Danvers State Hospital – Danvers, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura
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Danvers, Massachusetts

Danvers State Hospital

The inspiration for H.P. Lovecraft's horror stories and Batman's Arkham Asylum is now a condominium complex. 

Danvers State Hospital opened in 1878 as a mental health hospital, serving some 600 patients under its imposing gothic spires. While it was built with a surprisingly caring and modern attitude people with mental illness, by the 1930s the site was crowded, falling into disrepair, and used shock therapies and lobotomies on a regular basis. The addition of criminals and alcoholics to the overcrowded hospital made it very difficult for the hospital to help cure any of its mental health. As such, the hospital was shut down in 1992.

The building, with its gothic style and series of underground tunnels, inspired H. P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanitarium, in turn inspiring Batman’s Arkham Asylum. In 2001, Brad Anderson chose the abandoned Danvers State Hospital as the primary location for his terrifying film, Session 9.

In 2007, the decaying building was mostly torn down and turned into apartments. Halstead Danvers, (originally Avalon Danvers) is complete with swimming pool and, aside from a small plaque on the grounds, barely references the site’s past. Though some of the original facade remains, the rest of the building has been replaced with chintzy apartments, elliptical machines, and Ikea furniture. However, there is one piece of the former psychiatric hospital  that still exists: its cemetery. 

Know Before You Go

If you're facing the Kirkbride building, head right on the sidewalk through the memorial and all the short way to where the apartments stop and the condos begin. Follow the rock and gravel path downhill until you reach the farm and look to your right to find the occasionally overgrown entrance.

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