historiccamdencounty.com/ccnews150.shtml.

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    • Posted by butcch on October 22, 2010 at 10:16 PM

      Me too I grew up there and late in Cedar Hall and the Main Admissions unit. We were a huge family of ethnicaly diverse people who all got along and lived in our little community peacefully.r became a nurse.

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  12. Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2009 at 9:00 PM

    Ancora Hospital is a horrible place. My brother has been a patient there for over 1 1/2 years. He has been been bruised more times than I choose to remember. Most of the staff they hire are low life. They are just there for paychecks and pension. No one cares about the patients. I pray for the day to come when he is released from there. Hopefully, it will be soon.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Pookie291 on May 12, 2009 at 12:07 AM

    The stories on here about the houses are funny…when i was younger i lived in one of the houses across the street, they where for the employees of the hospital not for the patients or any other wierd purpose…My mother works at the hospital still and when we lived there my father worked for the gounds department…im now 24 and live in williamstown which is about fifteen minutes away.

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    • Posted by lostinjersey on May 12, 2009 at 8:35 AM

      isn’t that how it always is? an answer much more normal and mundane and BRING then whatever we expected…

      //sigh

      //thanks for posting!

      Reply

    • Posted by ryan pierce on July 30, 2009 at 2:15 AM

      hey whats up i was just wondering is it worth going to check out or are they hard core about the cops and such but anyway if you want text my cell 856 562 3550

      Reply

  14. Posted by ariana on March 23, 2009 at 6:54 PM

    i was wondering if you knew the address or where the abandoned or shut down Ancora Pyschiatric Hospital is.

    Me and a few friends went to go look at it yesterday but we couldnt find it.

    A friend of mine who i was with has been there but it has been years and he couldnt remember where it was.

    But if you could pleace email me back about where the village and hospital is that would be great.

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    • Posted by lostinjersey on March 23, 2009 at 8:07 PM

      I could tell you but I won’t. partially because I don’t remember, but if I did remember I wouldn’t for your protection. no offense, but if you read the previous post there’s not much to see. hell there wasn’t much to see 5 years ago when I stopped by. I know this person whop posted last and trust them so i they say seurity will nail you, then security will nail you. this is one of those high risk low reward scenarios.

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    • Posted by Michelle on November 8, 2009 at 4:55 PM

      It’s on Route 30 East Between Chesilhurst and Hammonton. There’s an intersection at WHP, Old WHP and Spring Garden Road. There’s a sign on the Pike coming from Chesilhurst that says something like Ancora Psych Hospital next right. If you go over the brigde over the RR tracks, you’ve gone too far.

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  15. Posted by Kitty on March 23, 2009 at 4:26 PM

    Seeing these pictures are pretty cool, but a lot has changed around Ancora.

    Since March of 2008, I’ve worked in Larch Hall, a general psychiatric unit at the hospital.

    There buildings which used to be across the street, are almost- if not completely gone. They have also installed cameras along spring garden road, and especially at night, if someone is driving slowly, or suspiciously around the hospital, there will be a Human Resources police officer there within minutes. Since they are stationed on grounds. This is mainly because of escape hazards.

    I have never been back to a barn or anything down the street by the DMV, I do love the archway, so I will have to check that out sometime.

    They now have a guard booth stationed by the veterans home, and have moved the personal office to across the street from it. They have also added in building security guards for visitors, and on grounds-wandering security officers.

    Elm hall is abandoned, but there is talk of using it as a duel diagnosis building, much like Birch is currently. (Below 70 IQ, with a mental disorder)

    For awhile, the bottom floor of Elm Hall was being used as a temp solution to housing patients when there needed to be maintenance in Larch. I spent about 3 months last summer working there. The upstairs is a rather wicked site. A few of my coworkers who work second shift decided to check it out after dark, but come to find out, there are cameras in some areas (I just poked my head in. Silly workers forgot that the elevator takes you up there, even though they locked the stairs) They were reprimanded for even taking a look. So between that, and the multiple security guards, it’s not worth the risk of taking a look.

    I do wish I could have been able to see the old buildings, but once I really knew about them, they were being taken down.

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  16. Posted by Phantom on March 18, 2009 at 7:34 PM

    A note to Dave: the village houses at Ancora are gone, but the barn is still up. There are some trailers next to it that contain asylum furniture. The vets home is worth a look, just watch out for the security around the on-grounds prison. They are only a hundred yards away. From one to another…..PHANTOM……see you in the ruins

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  17. Posted by Dan on March 18, 2009 at 7:34 PM

    Anyone with any links to the pictures of inside the abandoned ANCORA village houses please send me links to my above email. Thank You!

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  18. Posted by Heather on March 18, 2009 at 7:32 PM

    I went to Ancora the other day while I was on the way from dropping a friend off at A.C. airport. Have you seen the house entitled “Fridge Party?” The entire house consists of fridges, in a maze. They must have taken out all the fridges from the houses. I’m a 20-something who lives in Bucks County and has made a hobby out of finding out weird shit roadside long before weird nj. Have you TRULY been to midgetville, and can you give me any info about the goddamn Indian Cabin Road or Clinton Road?

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  19. Posted by Nick on March 18, 2009 at 7:31 PM

    I’ve been back since, and the place has changed a bit. The doors are now double padlocked, and there is hard plastic over all the windows that is screwed down pretty securely. I noticed in issue 18 of WNJ, there’s an article about the hospital (page 22). In it, someone said there was a doll in the window of one of the houses. Well, I’m fairly sure it’s the same doll my friends and I saw in that barn, and I’m sure there are other things in there from the houses that have all recently been torn down. If you want the pictures that we took that night (a few decent ones, including on of the doll), I’d be glad to send you the pics

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    • Grandfather was in Anchora a long time ago, received ECT, insulin treatments etc. Tried to find the place but no luck. A word of caution! Be careful & respectful to the dead as you walk among them. im a bit of a psychic & i have a bad feeling about the doll thing & apparently Ancora has a Veterans transitions program onsite that they named, of all names,Veterans Haven. Not a good thing at all. Careful out there…

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  20. Posted by Nick on March 18, 2009 at 7:31 PM

    I’m (finally) getting back to you about my trip to Ancora Psychiatric Hospital last March (2004) that you lost or whatever happened. I don’t know if you’re still updating the site, but I thought you might like it. Alright man. We just got back from this one. Just across from the Motor Vehicles Inspection Station, you’ll see a large gate, only there is no gate, just the part that would hold it up. You go right through and you might notice a sign that says something like “State Property: No Trespassing. Not even 100 yards back from it is a a group of three buildings. One old stable or barn, a building that seems to be half underground, and a smaller shed- type building.

    There are also two unmarked white trailers near the stable. If they’re still there, the first thing you’ll notice about these trailers is that, by the doors, are a large group of old wheelchairs and these other chairs that look somewhat like dentist chairs but with wheels. Apparently, the government bought the old buildings and is using them to dump their old junk. It becomes more obvious when you go inside the half- underground building. Go to the door at the very back (furthest from the gates) and down the steps. Be careful not to go on the ramp because it’s very slippery. You’ll walk in and notice that the building is full of old sinks and things from a heavy duty kitchen, like a hospital’s. There’s nothing much more here so we went to the barn next.

    You need to go to the wide end (facing the DMV) and, toward the middle, you’ll find a set of dutch doors. The tops have a lock, but a good bull on the bottom will open ‘em right up. Just duck under. This room is full of boxes, more junk, and what seems to be the hospital’s Christmas decorations. You can explore around here, ’cause we ran as soon as we saw this f***ed- up looking doll poking up from a stack of Kellogg’s boxes. Yea, I know, we’re a bunch of pussies, but it was 11 PM and it just scared the living hell out of us.

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  21. Posted by Barbara on March 18, 2009 at 7:31 PM

    I always find stories about the abandoned homes adjacent to Ancora State Hospital quite amusing. You see, I lived in two of those small homes as a child in the 1950′s. My father worked at the hospital as a physician. I remember it as a happy place with plenty of other children. Most of the families were immigrants, with the majority from Poland and the Ukraine. The hospital provided the homes and all the homes were very well maintained. We later moved across the street; the home that is now the thrift shop was mine. I have plenty of pictures of the interior and exterior of that home. As my parents were European, the walls were lined with oil paintings and my mother had gold damask curtains in the living room windows. She spent many days planting all kinds of flowers in the beds. Her favorites were lily of the valley.

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  22. Posted by Jennifer on March 18, 2009 at 7:30 PM

    Hi me and my friends went to the houses across from ancora hospital on march 13, 2004. We walked down that street for like 5 minutes & didn’t see any houses. When we finally seen them the houses were all cleaned out and they are tearing them down. I just figured I’d write to you & let you know so people don’t waste their time trying to check it out.

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  23. Posted by Alex on March 18, 2009 at 7:30 PM

    I haven’t volunteered at the Thrift Store in about a year, but have been back to look around but for two times, most recently in June. For all intents and purposes the Thrift store is open on Wednesdays and there is a sign on Spring Garden Road at the southern entrance to the hospital indicating its presence. In addition, that gate is almost always open to vehicular traffic and there is no guard there, except for a camera mounted on a 20 foot tower across the street monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic. The employee compound entrance you are referring to is the Northern Entrance. That is where the Fireman Tribute “Museum” used to be located. I’m sure, if the place hasn’t been demolished yet, you can find some relics related to that museum.

    I had applied to be a volunteer in the summer of 2000. It was about 90 degrees at 10 am, and it seemed like it was about 110 inside the hospital, as they have no air conditioning. The administrative offices, however, installed window unit air conditioners to stay comfortable. And there was a subtle odor in every building at the hospital. I can’t really identify it; it didn’t smell like dead bodies or rotting flesh, but it smelled like the powdery stuff on an unlubricated condom. I remember having to wait for the nurse to draw my blood (presumably to test for diseases or drug use). The room they had me wait in was actually among other patients waiting for medical treatment. Almost all the lights were turned off in the hallways outside of this room. The walls were brick and I sat in one of those benches that looked like it belonged in a park.

    There were also high-school desks in the room, presumably for patients to fill out paperwork. There was a television enclosed in a wooden unit, the front of which had a piece of Plexiglas screwed on to it. The buttons were inaccessible, but there were a few holes drilled so that the audio could be heard. A soap opera was on, and I asked the woman in the room if she could change it. She said the channel couldn’t be changed because the remote had been lost and the channels buttons could not be manipulated manually. (Likely story; she probably just wanted to catch her soap.) The tightly meshed screens over the windows gave me an added sense of security (right). One specific “weird thing” I remember were the early 80′s Light Blue Dodge Reliants parked around the semi circle driveway near the entrance to the main hospital (Larch Hall I think was its name). The weird part was that they were parked bumper to bumper, presumably so that if a patient escaped with the keys, he wouldn’t be able to go anywhere because the cars were packed together like sardines.

    There are a couple of other interesting attractions surrounding Ancora (or in the immediate area) are some kind of water treatment facility across the street from the main entrance of the hospital. From what I understand, it treats the water used at the hospital. There is an entrance on the east side of Spring Garden Rd that is not fenced off, and is marked with a “State Property-Do Not Trespass” sign, but it is fairly easy to gain access. Also take notice of the abandoned bus stop shelters on the hospital side of Spring Garden Road. They were used to transport the people who lived in the employee compound across the street when it was low-income housing. They are run down and creepy, littered with graffiti. Traveling north on Spring Garden Road until it dead ends, you will find an abandoned white house. Although it may have been demolished in light of the construction going on behind it on Route 30 (White Horse Pike). Finally, while I may be thinking of something different, there is a graveyard north of Ancora on Spring Garden Road across from the Motor Vehicles Inspection Station.

    Another attraction, although not related to Ancora, but within very close proximity to it, is a house on the corner of Spring Garden and Rt 561. To get there, drive south on Spring Garden Road (about 1/8 mile) and the house is on the southeast corner of the controlled intersection. The lawn is filled with ugly statues. I mean FILLED. It might make for some interesting photography.

    Reply

  24. Posted by Alex on March 18, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    My main purpose for finding the site was to see pictures of Ancora and possibly pictures of progress re: the demolition of the houses across the street from Ancora Hospital. While I haven’t found anybody posting any photos yet, I can offer some information about the houses. My information is derived mostly from a lady I used to volunteer with at the thrift shop on the grounds of Ancora Hospital, the location of which is in one of the houses similar in structure to the ones across from the hospital, but on the grounds of the hospital near the southern entrance closest to Route 561. According to her, the houses were originally built and maintained for the employees of the hospital and their families, but in the 70′s were abandoned to save money. In the 80′s, the houses were used as low income housing for elderly, disabled, and families, but were again abandoned in the early 90′s due to asbestos insulation around the pipes. As recently as a few years ago, I remember a rudimentarily maintained Firemen’s Association in the house on the northern driveway of the employee campus, off of Spring Garden Road. That in itself was creepy. Some of the windows were broken, but that organization, obviously unable to afford even a decent place to house itself, eventually closed its doors when the state decided to barricade all entrances to the campus.

    Even with the barricades, I have been able to drive back there, although the weeds growing up through the cracks in the black top could be a nuisance. The last time I drove through the campus was June 2003 at night, and it wasn’t really anything to write home about. There aren’t any street lights and at that point the state had completed demolishing about 20 of the houses in the back of the property. It seemed as if they left the foundations of the houses, which was odd. I remember one day volunteering at the thrift shop and a dump truck got stuck in a sink hole near the southern entrance of the employee campus, and the back wheel subsequently got entangled in a guide wire holding up a telephone pole.

    Also, there are three entrances to the hospital itself, the northern and southern entrances have no guards monitoring them. During the day you can safely drive your car into the hospital grounds and drive around if you want and explore. At night, those two entrances are shut and the middle entrance remains open and guarded. Veterans’ Haven is just behind the gates of the northern entrance.

    As a volunteer, an applicant must go through the same process of background checks, etc. as a regular employee, and as such, I have had the “opportunity” of actually being in several of the hospital’s halls. A candidate employee is expected to show up on two consecutive days to draw blood, take a TB test, take some chest x-rays, and then come back the second day to get results of the TB test. Ancora hospital is one of the creepiest non-abandoned places I have ever been to. The staff look like they are inbred. There was a blond haired nurse there who was arguably the most beautiful one working there, who looked like she smoked crack and had zits all over her face. There were patients being wheeled around, strapped to chairs. The medical equipment looked like it was from the depression. Even the X-Ray machine I had my chest X-rayed with looked like a torture device.

    Reply

  25. Posted by Len on March 18, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    It has been awhile, November I think, since I have been there. Deciding to hide in plain sight, I parked to the side of the main road and walked to the empty houses across from the hospital. This was at night. All of the hoses were trashed by vandals. My friends and I entered a few of them and in some were hospital beds. I don’t know the history of the place, so I assume they were for patients and not employees. We also found some equipment for holding tanks of Oxygen and Nitrous Oxide. I don’t know how long these houses will be standing because I noticed large construction bins for disposing of debris. No pictures were taken as I hadn’t purchased a digital camera until a few months later. Maybe next time if the place is there.

    Reply

  26. Posted by anonymous on March 18, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    Hi my husband has e-mail you before. I just want to let you know I went to the houses across the street of Ancora. I got some pictures. But hope to spend more time there when My husband comes with me. It was day light on 4-19-03 and I had my boys with me. but almost all the houses where open and there is about 25 of them, all the houses where 2 or 3 bedrooms with some of the ones we went into still had beds and clothes

    Reply

  27. Posted by anonymous on March 18, 2009 at 7:28 PM

    You really don’t want to go there. they wont let you walk around. I should know because I work there .

    Reply

  28. Posted by anonymous on March 18, 2009 at 7:27 PM

    My friends and I eventually did go to Ancora. Having never gone during the day we did were not able to see anything in the first drive by. From the stories I heard, I assumed that the place with the abandoned houses was Veterans Haven. This was gated off and had a fence around it, also it had a camera at the entrance. But driving by a second and third time we noticed the houses directly across from the institution, and decided to go in. Upon light shining on the buildings, everyone of them was abandoned. I instantly turned off the headlights and cruised back so that we wouldn’t be seen. We used a small flashlight from inside the car.

    These buildings were some of the scariest I have ever seen, as all the front doors were open and many things were on the inside like refrigerators. Of course my digital camera did not want to work again so I didn’t get any pictures. I am going to be going back again, so I will most likely get pictures this time. I did not stay long for fear of state police, but I did get more than a fair glimpse of the houses. Upon this new info, do you have any idea what these houses were used for. I heard that the houses in veterans haven was for mental patients, but I have no idea what these houses are for. Just curious if you have any idea.

    Also, I might suggest going to visit soon if you wish to check this place out as I have heard that they might be taking them down very soon. Nice talking to you, I will get you pictures ASAP.

    Reply

  29. Posted by Al on May 13, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Jack: Great comments, and, yes, we were friends. (initials JMB, right?) Had some of the best times ever living in Ancora. You will know that I know you because your Dad was a Notre Dame graduate, and I remember hanging out at your house on the day of the ND vs Purdue game every year. It was like a religious moment for Dad. Your Mom usually served breakfast type food for dinner and everyone hunkered down in front of the TV and it was pretty much a given that life ground to a halt for that traditional rivalry. Used to go fishing with you and brother Kirk. One time he and I were flipping rocks into Lake Zoe and one slipped loose and hit him right in front of his right ear-a real arterial pumper-had to get sewn up! One of the best times was skating on the “Seven Lakes” out across the tracks from the dirt road that connected the dump to the yellow gravel hills. We used to shoot bullfrogs out there with our pellet guns. You and your bro always had the newest and coolest stuff first. I remember you having a Crossman 22 cal pellet gun with a 4X scope. You may remember one of the more sadistic of our friends (BB) used to temporarily imprison toads in the the hardened cliff walls you mentioned. Sound familiar? Also, we played tag football supervised by Mr. (police officer) DelRossi in the field across from your bus stop. 3 older sisters, incl one pair of twins, also younger bro, Tommy, right? If you would like to re-connect further, fax your email or other contact info to my secure fax server # 828.330.2026

    Reply

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