Everyone loves a good horror story and when it comes to talking about Danvers State Hospital, you’ll enjoy more than your fill of ghost stories. Also also known as the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers, The Danvers Lunatic Asylum, and The Danvers State Insane Asylum, this former insane asylum is now only a shell of its former self, but that simply adds to this already intimidating building, which was one the most notorious of insane asylums in America of the same period.
Ghosts of Danvers State Hospital (Insane Asylum)
Said to be the inspiration for H.P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanatorium, Danvers has a gothic design that has captured the imagination of horror aficionados. Walter Jackson Freeman II (an American physician) conducted numerous lobotomy procedures in the hospital. Although a small number of patients saw minor benefits from the procedures, many others experienced adverse effects.
Visitors to the then open hospital reported patients walking aimlessly in the halls or staring vacantly at the walls. People who have gone to the hotel when it was already abandoned have stated hearing disembodied voices, wails and patients asking for help and attention. The torture and abuse which flowed freely during the hospital’s operation has yet to erase the horror which was brought on the patients there.
Apparitions of former patients have been seen and there is a very eerie atmosphere in the grounds too. The building itself was always guarded to stop avid ghost hunters from entering and only one group to this day has ever been granted access to it at night.
Built in 1874 and opened in 1878, the Danvers State Hospital was under the supervision of prominent architect from Boston, Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee. A self-contained psychiatric hospital which is designed and built in accordance to the Kirkbride Plan, Danvers is also rumored to be the birthplace of the pre-frontal lobotomy.
The hospital initially cost $1.5 million to construct and it had two main buildings which housed four radiating wings and administration. Middleton Pond supplied the hospital with water and on each side of the main building were wings that house the male and female patients. The housing units were connected by small square towers.
Newer buildings were constructed over the years and alterations were made. A new gymnasium and auditorium was added, as well as multiple solaria. There is a confusing labyrinth of underground tunnels which connects the buildings on campus. The original plan was to build the hospital to accommodate 500 patients, however, by the late 1930s and 1940s there were more than 2,000 patients. The basement was even used to hold patients.
Although the hospital was originally made to provide residential treatment to the mentally sick patients, it also expanded to include training programs for nurses, as well as research laboratory. There were massive budget cuts in the 1960s and this was one of the causes of the hospital’s closure. It was officially closed on June 24, 1992 and after it was abandoned it was left to rot.
The property was sold in 2005 to the Avalon Bay Development and a lawsuit was filed to stave off the hospital’s demolition but demolition did start in 2006. The underground tunnel from the power plant still exists but it is not certain if the tunnel networks were also removed during the building’s demolition. Today the only thing left of the hospital are some tunnels, the cemeteries and the brick shell of the administration, as well as the D and G wings.
Several ghost hunting TV shows have visited the property and the movie Session 9 was shot in the grounds too.