From Linda Lovelace To Mohansic State Insane Asylum, We Answer Your Westchester Questions

Q: Is it true that the movie Deep Throat was filmed in Yonkers, the hometown of its star, Linda Lovelace?
—Joanna Lee-Dankurt, South Salem

A: More than any other pornographic movie, Deep Throat propelled X-rated motion pictures into pop culture. When it was released in 1972, notables like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and even Spiro Agnew discussed viewing the explicit film. Though X-rated material has become almost mainstream in our society today, it certainly wasn’t back when Deep Throat was released.

Linda Lovelace, whose real name was Linda Boreman, was born in the Bronx and moved to Yonkers at age 3. She attended Catholic schools—St. John the Baptist in Yonkers and Maria Regina High School in Hartsdale. The family relocated to Florida when she was 16, before her famed career began. Deep Throat was filmed entirely in Florida, so no scenes were filmed in Westchester County.

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Boreman died from injuries sustained in a car crash at age 53 in 2002. With her 1980 autobiography Ordeal, in which she claimed to have been coerced into adult filmmaking, she moved to the forefront of the Women Against Pornography movement. The year before she died, Boreman posed for a Leg Show magazine pictorial and appeared at conventions where she signed Deep Throat posters and other memorabilia.  

Q: Is it true that the Mohansic State Insane Asylum was torn down because people believed that sewage from the facility would get into the water system and make everyone mentally ill? That is why they built Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, right?
—Aaron Cohen, Yorktown Heights

A: According to the State Commission in Lunacy (yes, that’s what it was called), Mohansic housed 165 “inmates” in several small cottage-like buildings. In order to alleviate overcrowding in New York City’s insane asylums, plans were finalized in 1909 to construct a facility that would house up to 6,000 “inmates.” The asylum was to be built on Mohansic’s grounds in Yorktown Heights, today Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park.

There was a public outcry protesting the building of the facility, the main argument being that the sewage from the asylum would pollute the nearby Croton Reservoir. Remember, this was the early 1900s, before penicillin, and communicable diseases were no joke.

Was there a fear that New Yorkers would “catch” whatever the inmates of the proposed asylum had? Even in the early 20th century, there was a modicum of mental-health sense and nowhere in the newspapers of the times are there references to fears of a contaminated water system transmitting mental illness. The focus and stated concerns were on communicable physical diseases.

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Construction was stopped in 1918 and the Mohansic State Park was created in 1922. It was renamed after Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1982.

Q: Croton-on-Hudson has a pretty colorful history but there’s one story that seems a little too out there to be true. Did Gloria “I’m ready for my close-up” Swanson live in a castle-like home on Mount Airy Road? I also heard that she and a married Joe Kennedy would not only rendezvous at her home but he would also store his bootlegged whiskey there.
—Kaitlin Welsh, Croton-on-Hudson

A: Indeed, Ms. Swanson readied for more than a few close-ups in her Mount Airy Road castle and, if you can believe some of Joe Kennedy’s biographers, it was more than just a camera lens that was in close proximity to Gloria.

According to Patrick Raftery at the Westchester Historical Society, Gloria Swanson purchased a home on Mount Airy Road in 1923. The property is known as Longue Vue Farm, and is situated on the west side of South Mount Airy Road just north of Georgia Lane. She sold it on July 5, 1927. The castle-like structure that currently occupies the property is not, however, the one in which Swanson resided. The original house burned to the ground shortly after Swanson sold it, and the new edifice was built in 1932. 

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Swanson wrote extensively about her torrid romance with Kennedy in her biography, Swanson on Swanson. So did Ronald Kessler, in his Kennedy bio in which he stated that Rose Kennedy believed in sex only for procreation and so the patriarch had to seek it outside the marriage. 

According to our sister publication, Hudson Valley Magazine, Kennedy built a guesthouse on Swanson’s property and hid his bootlegging trucks there. 

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