About Save Ellis Island

Save Ellis Island

Our mission is to raise the funds needed to rehabilitate and repurpose twenty-nine historic buildings on Ellis Island for a new and exciting purpose.


The Ellis Island Hospital Complex and the Baggage and Dormitory Building

The need to preserve and re-purpose the unrestored buildings on Ellis Island is not just about restoring abandoned buildings. As a place of learning and intellectual exchange, Ellis Island may again become a place that changes us, a beacon against the darkness of ignorance, bigotry and anger – it will continue to remind us where we came from, and tell us who we are.

By bringing new life to a powerful symbol of America’s national ethos of freedom and opportunity, we give relevance to a much more diverse audience of citizens and visitors than ever passed through its doors a century or more ago.

Ellis Island is about our national immigration narrative, a narrative shared by millions more than those who can trace a relative directly through Ellis Island.  

In 1990, following the Supreme Court decision to award 22.5 of Ellis Island’s 27.5 acres to New Jersey, Governor Christine Todd Whitman formed the Ellis Island Re-Use Advisory Committee on the Preservation and Use of Ellis Island.

The Advisory Committee was charged with investigating all potential future uses of the structures on Ellis Island, New Jersey, to examine available alternatives and to maintain, restore, and put to beneficial use the structures on Ellis Island, New Jersey in a manner consistent with the historic significance of
 the Island.

Save Ellis Island, Inc., the National Park Service private sector non-profit, was formed to raise the funds to execute the restoration and beneficial re-use of the twenty-nine historic unrestored Ellis Island buildings.

Save Ellis Island, Inc. is incorporated and doing business under the laws of the state of Delaware with offices located on Ellis Island in the Historic Hospital Laundry Building and Branchville, New Jersey. Save Ellis Island’s objective, in cooperation with the National Park Service, is to restore Ellis Island in its entirety and create a viable, sustainable re-use that offers the maximum public benefit that is reflective of Ellis Island’s importance in the history of the United States.

Retored waiting room aboutThe organization has raised over $70 million for the restoration and rehabilitation of the twenty-nine hospital and outbuildings of the Ellis Island Hospital Complex and the Baggage and Dormitory Building. To date Save Ellis Island has restored the marine corridors connecting the north side of the island to the south side, the magnificent Ferry Building and the Hospital Laundry Building and continues to work towards the goal of preserving all of the historic Ellis Island buildings.

Save Ellis Island is dedicated to providing excellence in education by developing and administering programs for children in grades k through 12, college students and the public. We take great pride in our on-site programs in preservation, immigration history, art, literature and science. Save Ellis Island is the recipient of numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks in American History and Culture for Professional Development Workshops. We estimate that well over 300,000 students have benefitted from these programs. The buildings provide an exceptional opportunity to study the history of immigration, medical discoveries, art, architecture, preservation and culture.  

In 2014, Save Ellis Island opened select areas of the historic Ellis Island Hospital Complex to the public for the first time in over 60 years for on-site learning and tours of the complex – the Hard Hat Tour. Since its inception, the Hard Hat Tour has been one of the top travel and tourism attractions in New York and New Jersey.

To celebrate the opening of the hospitals, Save Ellis Island invited French artist JR to bring his exhibit “Unframed” to Ellis Island. JR is famous for his large scale exhibits installed in interior and exterior spaces around the world. On Ellis Island, JR chose over two dozen historic black and white photos of Ellis Island immigrants as his subjects. Appearing like ghosts throughout the Hospital Complex, the large-scale pastings peer back at visitors through doorways and windows. Revenue from the tour and on-site programs provides funding for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the historic Ellis Island buildings.

Save Ellis Island does more than rehabilitate buildings, more than fabricate exhibits, we communicate, tell stories and begin dialogues about those who bravely came before us to help build the country we live in today.

Save Ellis Island
Partner of the National Park Service since 1999
202 Route 206, Suite C
Branchville, NJ 07826

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Rec Pav South about

We have completed the restoration of the Outdoor Recreation Pavilion, built in 1937. The shelter was a gathering place for patients to enjoy social activities and fresh air recreation during their stay in the hospital.

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Rehabilitation Gallery


Hard Hat Tour

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Forgotten Ellis Island by author Lorie Conway

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