Monday, November 5, 2012

In My Footsteps: Medfield State Hospital

            With 130 articles written during my travels I have seen a lot of amazing places.  However, as can be the case, with showcasing a town in an article some of the places can be glossed over to make sure everything fits.  I have decided to start a series of articles each showcasing one specific place per article.  There are so many that have their own story and my experiences there deserve more than just a paragraph.  Since it is the Halloween season, or was, I have decided to begin with the scariest place I have visited: Medfield State Hospital.
            Medfield State Hospital is an historic spot.  It was a mental hospital built on Hospital Rd. in Medfield, Massachusetts in 1892.  At its peak there were fifty-eight buildings located on the grounds and could house 2,200 patients.  It was a self-sufficient property, raising its own livestock and produce while also producing its own heat and power.  The property was closed in April 2003 due to a decline in patients.  The grounds have been used for films such as Leonardo DiCaprio’s Shutter Island.
            The grounds are still open for walking as of November 2012.  When I visited I had high expectations from photos about the experience and I was not disappointed.  I pulled up and parked in a dirt area directly across the street from the imposing collection of buildings.  Sure, I had read the grounds were open but I did not see any other vehicles.  There was a white trailer located at the entrance to the grounds so I approached and a security guard stepped out.  He told me the grounds were open to be walked but there was to be no photography.  I clutched my tiny digital camera tightly in my pocket and moved on past.
            The road curves slightly and soon I was out of sight of the trailer and pulled my camera out.  I was immediately fascinated by the boarded up brick buildings.  The blood red plywood over the windows made the stoic buildings more eerie.  The sunny day added haunting shadows to these buildings.  I had the grounds all to myself and did my best to soak in this unique atmosphere.
            The deeper I got into Medfield State Hospital I began to notice something.  The silence.  It was a creepy calm.  There were no birds, no squirrels running around, nothing.  When I had parked my car there was the normal buzz of nature but not on the grounds.  It felt fitting.  The silence would eventually be broken by the howls of the wind passing through cracked windows.  The first such howl sent a chill down my spine.  It was thrilling.
            So much of my time was like something out of a suspense-filled horror movie.  I felt like I was on camera awaiting a monster or killer.  Then my fears were realized.  Okay, not really, but as I was at the furthest end of the Medfield State Hospital grounds I noticed a beige sedan slowly creeping its way up one of the roads.  There was a single man driving and scoping things out.  A perfect horror movie setup, right?  I tucked my camera in my pocket as he slowly passed.
            On the eastern edge of the grounds is a white water tower which gave me a dream vibe, like it was something you would have seen in a dream sequence of A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Perhaps the creepiest part of these buildings was the ‘crying’ windows.  The window frames were painted white and the years of weather had caused the white paint to run some down the bricks looking like ‘tears.’  In a place where mental patients once roamed it again seemed fitting.
            All of these creepy experiences are not meant to drive potential visitors away.  On the contrary, I believe that these things make it a more desirable place to see.  Some of the buildings were in great condition such as the main hospital building and the church.  Other buildings were damaged and had the red ‘X’ on the façade indicating they were most likely meant for demolition.  With roads and sidewalks there were times it felt like I was walking through a haunted ghost town; I could almost hear the sounds of the former patients on the wind.  To make the creepy journey complete if you’d like there is a Medfield State Hospital cemetery a few hundred yards west of the ground where 841 patients were buried between 1918-1988.  I did not venture that far.
            Easily the most eerie spot I have visited, Medfield State Hospital is a must see for horror fans.  I heard the howling winds, saw the creepy man slowly driving the grounds in his car, and heard the silence from the birds and squirrels.  Who knows what experiences you will have when you go?  Perhaps you should bring your running shoes though.  Have fun and happy traveling!

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Medfield State Hospital: 9 Hospital Rd., Medfield, Mass. GPS (42.207954,-71.335561)
            From I-95 N take Exit 9 for Rt. 1. Take 1st left onto Rt. 27, follow it 8.6 miles. Turn right onto Hospital Rd., hospital grounds will be on the left.

The hospital grounds looked like an abandoned ghost town.

Some buildings were in relatively good condition.

This look like a something dream sequence from A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The 'crying' windows.

The creepy church.



Cherie Cohenotti said...

I was the last patient to leave msh, we didn't leave due to lack of patients, Mulvey and skolnick told the remaining 42 patients why we had to be placed elsewhere. If you would like details, please email me.

Unknown said...

I would love to hear if your still offering the info.

Unknown said...

I would love to hear if your still offering the info.

Unknown said...

My Great Grand Aunt Margaret Martin worked there. I would love to know between what years and what exactly she did. Great read. Beautiful pics.

Jared Verbeski said...

My Great Grand Aunt Margaret Martin worked there. I would love to know between what years and what exactly she did. Great read. Beautiful pics.

James Motes said...

I worked there for a few years in my teens. I was a cook in the kitchen. In one of the old towers there were rooms that the employees could live, or like me sleep there when I had to get up early and start breakfast for the entire hospital population. The rooms themselves were dark and like out of an old movie, but I was ok, didn't see any ghost. I stress the point that the employees got to eat the same food that the patients did. Nothing was substandard. At first it took some time getting used to working there and it took a special kind of person to work there. My first day when I was a kitchen helper working in the dishwasher room a fight broke out. One patient didn't like how another was putting the dishes in the tray for the washer. I am not a quitter but the kid who started day one with me didn't stay. He picked me up on the way to the hospital and told me that he was done, couldn't handle it for more than one day. I stayed on. Once you got to know the patients and they knew you they were really good people. You could walk the grounds and sometimes hear some patients wailing, shouting, or screaming, but that was ok, remember these people were there because they had problems. And the Medfield State Hospital could not have been a better place for them to be taken care of. Most of the employees in the kitchen were good people. If I had to do it all over again I would jump at the chance. So, don't cut the old hospital short, it served a very good purpose. It helped people who really needed the help. Sure it was old, but nothing to be scared off, and even though Halloween is coming up this month I hate to disappoint many of you, I never saw a ghost, sorry.