The Scattered Mosaic of Monson State Hospital 6


IMG_3089_new IMG_2953_newWe hiked a short hill while the humidity seemed to beat us with each step toward the now abandoned Monson State Hospital in Palmer, MA.  I still did not know what to expect because I only Googled the Monson State Hospital once to look at the place my friend suggested as a possible abandoned adventure in Palmer, MA.  As we approached the gate, I saw one of the taller buildings peering at us part ominous, part mystery, and other parts daring us to come closer to get another look.

 

IMG_3104_new IMG_3113_newThe Monson State Hospital a.k.a. Massachusetts Hospital for Epileptics a.k.a. other combinations of names has history dating from the 1700′s and some sources mention  1800′s.  Monson State Hospital is IMG_3444_newapproximately composed of  76 buildings and 688 acres of wild ferns, nettles, and other plants.  Information Monson is like trying to put all of the pieces together for a mosaic hoping that it might become a clear picture.  Statements or various reports are mentioned in passing about epileptics being castrated, apparatus being used to bolt patients to walls, hold them in place in tubs or in beds.  Additionally, a hospital Superintendent, Dr. Flood, is mentioned in few sources as having ties to the eugenics movement.

IMG_3175_newAs I walked around this complex and after my short visit there today, I only have more questions.  Questions about the bodies that laid upon some of those beds.  I wondered about the staff and patients who saw theses buildings and stairways, what did they see?  What did they hear?  What were the instructions for what was seen and heard? 
When we left once section of the old state hospital, we see another complex of buildings with all of the doors and windows bolted.  No broken windows or time-shattered doors to betray any secrets unlike other parts of Monson. 

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As my curiosity grows for all things Monson State Hospital, I am still slightly haunted by the red spray-painted words “Help” upon the walls in the room that had the rusted bed frame.   It is oversimplified in an abandoned place like this to view it as just reckless vandalism.
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6 thoughts on “The Scattered Mosaic of Monson State Hospital

  • Reply
    Barb Stewart

    My great-great aunt, Mary Ellen Quirk, was institutionalized here. Her crime? She was epileptic. She spent most of her life here, dying here in 1935,in her late fifties. For the crime of having epilepsy. She WAS literate. What a sad story to be locked away for a physical disorder ALL YOUR LIFE! Her sister, Catherine Quirk Flanagan, is my great grandmother on my mother’s side. I thank God every day that I was born when I was and had the opportunity to live my life in freedom. I wish I had known Mary Ellen personally.

    • Reply
      Admin Post author

      Barb, my apologies for my delay in responding and thank you for sharing your story. There are so many similar unfortunate stories, like the ones you shared, in relationship to these institutions. Thank you for adding some depth to what I saw during my exploration of this place.

  • Reply
    karen Wood

    I had an uncle who died here in Oct 1910, stating he died from Satus Epliepticus- a constant state of seizures, with a cold as a complication but he was only 53 and there is no other history of epliepsy in the family. I know he was married, but it states he was there for 7 years, 7 months, y days, a curious number. Pure coincidence I suppose. I can find little history at all of its existence, yet there were reportedly a number of buildings here, yet no written hisotry?

    • Reply
      Admin Post author

      Karen, yes, I did try looking for some history on the place. I would be curious about more written history to pair with some of these (and other) shots that I took of the place. Thank you so much for sharing your story and I do apologize for my delay in responding (I was so accustomed to getting spam, so I appreciate what you wrote). Thank you.

      Shanta

  • Reply
    Rhonda Latney

    I worked at Monson for over twenty years. All places have a history of joy and pain. My experiences at Monson had all joy. From experiences with co-workers to the people it served. When I left the institution, I would come across some of the clients while at the Eastfield Mall. I would greet them as an old friend and saw how they had aged, as well as I did. Monson provided a safe and warm community for their clients and staff, history and experiences that are forever lost, and an economic boom for the town of Palmer. The institute should have never been closed.

    • Reply
      Admin Post author

      Rhonda, thank you for sharing. I have a friend who also shared her insights stating that Monson was a big employer for a lot of people in the area. Glad to know that it was a warm and safe community/environment while you were working there.

      Shanta