by Jim Brown

On February 10, 2005, a group of former residents of St. Joseph's Village, who met on the Yahoo discussion group, got together to walk the long glass enclosed corridor for the first time in about 40 years.

I want to share the experience we had that day with you now. You are about to take a virtual tour of the place that you spend much time in as a child. You will see things that will bring back many fond memories and some not so fond.

Much has happened over the years. The buildings have been extensively modified, in some places beyond recognizability, and in some they remain so much the same you could feel yourself being a child again within these walls. To the best of our current knowledge, we will describe how the different buildings are being used today.

NOTES: All information in this tour is as it was in 2005. Bergen County is no, longer operating the various social service programs at the site and the site is quickly going into ruins as it awaits to be sold and demolished.

It is best to follow the complete tour starting here. If later you want to review any portion, see the table of contents on the right (desktop) or at the cnd (small screen devices).

Our Tour Begins at the entrance off Pieramount Rd., Rockleigh, NJ

The stone sign is still there with the words:


After the Village closed it doors for good in 1972, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark sold the property to the Bergen County Special Services on the condition that it be used to help people. After making considerable modifications, the county opened several human services programs — a 110 bed nursing home, a substance abuse rehabilitation program, a high school for autistic children, and other programs for youth with emotional and behavioral needs.

This was the first glimpse we saw of the Village as we were driven in to a frightening new place. "Would it be any better than the last place I was in?" "How would I be treated?" "Will I make friends?" "How long would I have to stay?" What lied beyond the brick walls that framed the entrance to the long curved driveway?

The big station wagon with wood panels
takes you there, no words are spoken;
before you know it, you've arrived.

-Patricia Lynn Reilly

It was also our last look back when we finally left to either go home to a parent who was then prepared to take on our care, or to a sponsor to whom we were adopted. Again, we feared what the next chapter of our unpredictable lives would have in store.

Off in the distance we saw a complex of many small one story buildings — all in orange brick with a blue strip above the windows.

Today the statue of St. Joseph the Worker, which stood on the front lawn, is gone and what remained for many decades is a crumbling wall and nitch. (See more about this statue of St. Joseph the Worker.)

On the next pages, we will go inside the buildings that holds so many memories from our childhood -- some quite happy, some very funny when we look back, and some, perhaps, very upsetting.

Our First Stop Will be the Administration Building

As we get closer to the buildings we see just how much they changed — they have gotten older, fences were put up, all the windows have been replaced, and some of the colors were changed — but enough has remained in tact to bring back strong memories.

Across the way, the Rockleigh Industrial Park remains and the former Klopman Mills building has recently been totally remodeled into The Jewish Home, Russ Berrie Home for Jewish Living. See their Website: http://www.jewishhomerockleigh.org

We come to the administration building. This is where we first entered as children to be registered and introduced to our new home. It is also here that the central business administration of the facility was managed. The front desk receptionist also operated an old 30s style switchboard with patch cords to connect a rather limited number of extensions throughout the buildings. A single phone was in the corridor of each cottage and an annunciator bell chimed a two digit code to page a sister or staff member to call the switchboard to receive a call. Does anyone remember what the phone number for the Village was? It was 201-768-4000. Now don't everybody triy it, someone will get annoyed.

Today, the building still serves as an administration building for the Bergen County Health Care Center.

The Corridor

As we leave the administration building and begin our tour, we enter the main corridor at the girls end. The corridor runs 7/8ths of a mile, yet it seemed to go on into infinity. It is just as impressive today as we remember then.

This corridor had a profound influence on former Village resident and now author, Patricia Lynn Reilly, when she wrote,

"I love the view down the corridor toward infinity! The corridor-scene reaches beyond the actual events to an infinity, a purposefulness beyond what we see, beyond the stories we tell. The windows provide a glimpse of life beyond the confines of the orphanage. Throughout childhood I desperately longed for an open window, a breath of fresh air, a reminder of the world beyond the four-walls of the orphanage."-Patricia Lynn Reilly

Looking down the main corridor from the girls end, we see that it has been changed in several ways. Most notably, the blue painted steel beams and lolly columns have been painted white in all but the girls end and the floors have been re-tiled differently in different segments of the corridor. The continuous unobstructed view from one end to the other is often blocked when the newly installed fire doors are closed at intervals along the corridor. The old drafty aluminum windows, like all the windows throughout the buildings, have been replaced with a modern thermal-panes. You can see a good shot of them in the photo on the front page of this Website. Space heaters have been placed at the ceiling in many places to provide much needed heat. Many conduits have been run along the ceilings for the new fire alarm system and power to new outside security lighting.

In the stretch passing the girls cottages, the corridor now has railings to aid the elderly of the nursing home.

This was the starting point for that long fast bicycle ride when you thought nobody was looking! One evening, Sr. Frances had me run an errand to the infirmary on her bike and upon returning, I treated myself to the roller coaster ride of my life at high speeds back to the Senior Boy's Cottage. How exhilarating, and I made it without hitting anyone or getting my head cracked open on one of the lolly columns and ending up in the infirmary.

Now we come to the next stop on our tour, the infirmary.

The Infirmary

The infirmary now provides health and other services for the nursing home as well as bedroom accommodations for 20 of the center's residents.

The play room in the Infirmary was originally separated from the hall by a glass wall along where you see the counter. It is still a "play room" or recreation area for the nursing home patients.

The building has been divided up to accommodate a total of 20 beds.

Many patient rooms of the infirmary still serve as such for the nursing home residents. The dental office was behind one of the doors on the right along with examination rooms.

Across from the infirmary were the girls cottages. We're going over there now.

The Girl's Cottages

All three girl's cottages are part of the Bergen County Health Care Center and each now accommodate 30 residents.

You would hardly know this was once the Senior Girl's Cottage! Major renovations of the interior were made. We are standing at the corridor door end of the cottage hallway. The right wall of the hall was removed along where you see the drop in the new ceiling. The door to the laundry room was at the first counter. The center counter is about where the bath and shower room was. The last counter is where the house mother's living quarters were. The room at the end of the hall replaces the vestibule leading to the outside. Along the left wall were the dormatories which are now divided into smaller patient rooms. The Intermediate Girl's and Junior Girl's Cottages were renovated likewise, each to accommodate 30 beds.

Along the left wall were the four dormitories with dorm one being to the extreme left.

From the windows of the senior girl's dorms, they saw this view of the large front lawn. The back of the shrine of St. Joseph blocked the view of the spot where many kids went to sneak smoke or get a kiss.

From the patio in front of the statue, we see the gas station on the corner and beyond that was the Pegisus riding academy across Piermount Rd.

Behind the gas station and along the service road to the maintenance building is now a cluster of houses that were built to provide independent senior living quarters in connection with the nursing home.

Just beyond a road that was added more recently that cuts across the front lawn, we see all three girl's cottages starting with the seniors.

In all three cottages, the two dormitory wings that had two dorms each were divided down the middle with a hallway that runs along where our closets were. Small patient rooms were build on either side of each new hallway. You can see the new fire exits that are now at the ends of the new halls. The house mother's and prefect's living suites were also converted into patient rooms.

On the left is the Senior Girl's Cottage. The linking corridor is in the center and a new garbage utility structure has been built at the end of the main corridor just outside the end most entrance to the infirmary. The roof of the Chapel can be seen in the distance.

Here is another view of dorms one and two of the Senior Girl's Cottage. The right photo shows a peek at the original blue paint that once covered all the boards above the windows. All the building associated with the nursing home had these boards painted brown and all of the other buildings have been maintained in their original blue. We do not imply any poor maintenance on the part of the nursing home. In fact they have made our former buildings quite beautiful for the enjoyment of the senior residents. We probably caught this "archaeological" find just before this spring's round of painting.

This is the other side of Senior Girl's Cottage with dorm four on the right. Unlike the inside, the outside remains quite recognizable.

This view of the Senior Girl's Cottage shows the playroom on the left.

Come spring the seniors of the nursing home will continue as we did to enjoy outdoor recreation in the beautifully maintained yards between the cottages. The swings have been removed and benches have been added as they need them more than we did. On the right is a portion of the senior girl's playroom.

Walking down a little further we come to the Intermediate Girl's Cottage. Notice that the original door at the end of each cottage was removed and the new windows start lower on the wall than our original dorm windows did.

Dorm four of the Intermediate Girl's Cottage is on the left and the Senior Girl's Cottage is in the distance and shown closer up in the right photo.

With the junior girl's dormitories to the left, we see the back of the Chapel in the distance. A new chain link fence now helps keep these areas between the cottages safe for the seniors to enjoy the outdoors. Hey, guess we could jokingly say, they are more locked in more than we were!

As we get to the end of the girl's cottages we come to the juniors.

Lets go back across the main corridor to the Chapel.

The Chapel

In designing the Village, the sisters wanted the Chapel to be at the center of the complex as it was to be the center of our religious life while there.

The bell tower still has it's three bells and the massive stained glass window remains.

Three mounting brackets on the front of the bell tower once held the giant cross. Much of the brickwork is showing its age here and throughout the whole complex.

The corner stone was laid two years before the Village's completion in 1958 when the home for dependent children was dedicated on October 26 of that yesr.

Lets go inside...

The chapel now serves as a general purpose recreation room and auditorium for the nursing home. The residents enjoy games, outside entertainers, crafts, and movies.

The clock on the balcony wall has been removed but the remnants still bring us back in time.

The alter remains and is now a table for games and crafts. A cutout is still on the back alter where the tabernacle was mounted. The rear curtain has been removed allowing the air conditioning units to be seen. Small crafts projects sit on the lattice work behind the alter. The alter itself may have been the one from the nun's chapel and the main alter removed. There is heavy glue remain along the entire perimeter of all the walls in the chapel indicating that something was adhered to them from floor to ceiling at one time since the Village.

Except for the pews being replaced by tables and some clutter in the sanctuary area, it almost looks as if Fr. McFarland is about to emerge to say Sunday Mass.

Off to the right side an original lighting chandelier can be seen. The confessional booths were also in that area. The lights in the main portion of the chapel have been replaced with high energy-efficiency type and are much brighter.

A big screen TV in church... Not if Sr. Jarlith was still around.

The stations of the cross are gone as are all the statues and crosses, but the mounting brackets for the stations remain.

The chapel front doors still depict religious icons.

The alter rail is removed and its mounting bolts can still be seen in the terrazzo floor. Yellow adhesive caution tape now marks the edge of the step up and a wooden ramp allows a wheel chair to get up onto the stage. A small piano leads the nursing home residents in sing-a-longs.

No, those are tables, not pews. Here we see the lighter colored terrazzo that was under the pews and mounting holes for the pews can still be spotted in the floor.

It is most likely an activity director who has their desk in the far side-alter area.

Why didn't we have a popcorn machine? It would have come in handy during a long sermon.

The nursing home is non secular, however they chose to let the stain glass windows remain for their beauty and character they give to the room.

The organ is still in the choir loft and could easily belt out "Holy, Holy, Holy" once again. Past president of the Garden State Theater Organ Society, Donald Hansen said, when he saw these pictures, that there is still a lot of music in those pipes.

Several weeks after our tour, Hansen put me in touch with Bob Martin who later worked with me on making a few minor repairs and tuning to bring this organ to life again. A leak in the roof over the chamber caused plaster to drop into the DC power supply, so we made a temporary shroud over the power supply. We hope that the county will fix the roof and protect this memorable organ. (Update as of around 2020: Upon hearing of Bergen County vacating the buildings,John III and Frank Peragallo, of the Peragallo organ company who originally build and donated the organ, rescued the instrument from iminate doom and now have it in safe keeping in their Paterson, NJ factory.) 

All but a few of the small flute pipes remain and are in excellent condition. A few are slightly bent.

From the pulpit that once stood in this very spot, the chaplain gave us words for renewed spiritual strength in our lives. Now a treadmill, which sort of looks like a pulpit, gives seniors exercise for renewed physical strength for their remaining life.

Follow me now as I take you outside of the convent. We can't go in, you'll see why in a moment.

The Convent

Next we come to the convent. As kids we were not allowed in the convent except if we had chores there. Well that is still the case today as it is being used as Touchstone Hall, a 50-bed adolescent residential treatment facility serving chemically dependent males ages 13 to 17 years of age and is operated by the county's Vantage Health System, Inc. under contract with Bergen County Special Services.

The residents of the drug rehab program are all dressed in white shirts and dark ties, apparently to break them of their drug and street attitudes associated with their former individualized attire. It is an interesting parallel that the nuns who once lived here were also uniformly dressed in black habits with white headdress. We could get into how the reasons have some interesting parallels in as much as the need for each to remove individuality for a more noble cause. But that's another discussion.

This section of the corridor is just outside the convent going toward the cafeteria which is our next stop.

The Cafeteria

Today the cafeteria kitchen prepares meals for the nursing home. The cafeteria dining room is used by the resident students of the Touchstone program.

Notice one of the many new fire doors along the main corridor. This one is just as we enter the cafeteria building. This is the tallest point along the corridor. The utility space below the hallway for the heating pipes is also the tallest at this point, enough for an adult to stand. Yes, the rumor is correct, there was a tunnel under the Village (We could have excaped!), or at least we could say, a crawl space, to service utility lines. It was entered through passages in the local utility equipment rooms in each building. At times the hallway itself was referred to as the tunnel, thus contributing to the children thinking there was a tunnel below the Village. In that way the Village was a bit like Disney's Magic Kingdom!

In the above right picture, the Guild office that handled fundraising was to the right and behind of the camera. The staff cafeteria was to the left in a building that was referred to as the Coffee Shop. The door on the right was to the beauty parlor that had a few shampoo sinks but was hardly used as such. Sometimes a visiting barber would cut the boys hair in there and other times did do so in the barbershop that faced into the main corridor from the school building. The barbershop had a few barber chairs and the barbers came ready with their clippers and sweet smelling hair-tonic and everyone got the classic tapered sides, part, and a wave in the front.

In the left photo is the cafeteria building hallway near the main corridor entrance looking toward the kitchen door at end. Many remember working in the dishwasher room to the right and the pot room to the left of that door.

The Silver Sink
swallows you in its bigness.
In it, you scrub pots during the day;
at night, it's your warm bubble bath,
the stains of the day disappear down the drain;
cleansed, you are safe in its moist darkness.

-Patricia Lynn Reilly

Just beside the kitchen, the shelves are now empty in one of the two walk-in refrigerators.

As we enter the kitchen, the giant hood over the ovens and stoves remains. The big black industrial stove and large pizza style ovens are gone and in their place are these more modern units that heat individual dinners for the nursing home patients. The rotating utensil rack still is in use.

Much of the kitchen remains the same. It is a good possibility that the industrial bakery mixer and other appliances and tools are the same ones we worked with when being assigned to kitchen chores. In the foreground is a modern version of the portable electric powered steam heated carts we used to transported hot food to the convent, staff dining room, and the Givernaud Cottage. They plugged into electric cables that hung from the ceiling while they were waiting to be delivered.

The Silver Cart
with a cow on the platter
and unnamed gifts from the sea,
moves on its own, slowly down the long road,
stopping to feed the children.
Only in the night, undetected,
do they dare eat from the silver cart.

-Patricia Lynn Reilly

Remember the oatmeal and Farina! Well isn't ironic that we should find a few containers of Quaker Oats sitting right there in the fryer. A good cheep and nutritious standby for institutional dining!

The Women Wearing Hair Nets
stand behind the counter.
They make grilled cheese
and give you pudding for desert.
The goldfish and turtles join you.
In the night they're set free and give lectures on life before the tank.

-Patricia Lynn Reilly

The food service line is still in use by the residents of the Touchstone program. The counters are new but occupy the same location. The green glazed brick walls remain a memorable feature of the kitchen.

This is the dining room where we learned quickly how to get rid of food we felt was not fit for human consumption while avoiding the lecture about how there are starving children in Japan. Getting seconds for foods we liked was met with the story that there were other children who must still get their food. The seniors, because we were nearer to the kitchen door, got lots of seconds!

Originally the room had folding dividers which separated the seniors at this end, intermediates, and then juniors at the far end. Boys were on the window side and girls on the other. Shown are two of the three exit doors to the hall.

An ice machine and food service counters were recently installed along two walls on the senior end of the room.

The Touchstone program students get to eat in air conditioning! There are new ceilings, windows, and furniture. Those pictured are not residents of the program but people on our tour who are blurred for their privacy so we could show you this view of the room.

This is the only remaining original water fountain. It was set at child's height. Our tour group had to stop and take note of this object that they likely drank from as a child.

This is the other end of the cafeteria hall looking from dining room end. The Givernaud kids ate in a smaller dining room on right. I believe they had their food brought into them on one of those electrified carts.

In all of the buildings, the sub-floor radiant heating system was replaced by circulating water radiator systems that are supplied by local boiler rooms in each of the building such as this one in the cafeteria.

The area between the cafeteria and the maintenance building continues to accommodate delivery trucks for the kitchen. The space beyond the black top was once a garden where the nuns planted flowers and vegetables. Notice in the distance the corridor linking to the Utility Building which is now almost windowless. In the foreground is a broken up cement slab which may have been for some type of recreational use during the Village time.

To the left is the Utility Building. That is our next stop on the tour.

The Utility Building

The complex is stilled served by the Utility Building which was behind the Cafeteria Building.

We are now in the corridor leading to one end of the cafeteria and then on to the Maintenance and Utility Building. The cafeteria door is just beyond those newly installed fire doors.

The Old Man of the Corridors
follows you everywhere; he says you steal everything.
The old woman, his wife, lives in a storeroom
with twenty wedding dresses, trench coats, and knives,
bought at midnight in Filene's basement.
In the dark she gives you twenty-dollar bills and scarves.

-Patricia Lynn Reilly

The length of corridor leading to the maintenance building was painted brown, floor tiles removed, and most of the windows replaced with solid insulated walls. It's still cold and now more institutional than ever.

Once inside the Utility Building you are greeted with a relic of the past! High up in the hallway is this panoramic photograph of St. Joseph's Village. Although it is quite faded, you can easily see the statue of the Blessed Mother outside the Chapel, the flagpole, and many other recognizable features stretching from the Infirmary to the Gymnasium. You can see an electronically restored image of this panarama on the head of many pages of this website. 

Once the workshop of former Village maintenance man, Tomas Rooney, it is now the domain and of Don Heward who has a love for the buildings and their history. Don was eager to spend a whole day taking us on a tour and sharing many stories of his experiences during the building's post-Village years. His help was vital to the production of this virtual tour on the Web. The center picture shows the laundry room which once housed giant industrial washing machines and steam powered pressing machines. It is now is a maintenance store room. The shop equipment may have been from the wood shop in the gymnasium building. The sinks in the laundry room now serve as paint cleanup slop sinks.

On the second floor were apartments for staff members who lived on premise. Below is a bank of garages. In this building was the main boiler room which generated low pressure steam that was distributed through pipes below the corridors to all of the buildings for heating. Most rooms were heated with radiant heat from pipes berried within the concrete floors. The boiler room also generated high pressure steam for the laundry room's huge presses that ironed bed linens.

At one end of the maintenance building is the Village bus garage. Many may remember riding in this old un-air conditioned school bus. We made fun of it, especially when it was hot and sticky riding home at the end of a trip to Rockaway Beach. But it still got us there and other places like the New York World's Fair, numerous Christmas parties, and other memorable days away from the Village.

A new electrical service entrance provides the added power for the greatly expanded electrical needs of the complex today.

Again we head back inside to the corridor intersection at the cafeteria where there was the school.

Mother Evangelista School

Mother Evangelista School was the name of the on-premis elementary school at the Village. At various times in the Village's history, students attended an "outside school" such as Nathan Hale in neighboring town of Northvale.

We are now directly in front of and our back to the school doors where the main corridor branches off to the right leading to the cafeteria.

At the same intersection we are looking towards the girls end and in the right photo we are looking in the opposite direction towards the boys end. The barbershop door is directly to the right of the camera and cannot be seen here.

The doors on both sides are locked, so we can't get in today. I am not sure but I believe this must be still used as a classroom building by the kids in Touchstone program that is in the convent.

The staff cafeteria is on the left, the school with its eight classrooms is in the center, and the gymnasium can be seen in the distance in the right photo.

The left photo shows the main corridor in the distance between the staff cafeteria on the left and the school on the right. The right photo shows the other side of the school with the library just visible to the far right.

While waiting to enter the school in the morning and after lunch, the children assembled on the blacktop area from which this picture was taken. A hand bell signaled for everyone to line up by class. In the distance is the two story convent and to the right is the staff cafeteria building.

The candy store which once sold school supplies and candy is now an office. Remember receiving an allowance of fifty cents and every time you were bad, the cottage sisters would punch a hole in an allowance card to deduct five cents from that weeks allowance. After a while, it was discontinued when the nuns got tired of administrating it and the kids taking it as a joke and misbehaving anyway. They stuck with other harsher punishments.

Another few steps down the corridor we come to the Givernaud cottage.

The Barbara Givernaud Cottage

Many former reisdents still have vivid memories of their early childhood stay in the Barbara Givenaud Cottage. The Village was built to replace three orphanages operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph: St. Joseph's Home for Boys at Englewood Cliffs; St. Joseph's Home for Girls in Jersey City; and the Barbara Givernaud Orphanage in North Bergen.

At the Village, the Givernaud boys and girls lived in one building, but at each end of the cottage.

Everything has changed from what we remember! Instead of our kindergarten, it now reminds us of high school. That's because it is now a high school for autistic teens called the Washington School Program and the "New Bridges Program." Lockers line the halls, the colors are more institutional, and new windows replace the ones that used to view into the outdoor play areas between the three playrooms on the left side of the corridor.

Outside the three playrooms was a black toped play area.

Today the blacktop occupies the entire area and is a staff parking lot for the high school and has been enlarged and connected to the road beside the maintenance building. Back then much of this area was not blacktoped but had a large grassed area with playground equipment. The bed and crib rooms were along the back wings of the building with the girls on the left and the boys on the right. Two of the three playroom wings can be seen to the right.

Another room in the Givernaud Cottage now serves as a small cafeteria for the high school teens.

In Catholic environments, harsh and often cruel punishments for even the slightest infraction were commonplace. Here, two former Village residents demonstrate the pose: Stand erect for long periods before the statue of the Blessed Mother. No talking! Hands out to your sides like this! Head looking up at her face! And pray for forgiveness!

But life in the Village and here in the Givernaud Cottage also had its happier moments filled with laughter and play.

The three playrooms are now used as classrooms for small group individualized instruction.

One could hardly imagine that this room is where they once played with an abundance of toys and other children. Looking closely at the today picture you can see the that the orange brick of the left wall is below a coat of white paint. View this picture long enough to see it animate between then and now.

Special education classrooms now occupy the former bed and crib rooms, this one on the boys side.

The rooms are still visible through the observation windows along the hallway.

This is a bathroom on the boy's wing of the Givernaud Cottage. A door which once lead to the tub room is closed over where you can see that the tile pattern does not line up. The tub room itself is now part of another room. Notice how low the pipes come out from the wall under the sinks — there is a reason. These are the old sinks but were raised from their original children's height using white PVC extensions on the drain pipes.

New adult size urinals replace the original ones in the boys room. Notice new floor and wall tile where the floor was ripped up to make the change. Key operated light switches were throughout the buildings but that did not stop even the Givernaud kids from discovering that a bent paperclip did the job.

A new entrance on the boy's side of the building was made for the New Bridges Program.

This is the back side of the Givenaud Cottage.

Continuing down the main corridor we come to the Gymnasium Building.

The Gymnasium/Auditorium Building

We come to the Gymnasium Building. Neither the outside or inside has changes a lot. I have not confirmed it, but I suspect that it is being used as part of the New Beginings high school that occupies the Givernaud Cottage.

Looking down the hallway in the gymnasium building, the wood shop was on the left and the home-ec room which was in name only was on the right. It was, however used for certain events including dances in the mid 60s that had live bands and allowed the senior boys and girls got to mingle under the vigilant eyes of the nuns and prefects.

A weight lifting room now occupies the wood shop where Mr. Lampert once led shop sessions in the evenings for the senior boys.

Whow! This room hasn't changed at all! Band equipment still is in use in the band room by teens in the special-ed programs that use the facilities today. This room surely brings back memories of marching in the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City and at the New York World's Fair. It was also one of the few opportunities for the boys and girls to be together. The room was locked necessitating shooting through the glass which reflected the corridor and now adds a ghost effect bringing back memories of the happy times rehearsing and performing for our marching band.

Some of the most memorable moments at the Village were when the children performed on this stage under the musical direction of many talented adults. Concerts and fund-raising dinners often consisted of musical production numbers from Broadway shows such as Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. The later being most fitting for that time in the Catholic Church and this home for children. Actual theater movies were shown most Friday nights on a full size cinemascope screen.

As writer, I tried not to hog this story with all of my own personal stories, but want to mention that I did a lot of work on this stage in the area of lighting using what little lighting equipment there was available. I was also projectionist for a period of time after Mr. Lampert left.

A view across the gymnasium. Little has changed here except the paint.

A view across the footlight pockets which opened up when in use. New curtains have been installed with an unusually low top valiance.

Two theater style Simplex 35mm optical sound movie projectors with carbon arc lamp houses were in a projection booth at the rear of the auditorium where the portholes were since closed up. The patchwork is evident where they attempted to continue the brick joint pattern. The red lines were added to the photo to show where the two lower projector ports and the two operators viewing ports were.

Across the main corridor from the entrance to the Gymnasium building was a small building containing kindergarten rooms.

Just beside the gymnasium was the swimming pool, our next stop on this tour.

The Swimming Pool

We come to the swimming pool. Since the Village closed it was ued for a period of time by the local residents of Rockleigh. But for the most part, it remains closed behind this gate.

But we are going to take you inside...

The children watched eagerly as construction crews built the swimming pool to be opened for the summer of 1965. It offered the children a most memorable recreation activity as well as swimming lessons and even a swim team. It was a refreshing improvement over the sprinklers in the circular wading pools that were build along with the buildings.

Looking at the pool today, one can almost hear the echo of children singing "By The Sea, By The Beautiful Sea" at the dedication ceremony accompanied by Mr. Hamilton on the piano.

The steps into the shallow end are at the lower left of the photo. Beyond the fence is the playroom end of Junior Boy's Cottage.

The pump area is to the left of the lifeguard chair that is laying on its side.

The dead leaves give the swimming pool an eerie feeling as one can only imagine the sights and sounds of children playing in the water and on the deck in the summer sun. The round part at the shallow end of the pool was a separate infant's wading pool. A tree once stood in that far right corner within an opening in the deck that you can see patched over with a darker cement.

Slats in the chain link fence blocked the view of the pool from the main corridor which allowed the nuns time to shed their black habits and cool off. Many of the kids used to step up on the ledge and hold onto a lolly column to get a glimpse of the nuns in their 1920s style bathing suits enjoying the water. There were more solid slats than the ones you see here.

The Boy's Cottages

Today these buildings are being used for various mental health programs for youth up to 21 years of age with emotional or behavioral special needs.

Just after passing the pool, we come to the last section of the long corridor taking us to the boy cottages.

First is the Junior Boy's Cottage, here looking at dorm one. The Intermediate Boy's Cottage is the next building we see through the corridor windows.

The large blacktop outside the Junior Boy's Cottage remains. That is the Intermediate Cottage beyond the cars and behind that is the Seniors. What is that poking out to the right of the Senior Cottage? We'll hold that story till later in the tour.

Look at that! They build a new building between the second and third dormitory of the Junior Boy's Cottage. Looking in the windows of dorm four we can see straight through to dorm one. They made it into one giant room. I almost missed something else when shooting this picture. Look to the extreme left. They installed a garage right in place of the fifth and sixth bed in the fourth dorm! Was one of these your bed? Well a truck or something parks there now.

Here's another thing I spotted when preparing these photos for this story.

Isn't that nice, they built a planter around a flag pole just outside the Intermediate Boy's Cottage.

Wait just one minute... Not quite... Remember earlier while we were at the pool I mentioned those circular wading pools with the sprinklers? Look Familiar? Look to the left of the pool. There is the square concrete chamber in the ground for the circulating pump.

We see that a swing set and fence was added just after the intermediate Boy's Cottage as we come to the Senior Boy's Cottage, the next and last building on our tour.

The Senior Boy's Cottage

We are now going into the Senior Boy's Cottage which is laid out the same as the Junior and Intermediate Boy's Cottages. Today the cottage is the Archie Hey Village School, a program which serves youngsters with emotional or behavioral special needs. That program may now occupy the other boy's cottages as well.

Here from the main corridor we see the playroom which now has some basketball equipment on its blacktop area.

Lets go inside. The wooden doors with the glass panels were replaced with metal fire doors.

The dorms were on the left and the playroom was through the first door on the right. There originally was a door before that which lead to a sitting room that has since been opened up to enlarge what was the playroom. In each cottage there was an alcove with cubbyhole units in which to leave coats and boots. In the Senior Boy's Cottage, Mr. Lampert removed them to build a train layout for the boys. Today, the alcove is closed over and replaced by that wooden door on the left that now leads to a padded room to prevent patients of the special education program from hurting themself when deemed out of control.

Just beyond that wooden door was dorms one and two that are now divided into several rooms beyond recognizability.

In dorms three and four, the closets between the beds were removed to create a large open classroom for the special-ed program that now occupies the building. View this picture long enough to see it animate to show the row of closets.

The long slab with a cabinet, three drawers, and a desk for each of the six children of the dorm ran along this wall below the windows. An outlet was above each desk for a lamp.

The playroom is now a small cafeteria for the Archie Hey School program that now uses the cottage. Our pingpong table looked and folded up a lot like those tables.

A larger industrial grade kitchen replaces the homestyle kitchenette.

In the grass area just outside the playroom door there remains two of the four cement slabs installed by Mr. Lampert to form a patio with four umbrella tables. White gravel and landscaping surrounded the slabs.

The urinals in the Senior Boys Cottage are original as is all the tile and marble dividers. Two of the six urinals have been removed to add a cabinet.

Even the sinks and mirrors are the same. Nothing here to detract from our being taken back to our past. It was a eerie feeling standing in this room.

Across the hall from dorm four, this door lead to Sr. Frances' living quarters. Each cottage had two such suites that consisted of two bedrooms on either side of a sitting room. Sr. Frances' bedroom was entered through that door in the right photo from her sitting room that now is an office.

Looking down the hallway from outside dorm four.

Just outside this door in the vestibule near dorm four, you could look across the lawn to the woods where the boys once played before the warehouses were built. The boys built a complex of their own consisting of tree houses and other wooden structures. Then the bulldozers came to remove the trees for new the industrial building you see here. But that did not stop the Village kids from ice skating on the frozen over pond that was created by the excavation.

Dorm four is seen there with the new windows. On the right are the two dormitory wings extending off the cottage.

Along side the cottage leading to the playroom is now a driveway for deliveries to the kitchen that is in the new cafeteria that occupies the playroom. It replaces Mr. Lampert's beautiful patio and plantings. I may be wrong, but I seem to remember that Mr. Lampert and the boys also planted those white birch trees.

Here is another view from the Senior Boys Cottage looking back towards the gym. We see the industrial park to the right up by the school blacktop. The parking lot in the foreground is new.

Except for the parking lot and the new windows, this view hasn't changed much at all. Yes, the trees did get much bigger.

On the left, we see the area between dorms two and three where a former senior boy might remember hanging clothes on the line for Sr. Francis. The right photo shows dorm one and the utility equipment room near where the corridor links to the building.

We are at the end of the Village but not at end of our tour as there is more that lies beyond the Senior Boys Cottage.

Beyond the Senior Boy's Cottage

Just beyond the Senior Boy's Cottage, on what used to be an athletic field where the football team once practiced, is a very large building that fills most of the field. It has a footprint larger than any other building remaining from the Village, evident from an aerial photograph. It is the Piermount Career Campus, a job training facility for young adults with emotional or behavioral special needs.

The sewerage treatment plant is gone as far as we know. It was to the right corner of the field and you went over a small bridge to get to it in the woods. We should check that out on a future visit.

Here we see the end of the main corridor where it has its last branch off into the Senior Boy's Cottage.

The solid area that is not brick is an example of the wall sections that were built along the corridors where there once was windows.

In the large field that runs along the boy's end of the main corridor, a ball field has been built for the kids in the special ed. programs. Through those woods, kids used to cut to get to Paris Ave. where they came out beside the Rockleigh Country Club on their way to Northvale.

It is a rather large field and was used rarely back then. Once, a clam bake was held here and a fundraising carnival at this end of the field. An architects rendering of the Village showed several more buildings on this acreage which were never built.

We are now at the Givernaud Cottage end of the large field. That was a dirt road back then.

Now For the Long Walk Back to the Administration Building

We end our tour with a virtual walk back to the Administration Building. I hope you have enjoyed this tour and that it brought back many memories and a sense of closure. This tour is to be a framework upon which to reconstruct your own personal stories about your time within the brick walls and glass corridors of St. Joseph's Village for Dependent Children.