Brisbane State Child Treatment Center

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Brisbane State Child Treatment Center
Opened 1947
Closed 2005
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Location Wall, NJ
Alternate Names
  • Arthur Brisbane State Child Treatment Center


Arthur Brisbane was a distinguished New York City newspaperman who died in 1936. He bequeathed 1,200 acres in Wall to the state of New Jersey, which turned much of it into Allaire State Park. The original plan was to turn his mansion and surrounding buildings into a convalescent home for World War II veterans.

On November 1, 1946 the Children's Unit of Marlboro State Hospital was moved to this property and continued as a satellite of Marlboro State hospital. By authority of R. S. 30 :4-177.1 it became a separate institution on July 1, 1947. Subsequent experience led to the recognition of the need for an open type residential treatment center for pre-adolescent mentally ill children in addition to the children's units in State Hospitals.[1] In 1947, Brisbane opened as a state hospital for the observation, care and treatment of children with mental illness between the ages of 5 and 12. The hospital continued serving as an inpatient psychiatric facility for children under age 14 until the late 1980's. At that time, the Adolescent Unit at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital was closed as a result of the Slocum v. Perselay litigation and Brisbane began functioning, as it currently does, as an acute, psychiatric inpatient facility for youth ages 11 to 17 years.

Following the death of an adolescent patient in the Adolescent Unit at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, the Public Advocate filed the Complaint in Slocum v. Perselay on June 27, 1986, in New Jersey Superior Court, Law Division, Mercer County. The action, in lieu of prerogative writ, sought declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent further harm to the children hospitalized there caused by improperly trained staff, lack of proper supervision, improper use of restraints, overuse of chemical restraints, lack of fresh air and exercise, and the failure to identify or develop appropriate and less-restrictive placements.

On May 20, 1988, a Consent Order with Partial Stipulation of Settlement and Dismissal was filed, requiring the complete closing of the Adolescent Unit at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital by December 31, 1988. Incorporated into the Consent Order was the State Plan for the Establishment of Regional Psychiatric Programs for Seriously Mentally Ill Children and Adolescents, dated February 1987. This Plan called for the development of: 40 additional CCIS beds statewide to serve all children who required inpatient care at the regional level for the first 28 days; post-28 day inpatient care; mental health services for 5 to 10 year olds; mental health services within the Division of Developmental Disabilities and in the Department of Corrections at Jamesburg; and a 40-bed unit at Brisbane to serve as a "Statewide Back-Up Unit" for severely mentally ill adolescents in need of extended hospitalization.[2]

The child treatment center had a rocky history. In 1998, a 17-year-old patient was killed after being placed in a "basket hold" by an employee after she became upset. The state ruled the hold contributed to the patient's death, but a grand jury declined to indict the employee. An Asbury Park Press editorial at the time called the center “a place to dump adolescents with serious mental problems, rather than a place where these young people can get suitable treatment.” Shortly before it closed for good, a 2004 report from a panel of child welfare experts concluded that Brisbane "patients are at constant risk because the facility is overcrowded, in poor condition, offers little treatment and employs unqualified workers.” In 2015, the Department of Children and Families removed dozens of boxes containing patient records that had been left in an unsecured building after the Press reported on them.

The main hospital building was heavily damaged by fire May 31, 2020 and demolished shortly after.


  1. From the State of New Jersey Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey, 1970