Lyman School for Boys


The Lyman State Reform School for Boys opened in 1848 as the nations first juvenile reform facility. Located 40 miles from Boston, Westborough Massachusetts on a hill next to Lake Chauncy. This was an ideal location being about 30 miles away from Boston. The reason for this was that runaways were just far enough from the city that they wouldn’t be able to return. Out of site, out of mind is what the legislature seemed to have in mind. The Lyman Reform School for Boys was originally designed as a juvenile prison with barred windows, locked doors and small rooms. It resembled an adult prison instead of a reform school. Over the years many issues with runaways, riots, fires, and brutality a new reform movement started to began. Instead of prison like institutions for juveniles, a less criminal approach would be implemented. The state agreed to a cottage style campus for the new boys reform school. The institution would be like an open campus feel of a college. With nice paved roads and beautiful landscaping. It would consist of individual brick buildings known as cottages. These cottages would not have barred windows, locked doors, and fences around them like the old reform school. They would be run my a master or married couple. The people who would over see the cottage would have their own private area in the building to live in while taking care of the boys. The buildings would hold up to 30 boys at a time. Each building had classrooms, recreation area, dinning room, and a big open dorm room for the boys on the top floor. 


The new location for the Lyman would be on Powder Hill which was then a mile down the road from the old facility. The old Reform School would be renovated into the states newest mental hospital called Westborough State Hospital in 1886. The new Reform school opened in 1885 with 100 of the most well behaved boy from ages 10-15 years old. Over the years the boys at the school had a mix of emotionally disturbed, mentally challenged, neglected children, delinquents who committed crimes and children who just needed some guidance. Like many state run schools, over crowding became an issue. The school continued to operate and train for custodial, industrial, and vocational education at the school. Most would also help work on the farm to supply food for the school as well. The academic program at the school was becoming less and less over the year when focusing on maintenance work on the cottages or working on the farm.


In 1947, an investigation took place at the Lyman School saying that the male facility were filled with alcoholics, misfits, and hacks. They sold about 200 acres of farm land to support the implementation a 40 hour work week, ending cottage parents and 40 plus hours a work a week. The money from the purchase of the land would go to hiring new staff for the cottages to watch the boys instead of a House Master. The legislature even cease the use of the boys for farm and maintenance work around the institution saying it was free child labor. 


In 1952, The Lyman Trustees were relinquished and the Division of Youth Services was created to manage the state’s juvenile delinquency program. With out the boys doing regular maintenance around the institution, the buildings and farm started to fall into disrepair. In 1953, two new buildings were built. A central Cafeteria and a one story brick school building. The classrooms could only hold 20 students at a time and the population was almost 600. The reform school still lacked any adequate learning facilities to help the kids.


By the turn of the decade with no farm work, vocational training, extra curricular activities and with the carpentry shop closed, the boy were left to stay in their cottages and stare at the television. Around 1965 another reform movement started to take place for incarcerating juveniles in institutions. The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare investigated state facilities including Lyman. The findings were the complete misused and mistreatment of children. The schools were a dumping ground for America’s youth to rot away. 


In the early 70s, for a brief time the institution became coed with the opening of two cottages for girls. With new reforms and budget cuts the school was falling into major neglect. Many cases of runaways and constant intervention from local police ,the school closed in 1971. The remaining kids were shuttled off the property to Amherst to be part of a new social reform movement yet again. 




Lakeville State Sanatorium


Located, in Lakeville, Massachusetts the state added three new sanatoriums to take pressure off its already crowded facilities like the one at Rutland. Construction begin in 1907 and finished 3 years later. On January 6, 1910 Lakeville State Sanatorium opened it doors to treat patients with tuberculosis. It opened to male patients only until the female ward was finished being built a month later. Around the 1950s, patients with tuberculosis started to decline with modern medicine. To keep the facility running, they started to treat other crippling conditions like Polio, Chronic asthmatics, Muscular Dystrophy, Arthritis and similar diseases. They used hydro therapy, iron lungs, bone stretchers and heliotherapy to help treat these conditions. Lakeville was one of the few places in the world to practice heliotherapy. (Use of sunlight to provide palliation of disease) 


In later years the first floor was turned into a children hospitals. In 1963 the sanatorium changed its name to the Lakeville Hospital. The hospital also opened a nursing school on the campus to help make money. Due to lack of funding and money loss, Lakeville Hospital lost its battle to stay open and finally closed its door on February 8, 1992.



Medfield State Hospital


Medfield Insane Asylum was established in 1892 in the town of Medfield, Massachusetts. This would be the states first asylum for chronic mental patients. Unlike many other asylums at the time following the kirkbride plan, Medfield would be the first in the state to follow a cottage style layout. A central Admin building would greet new arrivals while the cottages for the patients were on each side of the campus making it look like a community setting. The male wards would be to the left while female wards would be to the right. A central church would be in the middle of the campus for patients and staff. In 1914 the name changed to Medfield State Hospital. Originally having 22 building, the campus quickly over the years grew to 58. It become a little town away from society. The hospital could produce its own food, power, and heat. In the 1950’s new forms of treatment were being used with psychotropic drugs to cure patients. With these new advancements more patients were being discharged from the hospitals decreasing the population. Medfield also got national recognition for its patient step-system, which helped patients ready for independent living with vocational and work skills. 


Mental health started to change once again in the 1960s when President Kennedy passed a law that the mentally ill should be housed or hospitalized in the least restrictive environment as possible. This aided in another decrease of patients at Medfield. In the late 80s, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections opened the Prison Project in the southern most building of the campus. Even with its success the state cut funding and canceled the project in the 90s. With changes and opinions towards mental health in the 90s, the state decided to close the facility down after 111 years of service in 2003. 


The town of Medfield bought the property from the state a few years later and is now a public park. In 2012 the clack building was demolished and in 2013 the Odyssey House, Carriage House and Laundry building were also demolished. In recent years, Hollywood has noticed Medfield State hospital and has used the location to film movies like Shutter Island and X-Men “New Mutants”. The town plans on saving or reusing most of the historical original buildings in the future. 



Grafton State Hospital


Grafton State Hospital for the “chronic insane” opened in 1901 as an extension of Worcester State Hospital. The state of Massachusetts purchased 700 acres of land for the new farm colony hospital. This hospitals intend was to provide agriculture and therapeutic work for patients that Worcester could not. By 1912, the new hospital was administratively separated from Worcester and became independent from them. The hospital classified patients by their behavior instead diagnosis. “Violent” “Excited” “Quiet” & “Peaceful”. The buildings were labeled by different types of trees. Pines, Elms, Oak and Willows. The Pines building were developed with masonry as heavy bricked building for “Excited” females while the Elms building was for “Excited” males on the opposite side of the campus. Oaks (Male) and Willows (Female) were for the “Quiet’ and “Peaceful” patients and were trustworthy enough would be assigned to unlocked cottages on campus. The hospital also had a state art of the hydro-therapy rooms. By 1945, the agricultural focus at the hospital grew so large that other areas of treatment for patients quickly fell to almost none. The hospital was intended to be self-sufficient but unfortunately that took the main focus and occupational therapy took a back seat. At the height of the hospital the occupancy had reach over 1,700 patients. By the 1970s a change in attitude for the mentally ill across the county was taking place. The attitude was to have smaller group homes for patients instead of large institutions. In 1973 Dr. Sevinsky was charged with raping several patients at the hospital. With law suits and the move to deinstitutionalize the insane in Massachusetts, after 72 years of service, Grafton State Hospital closed in 1973. 


A redevelop agreement took place in 1978 with the state of Massachusetts and Tufts University. They would reuse some of the old hospitals buildings on the campus for a veterinary college. The Administration build, Theater, and parts of Elms were reused. Durning this time the Job Corps program also started to reuse and redevelop buildings on the former hospital campus as well. Parts of the former Pines building for “Excited” females would be reused while the rest would remain abandoned. The town is currently looking for a buyer to redevelop the land.


Mansfield Training School and Hospital


In 1917, the Mansfield Training School and Hospital was created as two institutions merged in the state of Connecticut to form one. The School and Hospital for the mentally retarded (1860) and Connecticut School for imbeciles at Lakeville (1910). The state facility would specialize in the treatment and care for the mentally retarded. The would residents worked in weaving, wood working, industrial shops and print when they weren’t doing academics. The 1930s and 40s took a major toll on the institution. With budget cuts, increasing of residents and the facilities much needed repairs, Mansfield was in need of more staff and buildings to run efficiently. The concerns over the dangerous number of residents and the extensive wait list to get in, it had created a demand for other institution. In the 1940s the state constructed and opened Southbury Training School to help relieve the pressure it much needed. Even with the new state school, Mansfield continued to struggle with over crowding. Around the 1950s four new dormitories and Longley School were constructed on the campus. Mansfield continued to expand over the years to support its growing demand. The institution grew so much that at one point it owned 1,000 acres with 85 buildings. The 1960s brought new ideas and treatments for the mentally retarded. Increased staffing and relocating residents from dormitories to on-campus cottages or group homes for more independence became more and more present. The schools objective now was to rehabilitate as many of it residents as possible so that they could return as a citizen that would be self-supporting in the community and to assist and care for any residents that can not return. By the 1970s the population started to dramatically decreased with more residents becoming more independent or living off campus. The school started to increased its activities and later got involved in the Special Olympics. With all these positive changes in Mansfield in 1978 multiple lawsuits were filed against the school and hospital due to the growing concerns over the quality of care for its residents and deteriorating facilities. A major key in the closing of the institution would be in the lawsuit, CARC v. Throne. By the late 80s early 90s the population continued to decrease and the change for institutionalizing residents was changing Mansfield School and Hospital closed in 1993.


After its closure, the campus was be split between the University of Connecticut and the Bergin Correctional Institution. Fernald Hall, Storrs Hall, and Rogers Hall were 3 of the 5 buildings that were demolished in 1992 before the school closed. 




Tredgold Hall 1920

Rogers Hall 1920

Storrs Hall 1916

Fernald Hall 1916

Girls Cafeteria 1914

Goddard Hall 1913

Binet Hall 1913

Lamoure Hall 1920

Baker Hall 1919

Knight Hospital 1926

Custodial Building

Baker Hall 1919

Wallace hall 1930


Fairfield State Hospital


Fairfield State Hospital is Connecticut’s third state institution for the mentally ill. Construction begin on September 3, 1930 in the town of Newtown Connecticut. Many of the community residents were not happy and resisted its location in their town. With the pressure of Norwich State Hospital and Connecticut State Hospital being over whelmed with patients the location would have to do. The layout of the campus would be a cottage plan with a colonial buildings made of brick and white wooden porches and columns. The buildings would be separate but connected with underground tunnels. This would help with travel for patients, nurses, doctors, and the dead if needed. The new hospital open on June 10, 1931 with only two buildings, Shelton and Greenwich Houses. The new hospital would not be able to receive its own patients because it needed to take pressure off the two over crowded state hospitals first. It wasn’t until the 1940s with the completion of Kent and Canaan Houses that the hospital was finally able to treat people in the community but transfers from the two hospitals would still continue. To deal with the demands of overcrowding and transfers, major construction took place in the 40s and 50s on institution campus. Creating more facilities and housing for the growing hospital would result in 16 buildings on 100 acres of land. The buildings were named after Fairfield and Litchfield County towns and cities. The hospital offered many forms of occupational therapy and treatments to its patients like insulin shock therapy, hydrotherapy, frontal lobotomies, and electroconvulsive therapy to those who needed it. At the height of the institution it had over 2,500 patients being treated. In 1963 the hospital changed its name to the Fairfield Hills Hospital. With the high turnovers from staff and increasing number of admissions, the hospital was stressed and struggled to give the best quality of care to its patients. By the 1970s most of the departments in the hospital would function independently from each other instead of as one unit. Changes in the mental health community started to take place in the 80s. To improve the quality of life for the mentally ill, new treatment plans were implemented. The objective was to help them return to the community to live a better life. With the new treatment plans in effect, more and more discharges from the hospital took place resulting in the population to decrease.


With the high cost of running state hospitals and deinstitutionalization of patients, Governor John Rowland closed Fairfield and Norwich State Hospital in 1995. Any remaining patents would be transferred to Connecticuts first state hospital in Middletown. Fairfield State Hospital closed its doors on December 8th 1995. 



Southbury Training School


Southbury Training School was built in the towns of Southbury and Roxbury Connecticut to help serve the overcrowding demands of Mansfield Training School and Hospital in 1940. The school would help rehabilitate kids and adults with intellectual disabilities. The campus was run and operated independently from the town. It sat on 1,600 acres of land and had 125 buildings including its own power plant, water, laundry, fire department, ambulance, sewage treatment, heat, maintenance, dietary services, transportation, and a public safety building. It was a town inside of a town. In 1986 the school began placing residents into group home settings instead of dormitories. The result of this was to stop admissions to the school. The Southbury Training School is still operating and helping its residents to live better happier lives.


Fernald State School


The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded was the first publicly supported institution in the Western Hemisphere. First opened in 1848 in South Boston, Massachusetts. The school was founded to help the intellectual with disabilities. The first schools of its kind quickly took off under the strong leadership of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe and Dr. Edward Jarvis. With the success of the school numbers started to increase over the years and a new permanent locations was needed. The town chosen for the new school would be 11 miles out side of Boston in the town of Waltham, Massachusetts. The school’s design was a cottage style system like the Lyman School for Boys. Where the buildings would be individual, instead of connected for an open campus feel. Some had tunnels to connect certain buildings to others that needed access in the winter months. In 1884 the new school opened under the supervision of the third superintendent Walter E. Fernald. With his ideas on how to cure feeble-minded children, the public was onboard. The education of the school would later be viewed as a model for the eugenics movement in America in the 1920s. The study believed that the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species, especially discouraging reproduction of persons having genetic defeats and encouraging reproduction of persons with inheritable desirable traits. The movement was so influential that Hitler took this idea and brought it to Germany. The school would test children all over the state using an “IQ” test. Most of the children that were targeted were from broken homes, the poor, minorities, foster kids, and families who couldn’t take care of their children. It was believed that more than half the children mostly boys at the school were fully capable of living a normal life without the assistance of the states help. But the school needed able fit boys and girls to help run the institution with daily task for it to succeed. A year after the death of superintendent Walter E. Fernald the school would be renamed in his honor in 1925. The institution grew to have over 72 buildings on 196 acres of land. Fernald was getting more and more popular by the 1940s. Fernald was viewed as a model for education in the field of mental retardation. Around that time an experiment was being done by MIT and sponsored but the Quaker Oats company. This experiment was called the “Science Club”. The institution would put small amounts of radiation in the patients oatmeal and record the amount of toxic poison that would be absorb into their bodies over a period of time.  It was easy to find kids that would corporate. Most of the children at Fernald hated the sigma of being in a state school so anything that could make them feel smart and normal was their top priority. Being part of the “Science Club” made special. The kids were rewarded with extra food portions, parties and even baseball games to see the Red Sox. The “Science Club” lasted for 7 years (1946 - 1953) At the peak of the institution the population reached 2,500 patients. Like most institutions at the time, lack of staff, over crowding, defunding and maintenance repairs to the buildings, the facility fell into horrific conditions. A news reporter snuck into the West Building that stored the most disable of the kids to report how unimaginable the conditions were. Publicizing the findings at Fernald and how much improvements, funding and specialized care was needed. In 1986 Department of Mental Retardation was created. By the 2000s, about 300 patients were living on the property. Most of these people needed assistance with every day life. In 2003 Governor Mitt Romney had announced that by the year 2007 Fernald would be closed and the land sold to investors. Local unions and families fought to keep the Fernald School from closing and got an appeal from Judge Tauro to postpone the closing.  Fernald remained opened until 2007 when the new Governor Deval Patrick over turned the appeal and continued the closure. He state that Fernald would be to expensive to operate and equal or better care for the remaining patents would be given at another facility. They started to decommission most of the buildings and down size the campus to what was needed. Local Six years later in 2013 only 13 residents resided at the Fernald School, most have been there their whole life. One of the the 13 is a woman who was sent to Fernald at the age of 19 and was now the oldest resident at 84.  The last resident was moved to a new state operated system on November 13, 2014. The Fernald school closed after 130 years. 



Dever State School


The state of Massachusetts was looking for a location for its much needed school for the mentally disabled. A location being scouted was in a the Myles Standish Camp, former military detention camp used for Italian and German prisoners of war from October 8th, 1942 to January 1946 in Taunton. The campus was sold to the state in 1948. They would need to repurpose the former military buildings for the new school. In 1952, Myles Standish School for the Mentally Retarded was open. Paul Dever the Governor of Massachusetts at the time would provide fundings for 24 new buildings for the handicap. The campus was set in a cottage style plan with underground tunnels connecting the buildings. There were 15 L shaped buildings with a central kitchen building in the middle. With these improvements the facility now had 45 buildings and 1,400 beds for patients. A year after the death of Governor Paul Dever the school changed its name to the Paul A. Dever State School in 1959 in his honor. 


Due to a lawsuit over funding in 1991, much of the facility was closed. In 2002 the Paul A. Dever State School was closed for good. As of 2016 all the buildings have been razed. 



Buffalo State Hospital 


Buffalo State Hospital for the Insane was New York’s fourth hospital treating mental illness in the 1880s. The site chosen would be located in up state New York in the town of Buffalo. An unknown architect at the time, Henry Hobson Richardson would be in charge of the design for the new hospital. Also famed landscapers Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux would design the areas around the hospital. Henry decided to use the popular Kirkbride plan with Medina red sandstone for the main portions of the hospital while the outer wards would be brick. In 1880 Buffalo State Hospital for the Insane opened with only the east side (Male Wards) completed. Not until 9 years after the opening would the west side (Female Wards) be finished. The new hospital had state-of-the-art treatments for the time. With enough sunlight, ventilazion, space, and beauty to cure anyone. In 1927 the farmland behind the hospital would be turned into Buffalo State College. In 1965 a the Strozzi building was built east of the Kirkbride. With limited landed on the property in 1969, three of the original buildings male wards would be demolished to make way for a new facility. With the almost 100 year old Kirkbride hospital being out dated and with a new hospital modern hospital across the way opening, all remaining patients were transferred to it in 1974. In 1975 the hospital changed its name to Buffalo Psychiatric Center. The Kirkbride would be abandoned leaving the admin only used for storage until 1994. In 1973 the Kirkbride was listed on the National Registry of Historic Place and in 1986 was a National Historical Landmark. The Kirkbride was left abandoned for over 20 years until a preservation groups fought to redevelop the campus. One of the redevelopments was to open an urban hotel. In 2017 Hotel Henry opened using the admin and first wards of the male and female wings as the hotel. 



Monson State School


Monson almshouse opened in 1852 was one of three in the state of Massachusetts after Bridgewater and Tewksbury to serve the poor. In 1855 they changed the name to the State Farm House and again in 1866 to the State Primary School for impoverished children when it was redirected to a children’s school. In 1879 there were 443 children under the age of 16 that were attending the school. They would learn sewing, farming, laundry services, grammar, math, history, writing, and bible studies. The institution would also foster and have adoptions for many of the children in the school. In 1895 the facility went under another change and was now the Massachusetts Hospital for Epileptics. They torn down the old almshouse which was the same frame work for the Lyman School in Westborough in 1848 and built cottage style houses. They would focus on children were epilepsy, mental illness and disabilities. In 1960 the name changed again to the Monson Developmental Center. They would shift their focus again to help the more intellectually disabled, or had health related illness or had mobility problems. In 1968 the patient peaked at a record 1,700. At the turn of the century budget cuts and new treatment plans for the disabled were being implemented at the State. Community-based group homes would be the new home for these people. In June 2012, the Monson Developmental Center closed after over 100 years of service. 




Foxboro State Hospital 



To remove patients with alcohol and drugs abuse from Massachusetts state hospitals dealing with the “insane” a new facility would have to be built. In 1889 the creation of a treatment facility was authorized by the state of Massachusetts. The location for this new hospital would be built in Foxborough. The state thought that a pavilion plan would work best for the new hospital. They would have individual residential wards for patients and support buildings around the campus. Architect Charles Bigham designed it in a Colonial Revival style. He designed the hospital in L shaped wards with red bricks and large cupolas on top of the buildings for features. Originally individual buildings they were later all connected by hallways and day rooms. The Massachusetts Hospital for Dipsomaniacs and Inebriates opened in 1890 to treat alcohol and drug abuse. The hospital started out successful but ran into problems with people escaping. Due to the location of roads and the near by railroad system it became very problematic. In 1905 the hospital started to treat more psychiatric disorders and eventually in 1914 it was adopted into a State Hospital. The substance abuse facility was then transferred to a new campus in Norfolk. The new Foxboro State Hospital would help take pressure off the over crowded state hospitals in Massachusetts. In the 1950s more wards were added to the hospitals west side. Around the 1970s with budgets cuts and with the deinstitutionalization of patients, Foxboro State Hospital was on the list for closures. The state hospital was one of the first to close in 1975 along with Grafton State Hospital. The state rented out the some of the buildings to government entities until 1996. On July 19, 1994 National Registry of Historical Places. After 1996 the facility was then abandoned for almost 10 years until it was sold to a developer in 2004. The old state hospital would be converted into condominiums and a shopping plaza. The oldest wards (1891) of the hospital would be saved and converted into condos while the newest wards built in the 50s would be demolished for new housing and parking lots. The old Foxboro State Hospital has a new lease on life now as the Chestnut Green.




Victory Theatre


The Victory Theatre opened in 1920 in Holyoke Massachusetts. The name is reference to the Allied Victory in the World War. It had a capacity of 1,680 and was built in an Art Deco architecture. The theatre would show silent films with parts of a live performances. The stage couldn’t handle big live productions since the depth of the stage was too short. Later all performances would be canceled once talking pictures became popular. The theatre had a fire in 1942 but still continued to operate through out the years until it closed in 1979. It sat abandoned for almost 40 years while restorations project and fund raising to restore the building back to its former glory. It is now owned by the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts. 

Tewksbury State Hospital 



Tewksbury Almshouse was one of two facilities in the state of Massachusetts to serve the poor. Opened in May of 1854 with the capacity of 500 beds. Paupers (severely poor person) from all over the state were sent to Tewksbury and within 3 weeks of opening there were 800 people in the new almshouse. By the end of the first year the admission had reach 2,193. About 1/3 of the residents were children and majority of people staying there were immigrants were from Ireland. After 25 years of helping take care of the poor in 1879 the hospital started to reorganize by illness. They would save 40% of the beds for the mentally ill, 33% for almshouse inmates and the remainder for hospital patients. In 1890 the original wooden almshouse would be torn down for many reason mostly for fire safety. With more funding and a growing population at the hospital the state started to expand the campus with many new stronger brick buildings and adding a nursing school. The expansion would start in 1894 with the old Superintendent’s House and old Administration Building. Then the chapel in 1896, Main Gate in 1900, Male Asylum in 1901, Women’s Asylum in 1903, Southgate Men’s Building 1905, Male Officers Dormitory in 1905 and several farm support buildings. Also in that time of expansion, the institutions wanted to reflect its mission and change the name to Tewksbury State Hospital in 1900. Then again in 1909 to Tewksbury Infirmary. Around the 1930s another expansion would take place on the campus adding a Married Couples Building, Special Building and a Dormitory Building that year. A Dinning Hall/Kitchen would be added in 1934 and a year later the Stonecroft (Agricultural Building) in 1935 and finally in 1939 the Nichols Building. With all these new changes to the hospital by 1939 they changed the name again to reflect that. It would be called the Tewksbury State Hospital and Infirmary. They added State Hospital because it would now have two main functions. First was to be the last resort for the elderly and the mentally ill and the second function would be care for patients with infectious disease like tuberculosis. This would be the name for the next 20 years until in 1959 when the they would change it to its current name, Tewksbury Hospital. The Saunders Building was the newest addiction to the campus and acts as a modern hospital. In 1997 the famous Tewksbury nursing school would be shut down after 103 years due to no longer being financial viable to the hospital. As of 2020 the hospital is still active. The old Administration building has been turned into a Public Health Museum. For $10 you can go inside and see some of the hospitals rich history.