Medfield State Hospital was founded in 1892, and for over 100 years served as a self-sustaining institution and community for thousands of mentally ill patients until closing its doors in 2003.
Unlike the imposing Kirkbride asylums built in the state of Massachusetts in the 1800s (see Danvers State Hospital, Worcester State Hospital), Medfield State Hospital was designed under the “Cottage Plan,” and at its peak consisted of 58 mostly brick buildings spread across a large campus.
While its layout and longevity alone are standout features of the Medfield State Hospital, perhaps its most notable quality is that while other similar institutions today face demolition or have already been destroyed, this hospital campus has been reopened to the public who are welcome to walk the grounds during the daytime. While some buildings have been flattened, over 35 of them remain standing and in various states of disrepair. Entry to all buildings is prohibited, and security officers are regularly present to enforce this rule, but visitors are welcome to explore the abandoned grounds and many walking paths, free of cost.
Since closing, the hospital also served as filming locations for motion pictures such as Shutter Island, The Box, and Knives Out. The Town of Medfield officially purchased the hospital in December 2014, and the future of this magnificent historical site is uncertain. For now, what better place to have a picnic than at the open grounds of an abandoned asylum?
Know Before You Go
There are two gates into the property; the second gate (coming from route 27) is open from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and you can drive all the way into the campus or park just past the gate and walk. The guards will happily direct you the correct gate. The campus is large and open to the public but about half of it is periodically closed for filming and/or construction. The signs warning of this can be hard to spot; pay attention or be asked to immediately leave the property.