The Essex County Asylum For The Insane

Although it’s only three miles from home, until today I hadn’t visited the spooky former Overbrook Asylum in Cedar Grove, NJ.  Not surprisingly, the long-closed mental hospital is considered haunted, and has been featured in the television shows Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters.

The hospital was built in around 1896,  and grew over time to include extensive fruit and vegetable gardens, a laundromat, and a theater.  It was closed almost forty years ago and has been vacant since then.


The Essex County Sheriff’s Office announced some years ago that the site would be under constant surveillance and any trespassers would be “apprehended and prosecuted.”  Some early accounts do mention “playing chickie with the cops”; but in these days of small county budgets, there are neither police nor even “no trespassing” signs.

Building 3

Most of the interior has been trashed by 40 years of thrill-seekers and vandals.

Chldren's Ward

The Children’s Ward still features Good Ol’ Charlie Brown, as well as other types of wall art.

Hall To Reception Building

This would have been the inmates’ view out of the ward doors toward the Reception Building.

Doctors Only

There’s no longer much competition to park in the Doctors Only lot.

Building 1

Ward 25

Ward 41

Visitors over the past 40 years have reported finding a network of tunnels under the buildings, as well as rooms in which sterilizations, shock treatments, and other “tortures” took place.  Stories are told of as many as 150 escaped patients every year, including one who is said to have threatened a local woman with a hammer and carving knife he found in her home. And, of course, there are reports of ghosts and of former inmates still trapped in the closed wards.  I did have one sighting…of a ground hog, which scurried under the building as I approached.

The complex was set to be sold to developers in the go-go mid-2000’s; but that deal fell through and the area is now slated to be developed into a 90-acre public park.  Let’s hope the ghosts continue to stick around.


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April 21, 2013 · 9:55 pm

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