Bayley Seton sits on the site of Staten Island’s first hospital, the Seamen’s Retreat, opened in 1831 by the U.S. Marine Hospital Service to provide care for retired sailors, military and otherwise. A row of colonnaded buildings from that era still stand, at least partially in use and currently under renovation. The Seamen’s Retreat continued in operation for 150 years, soon adding up two asylums to the campus and later, quarantine facilities originally orphaned by anti-immigrant rioting in Tompkinsville in 1857 and 1858 (when the mobs succeeded in burning the prior hospital to the ground). In 1887, the NIH began in a single attic room in the main Marine Hospital, originally used for bacertiological research by Dr. Joseph J Kinyoun, before being expanded and transfered to Washington following new legislation in 1902. Sometime in the 1930s, an initiative by Franklin Roosevelt saw the campus expanded into the Staten Island Public Health Service Hospital, which opperated until 1981, when it was closed by Ronald Reagan and purchased by the Sisters of Charity New York, who rechristioned it Bayley Seton.
Today, several more rounds of new facilities, closings, and changes of hands have left the hospital running at a lower capacity and with an uncertain future. A ruptured oil tank has left the soil contaminated. The Nurses Home and other out-buildings stand boarded or sealed. The Salvation Army is currently seeking to purchase part of the campus for use as a recreation center complete with 500-seat auditorium, swimming pools, and a “lazy river”. And in one corner of the property, the aging, long-closed Victim Services building — seemingly a halfway-house like lodging — leers at the street through thick overgrowth. The elaborate four-story house, complete with wrap-around porch, piano, eerie half-height attic bathroom, paintings (made by patients?) and, for some reason, cases and cases of holiday decorations, seems to have been closed for quite some time, but I haven’t been able to find any mention of it or its history.