Worcester State Hospital
Worcester State Hospital was a Massachusetts state mental hospital located in Worcester, Massachusetts. Sigmund Freud once visited the hospital in 1909 during his only trip to America. The hospital and surrounding associated historic structures are listed as Worcester Asylum and related buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.


Early History
Once known as the Worcester Lunatic Asylum and the Bloomingdale Asylum, the hospital dates back to the 1830s. On January 12, 1833, the Worcester Insane Asylum opened. It was the first of its kind in the state. During the first year alone, 164 patients were received. In 1901 a satellite facility which became the Grafton State Hospital was opened in nearby Grafton, Massachusetts to give non-violent patients an opportunity to engage in therapeutic work in a rural environment.

New Building
Overcrowding soon became a problem, and Merrick Bemis, the superintendent at the time, called for the construction of a new asylum. A massive structure was to be laid out in the Kirkbride Plan and located on Belmont Street. Construction began in 1870 and the newly built Worcester State Hospital was completed in 1876 at the cost of well over a million dollars. Designed by architect Ward P. Delano of the firm Fuller & Delano of Worcester, the flagstone and brick building stood four stories tall, and between the 500-foot (150 m) wings stood a clock tower, looming above the administration building. The building seems to reflect more of a prison complex in the styles, layout, and sheer size of the institution. During its operation, the hospital housed thousands of patients. In 1949, the daily operations of the facility were documented by Life.

A massive fire engulfed the Kirkbride building on July 22, 1991, destroying almost all of the roof and wards, save for the right most wing and the administration building. The burned out shells of the other areas were bulldozed and the extra stone was used to seal up the gaping holes left by the connections to the remaining sections. The hospital still functions as a psychiatric facility in a large, newer building near the Kirkbride, which now threatens to close as well.

Current use and redevelopment
Although the facility was officially closed in 1991, operations still continue at the facility in a newer building. In 2004 a proposal to build a new facility on this property was put into the works and called for all of the remaining newer and old building to be torn down. The current patients in the newer building have no air conditioning and room temperatures can exceed 100 degrees (F) in the summer. Erecting the new hospital will take the place of both the current Westborough and Worcester State hospitals. In 2008, there were plans to film Shutter Island on the grounds of the hospital. Because of the pending demolition of the facility, filming was not approved and instead the filming went on at Medfield State Hospital. In 2008, the remaining buildings on the property with the exception of the clocktower and administration building were torn down. As of 2009 there have been plans made to secure and maintain the exterior of the main administration building and possible refurbishing of the clock tower itself. A fitness trail around the perimeter of the grounds has been drawn up and may be put in place in the near future.

Notable faculty
  • Andras Angyal-Psychiatrist in the research unit from 1937 to 1945.