S T A T E N   I S L A N D   M O N A S T E R Y

The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of mystery --Mary B. Yates

Staten Island Monastery

St. Augustine's, Staten Island, New York

explored & photographed by: Shady

The Staten Island Monastery... a legend in the annals of mysterious and abandoned lore, and I was fortunate (and crazy) enough to seek it out and explore it one chilly Autumn day (along with a couple of similarly-crazy friends) St. Augustine's, as it was called, looms abandoned and filled with shadows atop Grymes Hill in Staten Island, NY. It used to be a school for both students and seminarians alike; it closed it's doors sometimes in the mid-to-late 60's. The property is now owned by the nearby Wagner College.

We spotted the Monastery before we even reached Grymes Hill- the vine-shrouded brick walls and crumbling bell tower could be seen here and there through the woods from quite a distance away as we drove nearer and nearer. We wound our way up the steep road that led to Wagner College and the top of the hill; there, in a quiet neighborhood beside the college, we found a place to park the Shady Lady and climbed out. The air was still and hushed; we could not see any trace of the Monastery from our parking place.

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

We grabbed our stuff and began traipsing through the dry brush toward the Monastery, and as we drew near the bell tower and the immense wings of the structure began to peek through the foliage up ahead.

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Slowly, from between the dead, dry branches and towering trees of the forest, the Monastery appeared. And it was huuuge. I mean really, really immense. My heart began to thud-thud-thud in my chest as I stood looking up at the place, it sure did look foreboding... *gulp*

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

The main building was made up of three 3-story wings laid out in a sort of U-shape, with the tallest point capped by two turret-like towers being right in the center point of the U, and two long wings stretching out along either side to form a sort of enclosed yard in the middle. This is where we found the infamous, Celtic-shaped fountain that we had heard about...

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

We also found some evidence of "occult"-like activity... inverted pentagrams and other strange symbols were splashed in paint around the outside of the Monastery, and we spotted the remains of fire pits and animals parts strewn about the grounds. That's when we started to get a little bit nervous about venturing inside the dark, desolate structure. Of course, that was provided that we could get in... we had yet to find an accessible entrance, and the stern NO TRESPASSING signs posted all over the place didn't do much to encourage us.

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

The first possible point of entry we found was a very small, very dark basement window. We considered it for a moment, before saying NAW- there had to be an easier way to get in! So we kept looking. We walked all around the outside of the Monastery, finding window after window completely and effectively boarded up. We did see an open doorway at a second-story balcony, with a two-by-four propped beneath, evidently used as a kind of ladder to gain entrance via the balcony. We thought about it for a minutes, then had visions of the brittle, aged board snapping in half as we climbed it and impaling us, and rejected the idea. We would just have to keep looking...

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

After searching high and low through the crumbling brick and creeping vine, we finally found it- an entrance! Hidden behind a stand of tangled brush we found a wide-open window that we could climb through into the shadows beyond. We looked at each other a moment, as if to say are we nuts or what? Then, before we could psyche ourselves out of the idea, we went through the window and into the nearly pitch-black Monastery. I went first...

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

Staten Island Monastery

We found ourselves standing inside a vast, drafty, oh-so-DARK chamber with hallways leading off into blackness in every direction. Feeble, watery sunlight barely illuminated our own hands right in front of our faces. It was right about this time that we realized we had both forgotten to bring our flashlights with us. Oh boy. This was gonna be fun...

FOLLOW US INSIDE THE MONASTERY

 

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