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What was founded as the Essex County Lunacy Asylum evolved from a single building on South Orange Avenue to a city within itself in Cedar Grove. It was named the Essex County Overbrook Hospital. Construction began on the hospital's iconic brick buildings in 1896, and they were prominent features on Fairview Avenue for the next 100 years. The facility produced its own food, housed its own police and fire departments, and sustained its own power sources. The Essex County Overbrook Hospital was recognized throughout the world as a leader in psychiatric care. In later years, overcrowding began to plague the institution. However, after the advent of modern psychiatric drugs, many patients were able to be discharged back into the community. In 2007, the buildings were closed, and the hospital was relocated to a newer establishment nearby. The grounds have since been plagued with vandalism and neglect, with a final deal for demolition having been solidified in 2015.
About the Author
Author Kevin R. Kowalick, photographer and historical preservationist, has had a particular fascination with the hospital for many years. He has spent those years researching and documenting the historical facility. Coauthor Kathryn Cataldo has worked with numerous media outlets to gain historical recognition for this facility and other similar institutions.