Tewksbury State Hospital

1854- Present

Tewksbury, Massachusetts

History

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 Administration building has been turned into a Public Health Museum. For $10 you can go inside and see some of the hospitals rich history of artifacts including, an iron lung, medical equipment, nurses uniforms and many other state hospital items collected from all over Massachusetts.