Saratoga County Homestead, New York’s Forgotten Gem

The homestead's formidable façade

photography by: JJMS Exploring

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While we often associate the US state of New York with Manhattan's iconic skyline, it has far more to offer than just a dazzling urban experience. Nestled within a thick forest, the remote hamlet of Barkersville is surprisingly home to one of New York's well-kept secrets, Saratoga County Homestead. This former tuberculosis sanatorium was abandoned in the 1970's, and ever since it serves a pilgrimage site for urbex enthusiasts, marveling at its awe-inspiring architecture, still apparent despite decades of dilapidation.

Intro

No matter how prepared or experienced you are, when stepping into the forgotten and abandoned world, you never know what will happen. It’s always a risk. We’ve known that from the very beginning. It’s an indescribable feeling of excitement and anxiety. That’s why we do it. JJMS started a couple years ago, after we brought a homemade Ouija board to a cemetery and filmed a video for YouTube. Immediately there was an itch for something more. Cemeteries were too easy. So, we ventured into the abandoned world. We have spent a lot of time exploring the New England area of the U.S, specifically New York because that’s where the four of us are from. It’s a really great place to be for urban exploration. An abundance of resorts, hotels, mansions, houses, hospitals, theaters, etc. Pretty much anything you can think of. We’ve barely scratched the surface.


The Homestead

The Homestead was the first abandoned and reportedly haunted place that we ever set foot in. We didn’t know much about the history or the reports of paranormal occurrences that have happened here, just that it was local and fairly easy to get into. A pretty low risk location for our first exploration. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. “I remember driving by for the first time saying there is no way in hell I am going in there. Absolutely not.’” – Sam. The daunting brick building with smashed-in windows and graffiti covered walls sat in front of us, screaming “come in and play”. The door was wide open, so we went in.

The former sanitarium's entrance door

photography by: JJMS Exploring


The History

Saratoga County Homestead, also known as Homestead Sanitorium or The Homestead, was opened in 1914 as a tuberculosis hospital, serving patients in Saratoga County until 1960. In 1961 it was reopened as a nursing home for a short time before closing in 1979. In the 80’s it was sold by County Officials with the plan of reopening the building as a healthcare related facility, only for it to be left vacant and forgotten. In 2019, it was sold to the current owner who plans to renovate the entire property. As of 2021, no construction or rehabilitation works have begun. Private and Public tours are offered by the owner for those seeking a safe way to explore the property.

The delipidated wooden house of the caretakers

photography by: JJMS Exploring


The Haunting

Whether the old TB Hospital is actually haunted or not remains widely debated. In 2006, a movie called “The Expedition” was released involving a group of Canadian ghost hunters entering an asylum (The Homestead) on Halloween to see what they could catch. Paranormal activity takes place, leading to a member of the crew going missing somewhere in the building, never to be heard from or seen again. In 2019, Travel Channels “Destination Fear” spent a horrifying night in the allegedly haunted sanatorium. The episode aired on October 24th, 2020, with the claims of screams heard and shadow activity darting through the halls. If you ask us, throughout the entire time that we’ve spent there, nothing happened. That’s not to say for sure that it is not haunted, we just weren’t lucky enough to experience anything.

One of the homestead's hallways and its striking state of disrepair

photography by: JJMS Exploring


Our First Visit

Shining our flashlights down the never-ending hallways, the first thing we saw on our right side was a freestanding door surrounded by darkness. Separating us from that door on both sides of the hall were blackened entryways to the patient rooms. We were all in agreement that we felt way in over our heads, but made the decision to press on. Deciding to make a left and saving whatever sat behind that door for later (turned out to be nothing but more dark hallways), we made our way down a hall into a larger room with more windows and a fireplace that said “Hell” with an arrow pointing up. This room was a bit brighter compared to the hallway we were previously in, making us feel slightly more comfortable being there, albeit not by much.

The graffitied "Hell" on the fireplace

photography by: JJMS Exploring


Coming and Going

Daylight was against us for our first trip, so we kept it short and sweet, making the decision to return the following morning. The difference between day and night was just that. At night, the looming presence of darkness followed us everywhere. Every drip of water, creaking of the floor, rustling of leaves from outside had us on edge. During the day, a sense of stillness could be felt through the halls. A calming quiet. Not to mention it was easier to navigate our way around. Details that went unnoticed in the dark became more present during the day. Like the details on the trim work and archways in the theater, or the metal and wooden details on the railings to the collapsed staircase.

The now-crumbling theater hall

photography by: JJMS Exploring


Hooligans

It’s clear from our photographs that this place has been frequently visited by people with the intention of causing damage and leaving their mark. From fire damage to graffiti filled walls and broken windows, this place has seen much better days. And that isn’t even touching on the natural decay. Crumbling walls, collapsing staircases, peeling paint, and water damage are evident. Nature has even found a home here, bringing life back into the now empty rooms where countless people inevitably spent their remaining time on earth.

The broken main staircase

photography by: JJMS Exploring


About Us

The Homestead is where we truly discovered our love for exploring the abandoned world. It’s nothing special. It’s not the prime and pristine bando gold mine that everyone in the exploring community hopes to someday see for themselves. It’s decrepit and rapidly deteriorating. The walls are covered in graffiti tags. It’s an injury waiting to happen. But it’s the place where it all began for us.

 

Our goal is to go in and document locations exactly as they are found. Once in a while we will move or change things for a better shot, but very rarely. We don’t want you to realize we were even there. Our journey has taken us to some pretty incredible places so far, and we hope you’ll tag along with us!

 

You can follow our Journey on Instagram.

photography by: JJMS Exploring