Metropolitan State Hospital (MSH) – Lexington, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

Metropolitan State Hospital (MSH)

Lexington, Massachusetts

Once the largest public hospital for the mentally ill was also surrounded by controversy.  

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Opened in 1930, the Metropolitan State Hospital (MSH) in Waltham, Massachusetts was once the largest, most sophisticated facility for treating the mentally ill in New England. At its peak, around 2,000 patients were residents at the hospital.

Construction on the complex began in 1926, a few years after legislation passed in Massachusetts that mandated the state care for the mentally ill. The first building opened four years later and work continued through to 1935, at a total cost of $1.8 million at the time of completion. MSH’s buildings were designed by Gordon Robb, primarily in the colonial revival style.

The hospital closed in 1992 and its history remains extremely controversial when it came to the treatment of those who called the facility home. The hospital was part of a lawsuit where acts of neglect were front and center. Members of the staff were also fired for abuse allegations and there were several other reports of violence in the facility.

In 2007, some of the campuses were appropriated and redeveloped by AvalonBay, Inc. and are now a central component of the present-day Avalon at Lexington Hills apartment complex. Most of the other structures were demolished and much of the land was reimagined as a public space and hiking area. Several workers and residents of Avalon at Lexington Hills have claimed the buildings are haunted, and the area as a whole is a popular destination for ghost-hunters.

The Dr. William F. McLaughlin Administration Building is the only surviving original MSH structure. In addition to being a favorite haunt of aficionados of abandoned places and fans of the supernatural, the building has also served as the backdrop for a handful of music videos for local bands.

Know Before You Go

The area is completely open to the public (not the interior of the Administration Building). Follow directions to Avalon at Lexington Hills in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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