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Learning the Reasons Why Worcester State Hospital Was Abandoned

The oldest asylum found in Massachusetts is Worcester State Hospital. It is also the oldest mental facility established in New England. Like in other asylums in the US, the emergence of advanced treatments and medications for mental health problems during the later part of the 20th century drastically reduced the number of patients, which led to the facility’s closure.

In 1833, the Worcester Insane Asylum began its operation and was the first of its kind in the state. There were more than 150 patients during its initial year, which eventually increased. This development led to the need for a bigger mental health center.

The Replacement Facility

The newly-built mental facility in Worcester started in 1870, and six years after, it was finally open for operation. It cost the hospital more than a million dollars to construct. The structure was famous for its state-of-the-art design, made by an English architect Frank W. Weston. He had notable masterpieces, and one of such is the Worcester State Hospital.

Initially, the Worcester mental facility was called with several names before settling for its final title. It was first called Massachusetts Insane Asylum, then known as Bloomingdale Asylum, and after that was Worcester Lunatic Asylum.

A Kirkbride-designed structure for mentally-ill patients

The Demise Of The Facility

There were more patients admitted to the center following World War II. The Bryan Building, in the end, turned to be the primary facility, accommodating several operations from the old Kirkbride complex. When the hospital community started to dwindle again with the arrival of high-tech treatments and medications, the original structure was considered obsolete. The administrators finally shut it down and remained abandoned. During the 1991 fire accident, the structure received massive damage to its roofing system. The right was slightly wrecked, and the left-wing was totally ruined.

The Bryan Building continued to operate until 2012 and eventually moved its work to the new center. The newly-built hospital took over other facilities in the state, such as the Taunton State Hospital, Westborough State Hospital, and even the Bryan Building. In 2008, the majority of the structures were demolished. One of the original buildings left is the Administration Block, which became a crucial visual site for the new facility. Today, it acts as a monument assigned to the Worcester effect on American Psychiatry.

The New Hospital

After several years of construction, the Worcester Recovery Center & Hospital was finally completed in 2012 and held three recovery phases. Following the Kirkbride theories in the original center, this latest structure is built with the patients’ welfare as the priority. But with Kirkbride’s proposal to focus on eliminating mentally-sick individuals from the public, the new hospital concentrates on means to reunite them with the community.

Apart from the remaining Administration Block, there are only very few original structures left. There are already proposals to obliterate the Hale Building and Bryan Building. They plan to put up a biomedical facility to replace them. As for the Worcester State Hospital Farmhouse, it will remain untouched, operational, and part of the new facility to preserve the legacy of the state’s first mental health institution.


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