The historic former psychiatric hospital complex known as Medfield State Hospital, originally named the Medfield Insane Asylum, is located at 45 Hospital Road in Medfield, Massachusetts. As the first treatment center in the state for people with severe mental illnesses, the institution was founded in 1892. William Pitt Wentworth created the campus’ college-like layout of the asylum. Construction of the site occurred between 1896 and 1914.
This was the first asylum constructed utilizing the new Cottage Plan structure instead of the traditional Kirkbride Plan. The Cottage Plan allowed patients to be integrated into a local community and work a specialized job. This was very different than the traditional format of holding patients in cells. In 1914, the name was changed to “Medfield State Hospital” officially.
The complex had 58 structures at its peak, a 1.4 square mile (3.6 km2) property, with a 2,200 patient capacity. It produced its own heat, light, and power, as well as its own food and cattle. The property, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, was abandoned in April 2003, and the structures were locked. It was completely abandoned for a few years and the buildings began to fall into poor condition.
The grounds have been repaired, and they are once again accessible to the public. They are open daily from sunrise to sunset. The New Mutants, Shutter Island, and The Box, among other thriller/horror films, have all used it as a filming site. The Clark Building was destroyed as of July 2012. The site is presently patrolled by local Medfield police. After dusk and until daybreak, trespassing is absolutely prohibited. The Medfield State Hospital Cemetery, which comprises 841 gravesites, is located on the hospital’s grounds. From 1918 through 1988, this cemetery was used. Before a Boy Scout from Troop 89 made it his Eagle Scout service project to find the names and dates of death of everyone buried in the cemetery, only numbers were on the graves there.
Three structures—the Laundry Building, the Carriage House, and the Odyssey House—were completely demolished beginning in October 2013.
Future Plans For The Medfield State Hospital
The future of the hospital is still unknown. The Medfield Board of Selectmen created the Medfield State Hospital Development Committee (MSHDC) in 2018, to explore the feasibility of redeveloping the site along the lines envisioned in the Strategic Reuse Master Plan created 2014-2018. The master plan is very expansive and provides an idea of how the hospital could become a mixed-use development. Some of the key factors of the plan are to designate 76 acres for open space, reuse the Lee Chapel in the campus’s center as a cultural center, develop the fields south of Hospital Road into a publicly owned and operated parks and recreation facility, and rehabilitate 28 buildings. Additionally, the plan calls for some new senior housing and affordable housing buildings to be constructed along with commercial spaces for restaurants, small businesses, offices, services, and an inn with meeting and conference rooms.
- Year Established: 1892
- Year Abandoned: 2003
- Original Function: First treatment center in Massachusetts for people with severe mental illnesses
- National Register of Historic Places: #93001481
Medfield State Hospital Location
- Address: 45 Hospital Road
- Town: Medfield
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: 42.211102, -71.334334
- Parking Notes: There are multiple parking areas for the Medfield State Hospital. The best option is to park at the entrance, right off Hospital Road. Parking is free for visitors of the hospital.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE