Abandoned Mental Hospitals in Massachusetts

Psychiatric hospitals and asylums are primarily an invention of the 19th century and are now a relic of it as well. Most asylums built in the 19th century have since been abandoned, demolished and/or re-purposed.

This is primarily due to a deinstitutionalization movement that began in the 1960s which was spurred by three factors: the belief that asylums were cruel and inhumane, improvements in psychiatric medications and the desire to reduce state and federal spending. As a result, these hospitals were eventually closed down and abandoned.

The following is a list of these abandoned mental hospitals in Massachusetts:

Danvers State Hospital

Address: 1101 Kirkbride Dr, Danvers, Mass

The Danvers State Hospital was an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Danvers, Mass that has since been partially demolished and re-purposed into apartments and condominiums.

Built in 1874, the Danvers State Hospital was known as the Danvers Lunatic Hospital until it changed its name to the Danvers Insane Hospital sometime before the turn of the century and then changed it again to the Danvers State Hospital in 1909.

Danvers State Hospital Kirkbride Complex circa 1893
Danvers State Hospital Kirkbride Complex circa 1893

The design of the hospital was based on the Kirkbride plan and totaled 313,000 square feet in size and 1,100 feet in length. The hospital featured a main building, where the administration offices were located, with four wings radiating off both sides of the structure.

Other buildings on the hospital grounds were added over the years until there were about 40 buildings on the property, including a building for tuberculosis patients, a chapel, a laundry building, nurse’s quarters, a pump house, the Bonner medical building and others as well as a maze of underground tunnels connecting them all.

A hospital cemetery was also established on the grounds in 1878.

The main hospital building was shuttered in 1989 and the remaining patients were transferred to the Bonner Medical Building until the entire facility was closed down in 1992.

The hospital remained abandoned for decades until 2005 when it was purchased by Avalon Bay who demolished eight wards of the main building, as well all of the other buildings on the property, and converted the hospital into an apartment building with condominiums on the grounds around it.

Foxborough State Hospital

Address: Corner of Chestnut and Main Sts., Foxborough, Mass

The Foxborough State Hospital is an abandoned treatment facility that has since been partially demolished and re-purposed into condominiums.

Opened in 1889, the Foxborough State Hospital was originally known as the Massachusetts Hospital for Dipsomaniacs and Inebriates, and was used to treat alcoholics, making it the first state-operated facility of its kind.

Foxborough State Hospital in Foxborough, Mass
Foxborough State Hospital in Foxborough, Mass

The main building consisted of a series of residential wards in an L shape, with an administrative building in the center. The property also had a number of other supportive buildings such as a theater building, chapel, farm, staff residences, and two patient cemeteries.

In 1910, the hospital changed its name to the Foxborough State Hospital as it began to transition more towards treating mentally ill patients instead of alcoholics.

In 1914, the alcoholic patients were moved to a new facility in Norfolk (Pondville State Hospital) and the Foxborough State Hospital became a psychiatric hospital.

The hospital officially closed in 1975 and the building was used for a variety of purposes until it was abandoned in 1996.

In 2005, redevelopment of the property began and some of the buildings were demolished to make way for a shopping plaza while the main building was re-purposed as luxury condominiums.

Some of the other buildings were renovated and made into single and multiple-family housing while others were razed completely. A few of the original buildings still remain standing and are unused, such as the former hospital auditorium.

Gardner State Hospital

Address: 500 Colony Rd, Gardner, Mass

The Gardner State Hospital was an abandoned state hospital that has since been re-purposed into a prison.

Built in 1902, the Gardner State Hospital was originally known as the State Colony for the Insane until it changed its name to the Gardner State Hospital in 1935.

The hospital closed in 1976 and the building became the North Central Correctional Institute at Gardner in 1981.

Grafton State Hospital

Address: Worcester, Mass

The Grafton State Hospital was an abandoned state hospital that has since been partially demolished and re-purposed as educational and employment facilities.

The Grafton State Hospital was built in 1901. By 1945, the Grafton State Hospital had 1,730 patients and 250 staff and a sprawling property with numerous buildings.

The hospital closed its doors in 1973. In 1978, the hospital’s former administration building was partially demolished and re-purposed as a veterinary school known as the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Around the same time, the Grafton Job Corps Center opened on the property as well.

Some of the other buildings on the property have been demolish while others have been renovated and re-purposed. One building remains unused and has partially collapsed but the plot of land it is located on is currently for sale by the state.

Medfield State Hospital

Address: 45 Hospital Road, Medfield, Mass

Medfield State Hospital is an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Medfield, Massachusetts.

Built in 1892 and opened in May of 1896, the Medfield State Hospital was originally known as the Medfield Insane Asylum until it was renamed in 1914. It consisted of a total of 58 buildings on 900 acres of land with thousands of doctors, nurses and support staff.

After 1918, a hospital cemetery was built on state land near the Charles River, which still exists in a grove of trees off of Route 127.

Originally constructed to help ease overcrowding at other nearby state hospitals, Medfeld eventually became overcrowded itself by the 1930s and 40s, with over 2,300 patients residing there.

In 1994, the hospital was added to the National Register of Historic places and it officially closed its doors on April 3, 2003.

The building remains abandoned but is still standing. Visitors are allowed to walk the grounds but the building is closed to the public.

Metropolitan State Hospital

Address: 475 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Lexington, Belmont, Mass

The Metropolitan State Hospital was an abandoned state hospital that has since been partially demolished and re-purposed into condominiums.

The Metropolitan State Hospital was built in 1927 and opened in 1930.

The design of the hospital was based on the Kirkbride plan and consisted of a series of nine buildings laid out in a rectangle with an inner courtyard in the middle.

The property also had an administration building, medical-surgical facility, staff housing, morgue and a power plant.

The hospital closed in 1992 and remained abandoned until each of the three towns the hospital is located in began redevelopment plans for their section of the property.

In 2007, the part of the hospital in Lexington was purchased by Avalon Bay in 2007 and re-purposed as luxury apartments.

Plans for the other sections of the property include a golf course or open green space.

The administration building, which is located in Waltham, remains abandoned.

Northampton State Hospital

Address: 1 Prince Street, Northampton, Mass

The Northampton State Hospital was an abandoned state hospital that has since been demolished.

Built in 1856 and opened in 1858, the Northampton State Hospital was originally known as the Northampton Lunatic Hospital.

The hospital was based on the Kirkbride plan and originally consisted of a three story brick building that could house 250 patients.

Northampton State Hospital, Northampton, Mass
Northampton State Hospital, Northampton, Mass

In 1905, infirmary wings were added to both sides of the building and later additions were also added until the hospital became a maze of hallways and buildings.

By the mid-20th century, the hospital was overcrowded with more than 2,000 patients.

The hospital was closed in 1993 and by 2007 the buildings were all demolished.

Taunton State Hospital

Address: Danforth St, Taunton, Mass

The Taunton State Hospital was an abandoned mental hospital in Taunton, Mass that has since been partially demolished.

Built in 1851 and opened in 1854, the Taunton State Hospital was originally known as the Taunton Lunatic Asylum or the State Lunatic Hospital at Taunton, and it was the second psychiatric hospital built in the state, following Worcester State Hospital which was built in 1833.

The building was based on the Kirkbride plan with a main building that housed the administrative offices and several wings attached on each side of the main building.

The hospital closed down in 1976 and the administrative building in the center of the complex burned in 2006 and was torn down. The only part of the building that remains are the wings that were attached to the administrative building, which are now used as a correctional facility for juveniles with a history of mental illness and violent behavior.

Tewksbury State Hospital

Address: 365 East St, Tewksbury, Mass

The Tewksbury State Hospital was a state hospital that has since been re-purposed into a medical hospital.

Built in 1852 and opened in 1854, the Tewksbury State Hospital was originally established as the Tewksbury Almshouse.

In 1866, a hospital was built on the property and it began accepting poor people with mental illnesses. By the 1880s, the property primarily became a hospital helping both mentally and physically ill patients.

In the 1890s, the almshouse had been torn down and the remaining almshouse buildings were re-purposed for hospital use.

In 1900, the Massachusetts General Court renamed the Tewksbury Almshouse the Tewksbury State Hospital.

In 1909, it was renamed the Tewksbury State Infirmary.

In 1939, it was renamed the Tewksbury State Hospital and Infirmary and in 1959 it became the Tewksbury Hospital, which it remains today.

Westborough State Hospital

Address: Westborough, Mass

Westborough State Hospital was an abandoned state hospital that has since been demolished.

Incorporated in 1884, the Westborough State Hospital was originally known as the Westborough Insane Hospital. It was built on the grounds of the State Reform School for Boys and the existing buildings were re-purposed for the hospital, which opened in 1886.

In 1907, the Westborough Insane Hospital was renamed the Westborough State Hospital.

By 1945, the hospital was overcrowded with over 1,700 patients and only 239 staff members.

The hospital was closed in 2010 and, in the summer of 2019, all 61 buildings in the complex were demolished. A senior living complex has since been built on the site where the hospital stood.

Worcester State Hospital

Address: Worcester, Mass

Worcester State Hospital was an abandoned state hospital that has since been mostly demolished.

The original hospital, known as the Worcester Lunatic Asylum, was built in 1833 which makes it the first state hospital built in Massachusetts.

The hospital quickly became overcrowded and a new hospital, the Worcester State Hospital, was built in 1876 based on the Kirkbride plan.

Worcester State Insane Asylum, Worcester, Mass, circa 1905
Worcester State Insane Asylum, Worcester, Mass, circa 1905

In 1958, another building, the Bryant Building, was added to the property to expand the hospital.

In 1985, the Kirkbride building was abandoned. The left wing of the building was destroyed and the right wing was partially damaged during a fire in 1991.

In 2008, the Kirkbride building and the other remaining buildings on the property, except for the Administrative building, the Hooper Turrett and the Hale Building, were demolished.

In 2009, construction began on a new hospital on the site, Worcester Recovery Center & Hospital, which was completed in 2012.

The Bryant Building continued to operate as a state hospital until the new hospital opened in 2012 and the patients were transferred over.

The only original buildings that are still standing are the Bryant Building and Hale Building.

Sources:
Yohanna, Daniel. “Deinstitutionalization of People with Mental Illness: Causes and Consequences.” AMA Journal of Ethics, Oct. 2013, journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/deinstitutionalization-people-mental-illness-causes-and-consequences/2013-10
“Westboro State Hospital has long history, but many are looking toward the future.” The Telegram, 24 June. 2016, telegram.com/news/20160624/westboro-state-hospital-has-long-history-but-many-are-looking-toward-future
Hammel, Lee. “Westboro State Hospital Set to Close.” The Telegram, 11 April. 2010, telegram.com/article/20100411/NEWS/4110497
Preer, Robert. “State Hospital site now home to luxury housing.” Boston Globe, 18 Oct. 2007, archive.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/10/18/state_hospital_site_now_home_to_luxury_housing/
Redmond, Lisa. “Part of Grafton State Hospital site to go up for sale,” The Grafton News, 7 Feb. 2019, telegram.com/news/20190207/part-of-former-grafton-state-hospital-site-to-go-up-for-sale
“1935 Chap. 0314. An Act Making The Gardner State Colony A Reception Hospital For The Insane And Changing Its Name to Gardner State Hospital.” State Library of Massachusetts, archives.lib.state.ma.us/handle/2452/60457
Richard, Mike. “Hilltop Cemetery a Lasting Reminder of ‘the Colony.’” The Gardner News, 8 March, 2012, thegardnernews.com/article/20120308/NEWS/303089614
“Foxborough State Hospital, Massachusetts Hospital for Dipsomaniacs & Inebriates.” NPS.gov, nps.gov/places/foxborough-state-hospital.htm
“Taunton State Hospital.” NPS.gov, nps.gov/places/taunton-state-hospital.htm
Barclay, Melinda. “The Plymouth County Hospital: A Story of What It Once Was.” The Hanson Tunk, Hanson Historical Society Newsletter, Summer 2013, hansonhistoricalsociety.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/tunksummer2013.pdf
DeSorgher, Richard. “The Rise and Fall of the Medfield State Hospital.” The Patch, 4 March, 2011, patch.com/massachusetts/medfield/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-medfield-state-hospital

About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is the author and publisher of the History of Massachusetts Blog. Rebecca is a freelance journalist and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Visit this site's About page to find out more about Rebecca.

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