Medfield State Hospital

1892- 2003

Medfield, Massachusetts

History

Medfield Insane Asylum was established in 1892 in the town of Medfield, Massachusetts. This would be the states fist 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.