WASSAIC STATE SCHOOL BY HARRY C. STORRS, M. D.~ SUPERINTENDENT
The Wassaic State School, which was established by Chapter 44 of the Laws of 1926, March 4, 1926, was opened as a separate institution for mental defectives January 7, 1931. For some months previous to that time a small colony of working patients of Letchworth Village had been housed there. During 1925, and for a few years previous, overcrowding in the institutions for the feebleminded had become quite acute, and there was a steadily increasing demand for admission to the State schools. Especially were these demands increasing from the metropolitan district. To meet the situation it was deemed necessary to build a complete new institution, and the Commissioner for Mental Defectives with a committee began investigating sites. After several proposed sites had been investigated, two large farms in the Harlem Valley within the township of Amenia, just south of Wassaic Station, were selected and purchased in the spring of 1925. Afterwards, additional acreage from another farm was added to the original property. The new institution, whic~ is 80 miles from New York City, was intended to serve the metropolitan district primarily and also the counties east of the Hudson. Because of the restrictions due to the New York City water supply it was difficult to obtain a more accessible site. The institution is served by the Harlem division of the New York Central Railway, the track running through the property for a distance of a third of a mile, giving good railway service and a spur track. The Harlem Valley runs north and south, and is for the most part quite narrow, occasionally widening to a breadth of two or three miles. At the site of the institution, the valley itself is quite wide, and on both the east and the west are hills with wooded tops, cultivated land running half-way up the slopes. In the center of this valley a ridge rises to an elevation of over 100 feet above the level of the Ten Mile River and Webatuck Creek, which join within the property; on this ridge the dormitories and main buildings of the institution have been constructed.
WASSAIC STATE SCHOOL
All of the buildings are of absolutely fireproof concrete construction. The finish is made to resemble adobe, and the general architecture is along Spanish lines, most of the roofs being fiat. To avoid the fiat appearance of the concrete, the plainness of the exterior walls has been broken, on the sides and front; and about the entrances has been placed some terra cotta ornamentation. In the valley on the level with the railroad track, are located the utility buildings, power house, storehouse, bakery and two farm colony buildings for 50 working boys each. These colony buildings are separate units, not being connected with the power house for heat or domestic hot water. There is also on the lower level a two-story dormitory for employees, known as a mechanics' home, which will be occupied primarily by men connected with the engineering department and probably also by any other men employed directly in the storehouse, garage, and other utility buildings. Near the stream is the disposal plant, which is a modified form of the Imhoff tank system. The water supply is obtained from seven driven wells in a meadow to the north of the institution, where is located the pump house. The wells are about 180 feet deep and deliver an excellent water, except for its high degree of hardness. On the highest point of the ridge is a 300,000-gallon water tank, to which the water is pumped directly, and from this tank it flows by gravity to every part of the institution. Near the power house is another, 1,000,000,gallon, emergency tank with pumps in the power house re~dy for use in case of necessity. The power house is a modern plant, equipped with four Frederi ~ s o n stokers which appear to be functioning quite satisfactorily. All the buildings except the two farm colonies are heated from this system. All domestic hot water is heated in the power house and delivered to the buildings, a separate line running to the laundry to insure a constant supply of hot water there. From the generators electricity is delivered as power to the electric pumps at the pump house and to the various motors operating elevators, laundry, ice machines, fans, as well as furnishing light to the whole institution. A shop building near the power house is at present under con-
HARRY C. STORRS, iYf. D.
struction, and here eventually will be housed the electric, plumbing, steam fitting, carpentry, painting and blacksmith shops. The laundry, a three-story building, is situated on a rise of ground about half-way in elevation between the buildings on the lower level and those in the main part of the institution. The main part of the institution consists of two groups, male and female, each made up of six dormitories with a capacity of 200 each; and two so-called infirmary buildings for those of low mentality, with a capacity of about 100 each. Two more of these buildings are planned for each group. The six dormitories are placed three on each side of the group in line, facing three on the other side, the infirmary buildings being across the end of the group; and in back of these in a curve are four employees' homes. This makes roughly a double horseshoe-shaped arrangement of the buildings, with the open ends toward each other, and in this open end is the central kitchen and dining room building of each group. Between these two kitchen and dining room buildings it has been planned to locate the administration building. The dormitories, each for 200 children, are in the shape of a square ' ' U' ', two-story buildings containing four wards, day rooms, and water section units complete. On each side of the front, upstairs and
WASSAIC STATE SCHOOL
ployees and opposite this on the other side cold storage and various utility rooms. On each end of the kitchen is a room equipped with dish-washing machinery and extending from each of these rooms are three dining-rooms for 200 children each, the plan being for the children of each dormitory to come to their own diningroom. Between the two kitchens is planned a circle, at the rear of which would be the administration building, facing the main entrance of the institution. Behind the administration building is one five-story staff house, which has been completed, and two more are under construction. Between the staff houses and groups proper a site has been selected for the school buildings, one for the boys and one for the girls. These are very badly needed by the institution at present, as we have no assembly hall, school, or gymnasium and are therefore considerably handicapped in the entertainment of the children. No site has been selected for the hospital, which will soon be necessary. The buildings under the original contract, which were recently completed, have a capacity for 2,300 children, and those at present under construction will add 600 more to this number; these should be available by the first of next year, making a capacity at that time of 2,900. Four infirmary buildings to hold 100 children each, which are located on the plans but have not been contracted for, will add 400 to our present capacity, making the ultimate capacity of the institution 3,300. Admissions at present are being made almost entirely by transfer from the other overcrowded schools for mental defectives. We have at the present time 96 boys in the two colony buildings. Fifty girls have been admitted to one of the dormitories in the main part of the institution, and both boys and girls will be received from now on as fast as the buildings can be made available.