THE HOMESTEAD - Saratoga County, New York

brief story at end of this page . . . photos by Joyce Riedinger

The Homestead Sanitarium opened in 1914 and treated patients who had tuberculosis. It operated as the sanitarium from that time until 1960. The original wood building was replaced in 1932 by the brick building which stands today.

Saratoga County Infirmary re-opened in 1961 as a nursing home which closed in 1979.

In the 1980s it was sold by County Officials to a private party and was then left vacant, and evidently forgotten although various plans were floated for its rehabilitation.

In 2019 it was sold again at a tax auction to its current owner from Corinth, Texas.

In May of this year, my son asked if I would like to go on a tour of this historic place. I excitedly said yes as I had driven by it in 2009, saw it in great disrepair, shot a few exterior photos and wondered about its history. So on Saturday, June 29, 2024, my son picked me up and off we went, not knowing what to expect.

We never could have imagined what we were about to experience. The group met in the parking lot waiting for the tour guide to start things off. Dylan, our guide, gave a brief history of the building and added "be careful of your shoes, it might be a bit muddy in there!" And, yes it was. Also, it was full of debris to boot, twisted iron and crumbling plaster. It was dark, with water dripping from some of the ceilings in places. I loved it from the start. I liked the graffiti which presented itself for some great photos. My son was inpressed with the quality of the cement floors which showed almost no cracking. He also marveled at the monolithic construction of the cement ceilings. Even though we saw massive destruction throughout, it was still evident this place had been superbly constructed. Oh! - did I mention the ghosts? If you look carefully, I think the activity of two of them got caught on camera.

So, the big questions are, why was this institution left to disintegrate after the nursing home closed, why did it sit for forty-five years falling into such disrepair. Also, what impulse causes anyone to break into such a beautiful building with such vengeance and cause damage beyond repair?

But more than all that, why did I jump at the opportunity to photograph some of it. The answer is, I liked the artistic quality of the destruction. Until now, I've concentrated my photography mainly on Nature - but wait a minute, isn't destruction a part of Human Nature?

Joyce Riedinger, 29 June 2024