The Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital was closed July 1, 1998 after a run of some 60 years. Today's Psychiatric Hospital Professionals say that for the most part, people go through state hospitals quickly. They are stabilized, they get care and are moved out. But the people in Marlboro spent long periods of their lives locked away, not really learning anything new and just get getting minimum custodial care. Over 940 patients died at Marlboro and most were buried at a small cemetery across the highway from the Main facility.
August 25, 2009 visit: Efforts to sell the 500 acre hospital property had been unsuccessful and the property was used by the NJ State Police for training.
July 12, 2010 visit: The State Police were gone and an Environmental Investigation sign was posted next to the security guard house.
July 2014. Seeing the gate open and several vehicles inside, I drove in but was stopped by security. Security said they were making preparations to tear down all the buildings. (I did not confirm this with any outside source). This is the main hospital site, not the cemetery.
FIRST VISIT AUGUST 2009
The cemetery is located on the other side of Highway 520 from the main hospital entrance security house. The entrance is easily missed except for a small Monmouth County Park Lands sign next to the cinder/dirt road leading up to the cemetery on top of the small hill. The cemetery is open to the public, but cannot be seen from the highway.
All of the graves, except for one, are marked with just a numbered headstone with no name. Early on, the numbered headstones were the only identification, making it a sort of "cemetery of the unknown". But in 1991, the state built a pavilion that cross referenced the markers with the names in bronze tablets. It is now a more fitting tribute to those who died.
THE MYSTERY OF DOROTHY ?
Walking the cemetery, one can see over 920 markers with no names, just numbers; except for one solitary headstone for Dorothy R. Henson. Wanting to see if there was more information on the bronze register, I checked the before and after markers, because they are all in numeric sequence. The before marker was 303 and the after marker was 305, so I looked up 304. HOW ODD: the name on the register was Dorothy R Hensan, not Dorothy R Henson as it appears on the headstone. Was there a spelling error on the engravers part or a misleading name to shroud even more the mystery of Dorothy ?
On the bronze register I saw that Martino Zambetto, who died in 1931, was the first to be buried in this cemetery. Seeking to photograph the first marker, I found the #2 marker and the #3 marker, but...... the original #1 marker was missing.
CEMETERY RE-VISITED 2011
November 26, 2011. Since posting this webpage over a year and a half ago, I was surprised at the number of hits the page received for what I thought was an obscure subject. I decided to revisit the cemetery to see if there were any changes.
The first thing I noticed was how excellent the Monmouth County Park System cleared the road after Hurricane Irene. It was evident from the amount of downed trees and debris at the side of the road that visitors could not have driven up to the cemetery without the cleanup.
The next thing I noticed was that the cemetery was well maintained, as there were no weeds in and around the markers.
There were three patriotic visitors that remembered those that passed, by planting an American Flag.
I thought, on a slim chance, that someone may wish to see the names of those who died, so I posted them. It turns out that some folks were tracking ancestry and several found their relatives' names here:
I didn't mention this on my first visit in 2010 but there are two different kinds of markers. The first 600 or so had fat concrete and stone markers, after that all the markers were thin and pre-fabricated.
The completed cemetery had a road around the circumference; however, at some point an additional road bypass was added separating the cemetery into two sections. Perhaps because the original road at the bottom was sometimes covered by debris from a large stand of trees? In any event I walked the very first set of markers and found that the plan was to have 12 markers in each row. What I discovered was that in order to put in the new road bypass, markers 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, 108, 120, 132, 144, 156 etc. were missing ? That led to the unanswered question: were there graves underneath, or urns underneath or just markers? At one point in my walk, several markers were completely out of sequence, so perhaps the missing markers were placed somewhere else, but I couldn't find them.
I thought I would cross the street and see if there were any changes to the main site. There is very little to see as the area is off limits. While at the gate a Holmdel Police car was exiting the site and the officer said he was responding to some trespassers who will be given a $1000 summons. The 'No Trespassing' signs are clearly visible.
CEMETERY RE-VISITED FEBRUARY 2012
I received an email from a stranger who found my webpage with a Google search and wanted to know if I could find the marker for James McAvoy #862. I remembered that the higher numbers were located toward the north so I walked the area and finally found the 800 series.
As I walked the 800 series, I discovered a large physical gap on the grounds from about 805 to 890. Oh no... missing markers perhaps?
Not giving up easily, I did more walking and found that the missing 800 series markers were removed from their logical east-west numbered series and installed in a north-south direction parallel to the cemetery road. I found marker 860. 861 was missing, but I did find #862.
Across highway 520, is the hospital itself; however, there is a high fence and the main buildings are far off the road. Next to the cemetery is a church that has some elevation and with a telephoto lens I was able to just make out the main building.
CEMETERY RE-VISITED APRIL 2012
April 7, 2012 visit: After a 10 year search of state records to no avail, it was amazing that a stranger, using a Google search to locate my webpage, found her great-grandmother by viewing the names on the bronze plaques. It finally gave the family member closure and gave me a good feeling for posting the photos.
EMAIL - NOVEMBER 15, 2012
I received an email from a lady who was tracking her dad. She pointed out that the cemetery stopped showing names by the year 1960, but her dad died at Marlboro in 1962. Unfortunately I had no information beyond the photographs that I took, so I did a Google search for information on Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital records and this is what I found:
CEMETERY RE-VISITED AUGUST 2013
At the end of June, I received an email from Matt Steel, who visited the cemetery several times and discovered several abnormalities in the marker numbering system. I missed them on my visits and Mr. Steel documented them for me. Naturally I had to revisit and take photos.
In 2012 I mentioned that grave marker #1 was missing. Mr. Steel found that someone had put it back.
Matt also found this interesting one: there is a marker for #492, #493 and #494; however #493 was missing on the pavilion register.
Then, what's the story on Katy Lanahan #161? According to the pavilion register, she died in 1958, but she was sandwiched into the 1938 group. (I wish I knew how these bronze plaques were made, if it was with automation, perhaps it was a typo on someone's keyboard.)
Last but not least, when you follow the numeric order, one would expect #100 would follow #99, but not so, #113 followed #99. Then, of course, when you expected #113 to follow #112, you found #100.
I would like to thank Mr. Steel for spotting these interesting abnormalities. He has an eagle eye.
(P.S. There was no indication of demolition across the street from the cemetery, at the hospital compound. There were no signs detailing a timeline or any other information about the proposed demolition)
EMAIL - APRIL 2014
From Denise: Thank you so much for creating this web page. I was able to find my Great Grandfather, Adolph Miller plot #737 (Typed as Adolph Willer). His death and where he had been buried were a deep family secret!
ADDITIONAL EMAIL - APRIL 2014
From Marion: "I worked there (as a teen) the summer of 1956 as a clerk in their Admin Office/Admissions--in the main bldg. I typed up the court and voluntary commitments for the hospital files as well as the board discharge interviews held Fridays. The main bldg. had some beautiful paneled rooms with leaded glass windows. I encountered a few of the patients who had very diverse problems from one who screamed all day by her window, possibly Alzheimer's back then, to the a very elderly woman w/dementia in a lock down unit. One of the biggest problems was bedwetting by the patients (I don't know why). They would take the patients outdoors to small farming areas where they'd work. Occupational therapy? It was common for some to sneak away and have sex in the woods, I was told by a friend who worked there. High functioning patients who were recovering were given jobs in the kitchen/eateries. There were tunnels underneath the compound of bldgs. we used sometimes to get to the snack bar or small cafeteria.
I would say they had a peaceful life there especially the ones who returned who couldn’t function outside the gates or in their families. I’m sorry to know about the many who spent the rest of their lives here, but I’m sure it was a peaceful existence. (The campus/grounds were patrolled/fenced with a security manned gatehouse when I worked there)."
EMAIL - MAY 2014
From another former employee: "When I just read the comments about the lady who worked at Marlboro State Hospital It brought back memories. I too worked there when I got out of high school in 1965. I worked there for 5 yrs. I worked in the filing dept on the admin/office floor as a clerk. I also agree the place was quite beautiful then and I even had my engagement party there in the main big room on the same floor. Back then I remember the switchboard operators where using the long pull out rods that they connected to the board they would put into when a call came in to one of the depts.. The switchboard operators where at the very top of the stairs when you came into the building. At times there were patients who would run down the hall begging for a cigarette. Some of them would be out of control. Some of us would walk to the back room and see the hearse pull up from the outside and would take a person out of the morgue. I remember they found a dead body in a car in the parking lot one time. The tunnels were scary you would often find patients walking through them or they would be making love with another patient. They had one building near the main building that the jail people lived. They could be seen working around the building. I really did not go into the cottages. But there was many of them. The priest who worked there was a very kind handsome man. I believe the head doctor who worked there was called Mr Stone. Not sure since it has been many years. Rumors went around that he use to do horrible things to the ladies who just were admitted. He did physicals on them in a bad way. I remember a friend of mine worked as an aid and he saw the other aids hitting the patients. I am sure it happened many many times to these poor patients. And who will you believe the workers aid or the mental patients. Yes, the patients would walk through the gate and be seen in a dept store running around and the police would have to be called. I was sad to see these patients in the mental state they were in. That was not even living to me. I often think of the employees I worked with. I am sure many have passed away. It would be nice to find the ones that are still on this earth to share the memories we had at Marlboro State Hospital".
EMAIL - JULY 2014
After a 4 year search, another gentleman found closure on his biological father.
EMAIL - DECEMBER
2015 - Can anyone help Elizabeth ? : Hi, I found your e-mail on the web site
PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL. My grandmother was placed in there
from Greystone on October 30, 1931 and passed away in
Marlboro October 28, 1970. She was from Italy and did not
speak any English as I can imagine that there was very
little communication. My brother went to visit a friend and
seen my grandmother’s name he asked to see her but he could
not understand her, the only thing she responded to was when
he mentioned my mom (Agnes) she said to him Agie. That is
all he remembers. I was reading an e-mail from a young
person that she worked there from 1965 to 1970. I was
wondering if you would e-mail her to see if she remembered
my grandma. I never meet her so I am looking to see if I
could find out a little about her. My grandma’s name is
ANNINA PERRETTA, however, I think she was listed as: Annie
Paretti. My grandma was 84 when she passed. Thank you so
much for any information you can provide. Elizabeth
Hi, I found your e-mail on the web site for MARLBORO PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL. My grandmother was placed in there from Greystone on October 30, 1931 and passed away in Marlboro October 28, 1970. She was from Italy and did not speak any English as I can imagine that there was very little communication. My brother went to visit a friend and seen my grandmother’s name he asked to see her but he could not understand her, the only thing she responded to was when he mentioned my mom (Agnes) she said to him Agie. That is all he remembers. I was reading an e-mail from a young person that she worked there from 1965 to 1970. I was wondering if you would e-mail her to see if she remembered my grandma. I never meet her so I am looking to see if I could find out a little about her. My grandma’s name is ANNINA PERRETTA, however, I think she was listed as: Annie Paretti. My grandma was 84 when she passed. Thank you so much for any information you can provide. Elizabeth McMillan e-mail: email@example.com