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The Tales from the Abandoned Monastery on the Hill

History tells us that the St. Augustinian Academy, located in the Grymes Hill section of Staten Island, NY, was once a boys’ high school that closed in the mid 60's, and later became a religious retreat, which was abandoned in 1985. Wagner College, which is adjacent to the school now owns the property and is thinking of using it for student housing. Our readers, however, tell much different tales about what once went on at, and under the deserted old parochial school.

Better known in area lore simply as “The Monastery,” the school has been the inspiration for countless chilling tales and the chosen destination of a generation of late night thrill-seeking adventurers. Now surrounded by neighborhoods of suburban houses with manicured lawns, the all-but-forgotten fortress is shrouded by a tangle of overgrown weeds, vines and gnarly trees. Turkey vultures circle lazily overhead, occasionally landing to roost on the Monastery’s crumbling bell tower, where they keep a watchful eye over the long dead institution.

Abandoned Monastery Roadtrip

Although I live in New Jersey, I have made many trips to New York, mostly Staten Island, and in my travels I have heard of an abandoned monastery there. One Saturday my friends and I all piled into three cars and headed out to this abandoned monastery. We drove up this winding road through this quaint neighborhood, and in the middle of it, on a secluded hill surrounded by trees, stood this huge church-like building. We walked up in front of the monastery and the door was wide open. We put a piece of wood in front of the door so it wouldn’t close. It was very scary. There were long staircases and many many basement and sub levels.

Walking up the main staircase there was a lot of graffiti and Satan signs. The building also has no roof, which makes it like a scary movie. In the back is a fountain shaped like a cross, and there are many stories of Satan worshippers gathering there. It is a very scary and interesting place, and I am sure it has a story behind it. –DAVEJKLIM

Spooky Staten Island Monastery

I live in NJ, but I know a good place to go to. It’s in Staten Island, New York. It’s an abandoned monastery in a dark forest. It’s so scary and big. There are three floors and the basement goes down at least 10 floors underground. Rumors are there are dead bodies down there, which is probably true because there’s the worst smell in the world down there. But no one dares to go down to the lower levels below the basement. While you’re there you hear footprints behind you, people talking, and some people even see ghosts. It’s really spooky! –T.

10 Stories Beneath the Old Monastery

I don't live in Staten Island, but I went there one time with my friends. People told me about an old abandoned monastery about 15 minutes away from the bridge. I live in Bayonne, NJ about five minutes from there. The story about the monastery goes like this: About sixty years ago a bunch of monks lived there in solitude and silence. But there was one monk that went crazy and went on a killing spree, massacring all the other monks and dragging their bodies down to a secret sublevel (the monks slept in sublevels underground, people say they go down 30 floors) and mutilated their bodies. People say if you

want to see the monks’ ghosts you have to go down to the last sublevel at night. So we wanted something to do on a summer night like any normal teenagers, but this night change our lives forever.

We went down the road to the monastery and went around it exploring the outside, too scared to go in just yet. There were a lot of Satanic signs and gang graffiti. Finally we got the balls to go in, but it was so dark inside that if we shut our lights off we couldn't see our hands in front of our faces. The building consists of three floors, two wings and whatever is below. We went upstairs first. It was dark and creepy but there had to be at least thirty rooms on each floor. We saw that the roof had caved in and there were holes in the floor that dropped down two floors. There were also bloody animals wrapped in cloth hung from the ceiling. It was creepy. We were all scared and really didn't want to go on, but every now and then we heard the sounds of chains dragging and a banging and the opening of a door behind us. No one was saying anything, but I knew I wasn't the only one that heard it.

Next we found stairs going down, so we proceeded that way. There was a kid with us that kept pushing us to go on further. He was leading us, so we followed him down three flights of stairs to the sublevels. The stairs were wooden and shaky as we were walking down. At about the third sublevel we found the monks’ quarters. They were very small and cramped. The strange thing about the rooms was the walls had all scratch marks down them that looked like fingernails were imbedded in them.

Then we came to a room blocked by wood. Behind the door were small stairs that looked like they went on forever. We followed the stairs down about ten floors, and they were really starting to shake now. We entered a room where there were what looked like jail cells. It was getting a little too scary so we left.  –CP11 2

Getting Subterranean at the Monastery

I was recently reminded of the stories my Staten Island native friends used to tell about the abandoned monastery. As soon as you see the place you can tell it was the home of some kind of religious group. There have been rumors of Satan worshippers meeting in the monastery, but they are not the only ones that have been there. For years, kids have been going up to the monastery near Wagner College, throwing up graffiti and partying, but not too many have been to the sublevels. A short walk around the building will reveal an out of commission fountain, which seems to be in the shape of a cross, but now is chipped and the home of dozens of weeds for years. Naturally an abandoned building in Staten Island has tons of graffiti on the higher levels but as you travel lower and lower under the surface, signs of life become less and less evident. The underground hallways are a maze that travels God only knows how low beneath the surface. On one trip investigating a flooded seventh level below the surface, we found a giant stone in the middle of a room where the ceiling was not at all caved in and neither were the walls. In the same room we found candles and something that made the hairs stand on the back of my neck; marks on one of the ancient wooden doors as if it were locked from the outside side and someone had tried to claw their way out of the room.

What happened in the ancient abandoned monastery? I have heard many stories but I only know one thing for sure. If you make your way to the last underground chamber all your questions will be answered.  –Dale N.

The Monastic Life

I was a postulant at Augustinaian Academy from fall of 1964 through spring 1965. This is the same building you know as the Staten Island monastery. I have the yearbook and of course recognized the monastery right off.

In 1966 the postulants were moved to Melvern prep in PA and the school was shut down. It was indeed a strange place. I felt I was being taken over by evil spirits before I ever heard the word "possession.” I was 15 years old at the time and I kept requesting from the Father Prior that I leave, but he would not notify my family. In those days incoming and outgoing mail was censored, and there was little means to send a message home that was not intercepted.

Many Fathers and Brothers laughed at my strange behavior as I was well into a mental breakdown, which to this day I have not completely recovered from. Back in the sixties the popularity of minor seminaries was declining, although there were several seminaries in NY at the time. Somewhere close by was a Franciscan minor seminary. Augustinians were friendly with Franciscans; we despised Jesuits and nuns. –Ted Bergeron

You can read more the St. Augustinian “Monastery” and all of New York’s other legendary abandoned places in our book Weird New York.

Weird New York


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