Taunton State Hospital in Taunton, Massachusetts was founded as the State Lunatic Hospital at Taunton and opened in the spring of 1854. It was the second asylum in the state of Massachusetts, built to ease congestion at the hospital in Worcester.
Taunton State Hospital’s main Kirkbride structure was designed by architect Elbridge Boyden, and several more wings were added over the years.
Taunton State Hospital expanded many times over the years until nearly forty buildings were included in complex. The main Kirkbride building closed in 1975.
These photos were captured by the Historic American Buildings Survey, the exact year and photographer are unknown, but it was sometime before the dome collapsed in 1999.
A fire struck the main facility in 2006, and the bulk of the original Taunton State Hospital was demolished in 2009, despite other parts of the facility continuing to operate and treat patients under the same name.
Lizzie Borden claimed to have been held in the asylum while she was awaiting trial (Lizzie Borden enthusiasts dispute this, the link where we got the info has now been taken offline), but records show she was never admitted to the hospital — only held in the jail. Serial killer Jane Toppan, who committed thirty-one murders by poisoning in the last decade of the 1800s, was also a patient at Taunton.
These skywalks, designed so patients could be shuttled easily about, were one of the most striking features about Taunton State Hospital. Turn of the century asylums frequently struggled to efficiently transport patients, many who were in wheelchairs, from building to building. We visited the remains of a sanatorium in North Dakota where this was accomplished with tunnels.
Matthew Christopher, an artist we respect and admire, visited Taunton some years back. Check out his amazing photos here.
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