A bit of history:
Most of us think of abandoned and closed sanitariums as something fun to urban explore in or to go ghost hunting if you will. But we forget these places have real history. Less paranormal but no less frightening in their own right.
These hospitals often took mentally challenged children as well, simply because families and society had no knowledge of how to care for them or to help them succeed in the world outside their home. Often it was because of the stigma a family would get from not having a perfect child. Just think, your best friend’s autistic child who is in school learning real life skills would not have had that opportunity. They would have been most likely in a facility such as this.
Medfield State Hospital was built in 1892 to house the mentally ill patients. The first of such hospitals to be built in the cottage style. It was designed by William Pitt Wentworth. It remained in operation until April of 2003.
At it’s closing, it was completely shut down, deemed unsafe to wander inside. From the outside you can see all the buildings wear and tear.
The hospital grounds consisted of a 1.4 miles. It was self sufficient in its heyday, they grew their own produce and raised their own livestock. It also supplied its own heat and electric. It had 58 buildings and was eventually overrun with 2,200 patients in its care.
Now that we know all about its physical space, what about its human inhabitants. What were their lives like? How were they treated?
Well, we know the typical forms of treating mental illness in that time period were used such as electric shock therapy. I always think of great suffering and horrible living conditions when I think of old asylums. These were the peoples society didn’t want around. Some families didn’t want these relatives around hence why these types of hospitals were needed.
Since we know they farmed their own resources, it was easy to surmise the patients were assisting in the fields. Depending on their condition, this may have been something they enjoyed, and hopefully were not forced to endure.
One thing that gives me some hope was the reasoning behind the different design. They built the facility in the cottage style, to make the patients feel like they were in a more homelike environment. More windows added more natural lighting, making them feel slightly less captive than they were.
This hospital of course was not without it’s share of patient tragedies. Some of the more known public cases were as follows, one patient died of shock when a caretaker put him in a tub of scalding hot water. Imagine if you can, how hot that water had to be. Another patient ran away and after several days her missing body was found and ruled as death by exposure.
There were three cases of assault on these patients and all three assaults lead to their deaths. And finally when the influenza virus struck in 1918, It killed a total of 55 patients and 5 staff members. The healthier patients had to care for the sick and dying. The local cemeteries were overrun, and it led to the hospital itself having to dig ground for their own cemetery.
While walking around the cemetery noticing the same dates on so many of the stones, you can’t help, even if you are aren’t a sensitive person to these things, you can’t help but feel the grief that time must have caused.
Due most likely to volume of deaths and funding, most gravestones simply had a number on them. If you were number 50 that died, then that was your headstone. Imagine having such a life as they had, then be just a number at the end. My stomach hurts and tears are form in my eyes when I think on it.
A shining light did finally come for those souls, bless their hearts, a boys scout troop went through and found some of the patients names and the headstones were changed.
The hospital was used for a few different things before it’s official closing. It was made secure and used to house the criminally insane, then later it was used as a teaching hospital for Tufts. Then the reports that the building was becoming no longer physically safe to remain open it had to officially close it’s doors in 2003.
Claim to fame:
The hospital and grounds were used to film such movies as The Box, Shutter Island and the New Mutants. Looking forward to seeing what else they film there.
For all the rumors I’ve heard regarding the hospital being haunted, I haven’t heard any specific stories of anyone witnessing anything. That’s not to say it didn’t happen, I just didn’t see or hear it anywhere. The abandoned asylums all over the country have been labeled as paranormal hotbeds. To me, you don’t need to see a ghost or a shadow to feel the misery, grief and sadness of these places. You know all their real history. The suffering, abuse, experimental care, and finally being the thrown away and unwanted of society. You don’t need to see ghosts to feel the oppression, you only need to stand before one of its buildings for a second and you’ll know all you need, and most likely more than you want.
My brush with the unexplained:
I visited the Medfield State Hospital a total of three times. One at night and twice in the daytime.
I too, heard the rumors of hauntings. The first visit was at night. (Because come on, everyone loves a scare). I turned on the IOvilus to see if any presence would talk to us. After a bit it began spitting out all the right words to scare you off, I wondered if the Medfield Police were in control of it. It said come, fear, threat, legion, well you get the picture I’m sure. And I thought If it really wanted me to come, it shouldn’t have mentioned the whole legion thing.
The daytime visits were different. The town of Medfield, in an impressive decision made the grounds open to the public, therefore dissuading most of the the thrill seekers who would otherwise “sneak” in.
Again, I turned on the iOvilus. This time I felt like something was really leading us around. It kept saying number 9. We were baffled until we realized the buildings were numbered. We searched out number 9 and got ready to have an otherworldly conversation.
I asked it questions such as, “is there something you want to tell me, etc.” it began saying things like can’t talk, fear, water etc. a mystery for us to solve. Then I visited it again yesterday. I walked all the grounds, and the conservation land. The IOvilus was running while I casually walked and talked. Nothing till I ended my trip at building number 9. I can literally hear the Beatles singing Number 9 in my head. I asked if it remembered me and did it have anything else it wanted to tell me. It said three words then nothing else. It said, told, family, gasp. Putting all the words in total that it said together, I could literally feel the misery and grief. What may have happened to this person? I knew it wasn’t good. Was this the patient that was burned in the tub? I may never find out who or what it might have been. but I’ll never forget the words and maybe someday the mystery will be solved.
These grounds are both beautiful and haunting. A walk through history. A place with so many lost souls with stories we may never know. Is it haunted? I can’t tell you that for sure. I didn’t see anything ghostly, does it still have some echos of lives surviving in there? I would say yes. And maybe I was privileged to learn of just one of those stories.
I recommend stopping by and seeing for yourself. Maybe for a nice scare and a stroll, who could ask for more than that?
video tour of Medfield State Hospital:
Videos from my visits:
Copyright March 2019 property of Bigfootmountain and Sasysquatchgirl all rights reserved