State Transfers Middletown Psyche Campus to City

MIDDLETOWN – Senator James Skoufis (D-Orange County) joined Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Middletown), City of Middletown Mayor Joseph M. DeStefano, and local stakeholders on Monday for a signing ceremony of property transfer documents, officially shifting a long-derelict portion of the Middletown Psychiatric Center Campus into Middletown’s care. This transfer of 33 acres and 13 buildings serves as the keystone in Middletown’s effort to redevelop the site in full, and follows more than ten years of bureaucratic stalling that Skoufis was helpful in dislodging this year.

First opened in 1874 as a first-of-its-kind hospital for homeopathic treatment of mental disorders, the ‘Psyche Center,’ also known as Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital or Middletown State Hospital, was a more than 200-acre campus that housed and treated over 4,000 patients at its peak. It was frequently lauded for its open-door policy for residents and community members alike, and for its innovative and humane approach to care, which included outdoor farming activities for patients and the storied ‘Asylum Nine’-a patient baseball team that was the pride of Middletown in the early 20th century.

City of Middletown Mayor Joseph M. DeStefano signs the quit claim deed, officially transferring 33 acres from the state to the city of Middletown.
City of Middletown Mayor Joseph M. DeStefano signs the quit claim deed, officially transferring 33 acres from the state to the city of Middletown.

Since its closure by the state in 2006, parts of the campus have fallen into various states of disrepair, leaving them susceptible to the elements, safety hazards, and all manner of illegal activity that has strained city police resources. When the City of Middletown was drawn into Senator Skoufis’ district, he immediately got to work putting pressure on the seven state agencies involved in the transfer to disrupt the state’s unreasonable gridlock and get the deal back on track.

“Despite the clear need to improve safety, reduce strain on law enforcement, and–most of all–return this property to a state of productive and beneficial use, New York State dragged its feet for a decade,” said Senator Skoufis. “When my team and I began to understand the Mayor’s vision for what this site could and should be, its central position as a community hub, and just how long the Mayor had been stifled by the state’s inaction, we knew we had to step in. I’m thrilled this day has finally arrived and look forward to seeing what city leadership and stakeholders accomplish on this site in years to come.”

“It was depressing watching many of these beautiful buildings, our history, deteriorate almost to the point of no return,” said Mayor DeStefano. “We requested Senator Skoufis get involved; after all, it was 10 years of discussions, letter signings, and more discussions. He made it work and we are here today with a plan to expand this amazing college, add city police and fire services on this campus, and create other economic development opportunities for the city.”

Over the years, some of the hospital’s buildings were sold off, rehabbed, and now house health, education, social services, and other organizations. Fei Tian College, which has beautifully renovated several buildings to date and offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs, owns the largest share of acreage on the site and has committed to continue its renovations and expansion once the transfer is complete. Assemblywoman Gunther, who served at Middletown Psychiatric earlier in her career as a nursing student, was instrumental in helping to secure the $1.2 million Restore NY grant in 2022 which led to the development of Fei Tian’s Student Center.

“The importance of revitalizing areas like this one cannot be understated,” said Assemblywoman Gunther. “I’d like to thank Fei Tian, Northern Academy, Northern Medical, and the City of Middletown for collaborating on the reactivation of this campus. I look forward to seeing this campus become a hub for people of all ages, and I look forward to seeing a lasting impact that will serve future generations.”

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