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 known as the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers, The Danvers Lunatic Asylum, and The Danvers State Insane Asylum, this former insane asylum now houses fully renovated apartments. However, the building’s sinister past makes this one of the most infamous haunted former asylums in America.
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. When it was already abandoned, people who have gone to the hospital have stated hearing disembodied voices, wails, and patients asking for help and attention. The torture and abuse that flowed freely during the hospital’s operation have yet to erase the horror brought on the patients there.
Apparitions of former patients have been seen, and there is a very eerie atmosphere on 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 opening in 1878, the Danvers State Hospital was under a prominent architect from Boston, Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee. The building sits on Hathorne Hill, where the judge leading the Salem Witch Trials, John Hathorne, once lived a few hundred years ago. A self-contained psychiatric hospital designed and built per the Kirkbride Plan, Danvers is also rumored to be the pre-frontal lobotomy birthplace.
The hospital initially cost $1.5 million to construct, and it had two main buildings that 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. Small square towers connected the housing units.
Newer buildings were constructed over the years, and alterations were made. A new gymnasium and auditorium were added, as well as multiple solaria. There is a confusing labyrinth of underground tunnels that 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 mentally sick patients, it also expanded to include training programs for nurses and research laboratories. There were massive budget cuts in the 1960s, which 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 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, and the D and G wings.
Several ghost hunting TV shows have visited the property, and the movie Session 9 was shot on the grounds.
Today it’s definitely earned its reputation as one of the most haunted asylums in America.