Sunday, March 4, 2012

Local Insane Asylum

Danver's State Hospital & the story. Whether you're a local like me who grew up in the area, or a horror fanatic that saw Session 9, you'll appreciate this post. Ghost hunters have explored this abandoned building and it's one of New England's most historical places. 

For those of you who aren't familiar; Danver's State Hospital was built by a Boston architect (Nathaniel Bradlee) in 1878. It was originally built to care for patients suffering from mental illness, but ended up being more than just that. One of the buildings was held as a training program for nurses and a pathological research lab as well. And after an outrageous outbreak of tuberculosis, in the area and United States, it also housed many patients suffering from that.

By the 1920's the hospital was also used to help determine and treat the mental deficiency in children. During the 1960's it was hundreds of people more over the capacity of which it was built to house, and finally in 1992 due to all sorts of crazy circumstances it closed. 

One of the buildings (the Kirkbride Building) was built on the property- named after Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, who was superintendent from 1841-1883 in the Pennsylvania Hospital. But opened Danver's Hospital to serve progressive therapy to patients there.A number of lobotomy's and shock therpaies were done to patients.

 Aerial photo of the original complex on Hawthorne Hill (Photography by Pictometry)

And there is actually some FAMILY history behind the hospital on my behalf.  My mom and her side of the family grew up just a few miles from Danver's, in "Witch City" Salem, Mass and they also resided in Peabody for awhile. There was a time when my aunt Julie (who is mentally challenged) was admitted to Danver's hospital. My mom was really little, and my grandmother has passed on already, and we are no longer in touch with my aunt to know any of the actual things that took place in there. But my mom remembers visiting her from time to time and says the place was extremely creepy. My biological father and 2 brothers also grew up in the city of Danvers but I have no stories from them to share :/

Here is the time line of what was built on the property:
  • 1878-1874 the Kirkbride Building
  • 1876 the Reservoir Gates House
  • 1898 the Gray Gables
  • 1904 the start of Repair Shops
  • 1907 the Male Tubercular Building
  • 1907 the Female Tubercular Building
  • 1912 the Laundry Room
  • 1921 the Head/Pump House
  • 1927 the Male Nurses Home
  • 1930 the Female Nurses Home
  • 1933 the end of Repair Shops
  • 1955 the Bonner Medical Building
  • 1955 the Lady of the Hill Chapel
  • 1960 the Water Tower
  • 1964 the St Like's Chapel
  • 2002 the remodel of the Cemetery Memorial
  • 2006 all but 3 of the buildings were demolished for construction
  • 2007 finished the apartment/condo complex (Hathorne Hill Avalon/Danvers Website)

In 2001 a movie called SESSION 9 came out, which is a  psychological thriller starring David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Stephen Gevendon, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas, and Brendan Sexton III. The plot focuses on the growing tension within an asbestos removal crew working at an abandoned mental asylum, which is paralleled by the gradual revelation of a former patient's disturbed past through recorded audio tapes and hypnotherapy sessions. The film takes placed and was filmed in and around the mental hospital, which is also part of the National Register of Historic Places. 

I personally enjoyed the movie. Mostly because I am from the area and enjoyed seeing what came of the building (inside and out). And because I enjoy thrillers and horrors. It is said that the woman based from the movie may have been a real patient in the hospital, as they did find a grave #444 (see video below). But because a lot of the records from the hospital were lost or damaged, we will never know. 

 Just today I was traveling Route 1 in Peabody with my friend James, to go back to Burlington Coat Factory, and from Route 1 you can see Hathorne Hill. I have never actually been face to face with the building, and now don't care to being that it is a bunch of condos and apartments. Personally, I am ashamed that the city would tear down such architectually beautiful buildings and replace them with something so generic, instead of replicating them and restoring them back to their original state. But like the video below states, it will bring in a ton of revenue for the city and the state *I guess*

I decided to hit up Youtube and see if there were any interesting videos, which I found these. Please check out Doctor Colonel Gonzo's Channel if you are interested in seeing more local documentaries.

These videos give a great input to the story & structure of the hospital!

Some pictures I came across that I just had to post
Check out the website (or click the link--->) Abandonned But Not Forgotten to see more older pictures, during destruction pictures, and current pictures of Danver's State Hospital Insane Asylum. 

As said in the video, the Danver's State Memorial Committee was formed in 1997 to restore the cemetery. They recovered hundreds of documents of the dead which helped them to place a name to almost every headstone they found.  A total of 768 former patients "rest in peace" there and the committee has placed 350 individual markers with names already. They then made 3 walls naming the 93 patient's tombs which could not be found. They continue their work....

I also found this online...


"Ominous, imposing and mysterious - all of these words could be used to describe the castle-like structure that was Danvers Mental Institution. Insanity and death was a constant companion to those held within its walls - with so much fear and misery being built up over the years, how much of it remained behind after the institution closed?

The SCARED! Crew once again stares danger in the face as they infiltrate the massive complex, experiencing fear on several levels. What lies in wait for them within each of the treacherous structures? Will the crew make it out of the twisting halls and tunnels with their sanity intact? Get ready to be SCARED!"

Visit to check out more videos from these Staten Island ghost hunters!

If you are all wondering why I took so much time to post this - I have always been obsessed with getting to the bottom of things. I love to watch true crimes on t.v. and then later research about the psychopath behind the story. Same goes with local historic areas. Needless to say, I will be doing this more, and thanks for checking it out!!

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