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Danvers State Hospital

1874- 1992

Hathorne, Massachusetts


Construction for Danvers State Hospital started in 1874 with a budget of 1.5 million dollars. Designed on the Kirkbride Plan (A theory on treating the mentally ill, that the natural environment around the patients were crucial to their healing processes) like Taunton and Northampton. Danvers would be the third hospital to be built in this popular design by architect Nathaniel Bradlee. The Admin building would be at the center of the hospital, while 4 wings on each side Male & Female Wings housed the patients. The outer most wards were for “Excited Patients” while the middle wards were for “Less Excited Patients” and the most inner wards were for “Convalescent Patients” Patients. In 1878, Danvers State Hospital opened its door for patients and transfers from the already over crowded state hospitals in Worcester, Taunton and Northampton. Located on Hawthorne Hill in Danvers, Massachusetts the Hospital looked like a castle and soon got the nick name “Castle on the Hill” Over the years from the locals. The original hospital could only house 500 patients at a time and with increasing admissions every year the hospital and grounds began to expand. They added a nursing school, male and female dorms, a new kitchen, gym, and a new medial buildings (Bonner Building) in the 1950s. Around the 1960s changed started to occur in the mental health community and patients were now being more and more deinstitutionalize. Over crowding, being under staffed and rumors of inhuman treatments were being used added to the changes being made. Around the late 1980s the Kirkbride hospital would be completely shut down and any remaining patients would be moved to the Bonner Building across the way. Budget cuts from the state and a change for treating mental health would close the old hospital. On June 24, 1992 Danvers State Hospital closed for good. The property remained abandoned until Avalon Bay bought the land for redevelopment. Today 85% of the complex is gone. The only remaining building on the property is a converted and completed gutted Admin Building and a Male & Female “Convalescent Patients” Wing, which are now known as the Bradlee apartments.


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