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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

Dark History: The Cemeteries and Abandoned Hospitals of Beacon, New York

Late in 2022 we were lucky enough to be hosted in Beacon, New York by two amazing friends. They were nice enough to bring us around to some of their favorite historic cemeteries and haunted locations. I’ve been releasing videos and posts all month on the history of this town, so I wanted to round up all of that information here.

The first spot we visited was the abandoned Dutch Reformed Church Graveyard. It sits at the bottom of a steep hill behind the still active church. The church opened in 1859, and is the oldest still active church in town. Unfortunately, you can see many of the stones and mausoleums have fallen due to lack of care and maintenance. Set against the fallen leaves, this cemetery looks much farther removed from town than it is. Especially considering the active congregation on the same property.

We also visited the St. Joachim Old Cemetery. Which was opened in 1866, but the land was purchased the year before in 1865 by James Coyle. Coyle was the first Pastor of St. Joachim's Catholic Church. The land previously belonged to James and Mary Jones. The first person to be buried here was Ignatius Cooley on February 16th 1866, he was 32 at the time of his death. When you walk around, you realize there are many Priests and other religious leaders buried here. Including Rev. Peter McCourt and Sister Mary Alpheus Coffey, S.C. It is no longer an active cemetery for new burials, but it is still open to the public for visitation. There is also a New Cemetery belonging to the same Church, also in Beacon.

Finally, we looked (from afar) at what used to be Craig House. Many years ago F. Scott Fitzgerald brought his wife Zelda to this Victorian Mansion in search of a cure. This beautiful, abandoned building was originally built as a mansion in 1859 and later turned into the country’s first privately licensed psychiatric hospital. Located in Beacon, NY this hospital offered alternative talk therapies and outdoor recreation as a form of healing. Unfortunately, it did very little for Zelda’s schizophrenia.

Known at the time as Craig House, this building also housed many other patients who did not get the help they needed. Zelda was eventually moved from his hospital to another, where she tragically died in a fire while locked in her room in 1948. F. Scott Fitzgerald died 8 years earlier from alcoholism.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many hidden cemeteries and haunted locations in Beacon. Check out the Buried Secrets Podcast, which covers a lot of graveyards we missed.

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