Zelda Fitzgerald’s Sanatorium. Beacon, NY.

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7 Craig House Lane.  Beacon, New York, 12508

Once built for the Civil War officer General Joseph Howland in 1859, and called Tioranda, the gothic house was turned into America’s first privately licensed psychiatric hospital in 1915. Closing its doors 17 years ago in 1999, it has lain abandoned ever since.

Bordering the forests of the highlands overlooking the Hudson River, the hospital was surrounded by over 60 acres, including a now deserted swimming pool, gymnasium, and golf course. Once reserved for the very wealthy, this is the sanatorium where a desperate novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald took his beloved wife Zelda, suffering from the early stages of schizophrenia, in search of a cure in 1934. As her condition worsened and the bills became unmanageable, Scott arranged to have her moved to a cheaper hospital, the Highland in Asheville, North Carolina. Seeing each other for the last time in 1938, Scott moved to Hollywood to work as a writer, where his increasing alcoholism led to his death in 1940. Zelda died in 1948 when a fire broke out in the kitchen at Asheville hospital. Locked in her room awaiting electroshock therapy, she burnt to death.

Others seeked out help at the Beacon, NY Sanatorium as well, fairing a macabre ending within the building walls. Frances Seymour, wife to Henry Fonda and mother to Jane Fonda, committed suicide here, cutting her throat with a razor in one of the turrets in 1942. Rosemary Kennedy was sent here after her controversial lobotomy when she was just 23 left her with the mental age of a two year old.

Photographed August 2016.

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