7/2003: Morris County has finalized the purchase of 303 acres of the Greystone site, including a host of buildings, from the state for $1.
2008: Recreation fields opened in Morris County’s new Central Park, on the former site of several smaller Greystone Campus buildings. The County purchased the land in 2003 for $1 from the state and demolished all historic buildings on the site.A new $170 million Greystone Psychiatric Hospital also opened on the site last year.
10/2009: The State continues to explore the possibility of a private sale of the remainder of the Greystone complex and land, while the County is also negotiating a possible purchase of an additional 130 acres of the site, including the historic Kirkbride Building. The State is studying the costs of both mitigations of “hazardous materials” and total demolition of the Kirkbride Building. In addition to the park created on the site of many of the demolished historic complex buildings, a new commercial building was constructed and has just opened.
3/2010: Preserve Greystone was one of five advocacy groups involved in a March 25 summit, hosted by PNJ, focusing on reinvigorating advocacy for previously-listed “10 Most Endangered” places. You can find out more about the summit here.
1/2010: State Senate President Richard Codey has announced plans to form a task force to seriously brainstorm preservation of the historic Kirkbride centerpiece of the Greystone property. He plans to introduce a resolution regarding the task force proposal later this month.
6/2010: The state Senate has approved a bill establishing a task force to study Greystone preservation options. Additionally, Preserve Greystone has organized a series of lectures on the history of Greystone in an effort to revive public discussion of preservation and draw added support.
4/2011: Greystone has been awarded a $50,000 New Jersey Historic Trust Grant to help fund the preparation of a feasibility assessment of the potential for reuse of the property.
11/2011: Gov. Christie has announced a plan to spend $27 million on various activities at Greystone. The proposed steps include a commitment to complete a study of the economic feasibility of rehabilitation of the Kirkbride Building. The study will be funded with the New Jersey Historic Trust Grant money announced earlier this year.
4/2013: The NJ Historic Trust-funded feasibility study for rehabilitating Greystone’s Kirkbride Building has been released. The report explored three redevelopment alternatives – historic rehabilitation for 315 apartments, historic rehabilitation for 199 larger apartments that could be converted to condominiums, and historic rehabilitation for a mixed-use facility including assisted living, office space, and a bed-and-breakfast. While the report found that each of these scenarios would result in a net financial loss, the report did not factor in potential incremental financing that could make up the estimated gaps, including easements and smaller-scale tax credits (such as sustainable development incentives). The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit was factored into the report’s financing considerations. The state has now posted a request for “Expressions of Interest” from private developers that might have an interest in redeveloping the property. The deadline for Expression of Interest submission is May 30, 2013- further information can be found here: http://www.state.nj.us/treasury//dpmc/greystone_reports.shtml
The Greystone campus covers a square mile. Its 43 buildings offer a remarkable record of nineteenth and twentieth century institutional and residential architecture.
The complex’s outstanding structure is named for Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, a pioneer in the treatment of mental illness who devised its floor plan. From 1876, when it opened, until 1943, when the Pentagon was completed, the Second Empire Victorian Kirkbride Building was the largest structure under one roof in the United States.
Dr. Kirkbride believed that patients should recuperate in a calm setting. Their light, airy rooms afforded views of a soothing landscape punctuated by elaborate flowerbeds and fountains.
Greystone was once a self-contained community that included staff housing, a post office, fire and police stations, a working farm, vocational and recreational facilities, and its own gas and water utilities. The campus is a monument to the history of the treatment of mental illness. Pioneering efforts in occupational therapy were undertaken at Greystone, and the foundation of modern psychosurgery was laid.
The site still houses some patients, but many of the buildings are vacant and in need of repair. Ten have already been demolished. A section of the Kirkbride building flooded recently, and the gas plant is nearing collapse.
For several years, Morris County has been negotiating with the State of New Jersey, which owns the complex, to take over vacant structures for non-profit agencies. Some adaptive reuse plan must be arrived at soon before this nationally significant institution is gone.