The Danvers State Insane Asylum, also known as The Danvers State Hospital, was a mental hospital that stands abandoned now.
The Danvers State Insane Asylum, also known as The Danvers State Hospital, was a mental hospital that stands abandoned now. Under its gothic spires, the mentally retarded and criminals were provided shelter. They used shock therapies and lobotomies for their treatment in a regular manner. Built on an isolated rural site in 1874, it was opened in Danvers, Massachusetts in 1878.
This multi-acre aloof psychiatric hospital was designed and built as per Kirkbride Plan. Despite finding a mention in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, a large part of the building was demolished in 2007.
The construction and design of the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers was carried out under the supervision of prominent Boston architect Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee. After 4 years of construction, the Danvers State Hospital had its official opening in 1878.
The hospital became so overcrowded that it was getting difficult to cure any of the mental patients there. In 2005, it was bought by a residential apartment developer AvalonBay Communities. And then the process of demolition kicked off so that 497 apartments could be constructed on the site. A lawsuit was filed but that didn’t deter the builder and the demolition continued.
The Danvers State Hospital buildings taken into account for demolition were destroyed. A new structure was built and only the historic Danvers Reservoir remained. Later in April 2007, 4 apartment complex buildings and 4 Avalon Bay's construction trailers set ablaze in a large fire.
Richard Trask, the Town Archivist at the Danvers Archival Center, wrote-
“The failure to protect and adaptively reuse this grand exterior is a monumental blot in the annals of Massachusetts preservation. What might have been a dignified transformation of a magnificent structure which was originally built to serve the best intentions, but at times lost its way through human frailty, now is a mere ghost-image of itself. And we and our progeny are the losers.”
1) The Danvers State Hospital is believed to be an inspiration behind the infamous Arkham Sanatorium from H.P. Lovecraft's horror short story "The Thing on the Doorstep". This later inspired a psychiatric hospital within the Batman universe called Arkham Asylum.
2) The Danvers State Asylum was also featured in the 1958 film Home Before Dark.
3) In the novel ‘Project 17’ by Laurie Faria Stolarz, Danvers State Hospital is the key element of the plot which revolves around six teens who break into this abandoned asylum for an investigation.
4) Brad Anderson chose the hospital as the main setting for his 2001 horror film Session 9.
5) In the video game Painkiller, there is one level called Asylum, which is based on the central administration section of Danvers.
6) The American writer, comedian & actor Rob Delaney devoted a full chapter to Danvers mental asylum in his memoir “Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.” Before its demolition, Delaney explored it along with his mother and uncle.
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