Metropolitan State Hospital – An Abandoned Hospital in Massachusetts

Metropolitan State Hospital

The Metropolitan State Hospital was located in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA and opened in 1930. It was a facility to treat the mentally ill and at one time was the largest such hospital of its type in New England. It shared its grounds with The Gaebler Children’s Center for mentally ill youth.

A sign for the Metropolitan State Hospital

A sign for the Metropolitan State Hospital

The facility came into being as a result of legislation passed in Massachusetts which decreed that the state should be responsible for the care of the mentally ill. A site was sought in the Greater Boston area and Waltham was eventually decided upon. Work began in 1926 and the first building was opened in 1930. Work continued until 1935 as more buildings were added and it once completed, it was regarded as the most modern mental health facility in the country. The complex cost $1.8 million at time of completion.

Metropolitan State Hospital was designed using the Kirkbride Plan, based on the theories of Philadelphia psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbride who suggested that natural light and good air circulation could have a positive impact on the mentally ill. The first such mental health facility built under the Kirkbride Plan was the Trenton State Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey, which was built in 1848. The Danvers State Hospital is another such example of a mental health facility built under the plan.

The Female Dorm

The female dorm at the hospital. Note the Colonial Revival style pillars on the buildings.

The buildings were designed in the Colonial Revival style by Gordon Robb with extensive landscaping throughout the grounds. The Met-Fern cemetery was also located on site which the Metropolitan State Hospital shared with the Walter E Fernald State School.

A sign for the Met-Fern Cemetery

A sign for the Met-Fern Cemetery

The hospital came under scrutiny as the years progressed. There was suggestions that young patients were frequently sedated and disciplined although this was disputed at the time. In 1980, Metropolitan State Hospital became the focus of media attention when a patient, Melvin Wilson, admitted to the murder of fellow patient Anna Marie Davee in 1978. Wilson created 3 separate graves for different parts of her body and kept seven of her teeth.

An old picture of Metropolitan State Hospital

An old picture of Metropolitan State Hospital.

The administration building at the Metropolitan State Hospital as it looks today

The administration building at the Metropolitan State Hospital as it looks today. It is the only surviving original building.

The hospital closed in 1992 as the state of Massachusetts sought to close mental hospitals and have patients moved to private care. It was left abandoned and decaying for a period of time before eventually being demolished, making way for a large apartment complex in its place. The Met-Fern Cemetery remains on the site and is maintained by the state. The wooded area is open to the public and protected from development. The administration building is all that remains today.

Location: Waltham, Massachusetts, USA 🇺🇸
Abandoned: 1992


8 thoughts on “Metropolitan State Hospital – An Abandoned Hospital in Massachusetts”

  1. I once lived in the Gable of mental institution for a short time it was toward the tail end of the hospital’s lifespan the staff they were just trying to make up for mistakes of the past I have never forgotten what they did for me and will always be grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the friends I made when I was there it’s sad to see what the building turned into at least the property was put to good use to anyone who reads this or finds comes across this former friends of mines thank you for everything you did and for all the former staff who read this thank you for trying to help me.

  2. I have been aware of this piece of land for years and keep calling the city of Waltham about what was happening and the person answering the phone never seems to know. Apparently they have torn down most of the buildings. I drove through there a few years go and this was before the demolition. I just used google maps to look over the site and it seems like there is a body of water in the upper left hand corner of the place. I think the town should really think about putting in a Lake or man made Pond someplace for people to use for fishing and maybe boating and even swimming. But the town doesn’t seem to be planning anything like that at all as far as I can glean. Its a huge piece of land in a very good location. I just got a job today about a mile and change away and might take my bike for a ride very soon…

  3. I lived near there shortly after the hospital closed. Came upon the property on a bike ride in the woods and decided to explore. Beautiful industrial style furniture and medical records strewn about the grounds. Read through some of the dental records which for some patients spanned decades. It was an eerie and sad experience as I pondered a bit about the lives spent there.

    1. Hi, As a kid I grew up close to MSH and we ran thru the woods etc all the time. My grandmother, mother, father, auntx2 and even myself worked there years ago. I could tell you hours of stories, some good, some not so nice and some just general conversation.

  4. I am very interested in Met State.
    I had a family member that was a patient.
    She has since past along with any family that knew her.


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