Metropolitan State Hospital – An Abandoned Mental Institution 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

 

2 thoughts on “Metropolitan State Hospital – An Abandoned Mental Institution in Massachusetts”

  1. 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.

    Thanks
    Gary

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