By New York Natives Staff

Will Ellis is an urban explorer, photographer, and amateur historian. His photos gently pull a forsaken New York into focus, depicting incredible buildings that the less adventurous among us may never otherwise lay eyes on.

Most recently, Ellis visited the Staten Island Farm Colony to chronicle its decrepit dormitories. In addition to taking the fantastic photos above, he wrote extensively about the colony’s purposes and its unique place in New York City. Here’s a cut:

At the center of Staten Island lies a bucolic expanse of ancient forest, a city-owned amalgam of parks, scout camps, and overgrown lots collectively termed the Greenbelt. It’s an area known for its natural beauty, its murders, and its ruins—on the southern rim, off Brielle Avenue, there’s not one but two historic hospitals that are crumbling to oblivion. The grounds of Sea View Hospital and the New York City Farm Colony may be the most forgotten quarter of the forgotten borough, representing New Yorks’ highest concentration of derelict buildings, with over two dozen scattered through 300 acres of mostly wooded land.

What’s left of the Farm Colony only comes out in the winter—from May to November, thick greenery conceals the battered rubblestone facades of its twelve remaining structures—over forty years of neglect, trees have reclaimed the grounds.  The forest bends when the wind gusts, groaning like a legion of creaky doors.  In areas that had once been cleared for farmland, thorns amass in undulating hillocks, hooking and scoring the flesh of any who dare to trudge through the overgrowth.  Some of the vines have adhered to the ruins of the oldest buildings, whose interiors have almost completely collapsed, leaving only a tangle of splintered beams and nail-studded boards. If you peek through the window of one of these wrecks, there’s a German Expressionist nightmare of canted doorways and lurching walls.

If you want to learn more about the history of the Staten Island Farm Colony, its current popularity with paintballers, or just check out more pictures, make sure to hit up Ellis’s site: Abandoned NYC.

Photos and excerpt republished with permission from Will Ellis.