Town of Smithtown, Suffolk County
Grandly situated at the entrance of Nissequogue River State Park, York Hall is one of many significant historic structures built between 1890 and 1960 at the former Kings Park State Hospital/Psychiatric Center. York Hall is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Kings Park State Hospital/Psychiatric Center Historic District.
Constructed at a time when over 90% of the Kings Park community lived or worked at the Psychiatric Center, York Hall represents the deep connections between the former hospital and its surrounding community. While patients used York Hall for recreational activities, performances, and plays (theater and drama were viewed as both therapeutic and a means by which to keep patients active and socially engaged), town residents used the building for community meetings, holiday celebrations, dances, receptions and other social activities. York Hall continued to serve as a civic center into the late 1990s, when the New York State Office of Mental Health decommissioned the hospital and transferred the property to the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
In recent years, the condition of York Hall has severely deteriorated due to deferred maintenance and lack of comprehensive planning for the site’s future reuse. Nevertheless, the building retains its character-defining elements as well as its prominent place in local memory. Recognizing York Hall’s great potential for revitalization as a 21st century arts center and mid-sized performance space, SPLIA and members of the Kings Park community are ready to work with State officials to explore possibilities for restoring the building to public use.
Preservation Long Island advocates for York Hall to be stabilized and securely mothballed as soon as possible while a rehabilitation plan comes together and potential public-private partnerships with arts organizations and other groups are explored to revitalize the facility.
York Hall needs your support! Having stood vacant and largely abandoned since 1996, the building urgently needs to be stabilized and secured from further vandalism. As part of the Phase Three demolition/revitalization work at the former hospital site, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (Parks) propose constructing a new 26,000 square-foot DEC Marine Resources Headquarters nearby York Hall. More information can be found HERE.
No plans are proposed to secure or preserve York Hall.
Bringing DEC Marine Resources Headquarters to Nissequogue River State Park is a wonderful idea, and a great way to promote stewardship of marine resources at the park. However, the current proposal appears to be more focused on short term budgetary factors than long term stewardship goals. Because New York State has not yet created a comprehensive Master Plan for Nissequogue River State Park, it is unclear how the proposed Phase Three work will achieve the best possible outcomes for park visitors and the surrounding community.
The new DEC facility will have a total footprint of at least 3-4 acres, including extensive parking lots; it will be built in one of the most beautiful sections of public parkland with spectacular views of the Long Island Sound.
More historic hospital buildings, all eligible for the National Register, will also be demolished as part of the project, including the architecturally distinctive Building 40 near York Hall, as well as existing marinas to build a new marina. Nevertheless, rehabilitating existing structures has been proven again and again, to be the greenest, most sustainable choice for redevelopment over the long term. Reuse can also be the most cost-effective.
Help save York Hall from further deterioration and damage! Help preserve some of the most spectacular public parkland on Long Island! Voice your support for protecting both the environmental AND historical resources at Nissequogue River State Park. Ask the DEC, Parks, and our elected New York State officials to stabilize York Hall AND identify an alternative site for DEC Headquarters within the 521-acre park that would reuse rather than demolish another historic structure in prime parkland.
The DEC and Parks will accept comments on the proposal until November 30, 2017
Email your comments to:
Or mail your comments to:
205 Belle Mead Road, Suite #1
East Setauket, New York 11733