The New York City Farm Alcohol Treatment ColonyAlcohol & drug treatment in the Hudson Valley is certainly not a new undertaking, but in 1912 it was considered not only cutting edge but a necessity by some localities.

As often has happened, the needs of nearby New York City pressed the Hudson Valley into service as a plan was devised to remove some of the cities most hardcore inebriates and drug addicts to a “colony”. The Colony for Inebriates was ultimately dubbed the New York City Farm and the program was administered by the New York City Board of Inebriety. The then cutting edge alcohol & drug treatment program was considered to be one of the first of its kind in the nation.

Property for the alcohol & drug treatment colony was purchased on what at the time was Durland’s Farm in the vicinity of 900 Kings Highway in Warwick, NY. NYC purchased 800 acres for the then tidy sum of $75,000.00. Another $5,600.00 was allocated to repair the farmhouse. A needed $200,000.00 for new buildings and equipment was not forthcoming from NYC (is anyone surprised at that), so in 1914 the Farm opened its doors to six inebriant residents who lived in an army tent and had no real working equipment to farm with. After a number of months, a shack was built on the property which allowed the program to accommodate an average of 21 residents.

Later in 1914, additional funds were received which allowed the Colony to house 400 residents with a daily census of 81 residents. I was unable to find any specifics on the course of treatment provided at the New York City Farm. Considering the times, the treatment was likely to include rehabing the body and mind by work and fresh air. A New York Times article in 1917 states; “To restore their general health and rebuild their physical efficiency, they are kept at the farm for sixty days.”

The 1916 Annual Report from the State Board of Charities includes this statement:

“This institution in plan and purpose is unique among the public institutions of New York City, and is still in large measure an experiment, but the results thus far seem sufficiently promising to warrant its continuance.”

So, what ever became of the alcohol & drug treatment program and the New York City Farm? When Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920, the powers that be decided that the program was no longer needed since alcohol would no longer be available (boy did they miss the mark!), and the facility was closed. The property later became a boys’ reformatory school before converting to an adult medium-security correctional facility, Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, in 1977. The correctional facility is now closed and I believe that the State of New York is searching for a buyer.

All told, this pilot alcohol treatment program in the Hudson Valley was considered a success and did serve as a model for other programs.

The Sojourner