If you are of a certain age in Verona you remember the Essex County Hospital on Fairview Avenue, a one-time psychiatric facility that was also known as Overbrook. Generations of Verona kids grew up singing Christmas carols to patients or redirecting those who had wandered over the grounds to the Verona Pool.
The first buildings at Overbrook were constructed more than a hundred years ago, from red brick fired in Newark that was often shaped into Dutch Revival-style stepped gables at the roof. The complex’ giant firehouse, located on the western side of Fairview just past the Verona border, was perhaps the most emblematic of the style.
And soon it will be gone. Essex County has begun the demolition of the firehouse, and the remaining buildings on the site. The hospital was closed in 2007 and patients were shifted to a new facility near the corner of Grove and Bradford avenues. The eastern side of the property–between Fairview and Grove–will be redeveloped by Hovnanian Enterprises into the site of 460 townhouses surrounded by a ring of green space along the old Erie-Lackawanna railroad trail. (The railroad ran there in large part to deliver supplies to Overbrook in its heyday.) The western side should revert back to woodlands as part of the Hilltop Reservation.
WierdNJ has written a fascinating history of Overbrook, which you can read here.