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Danvers State Insane Asylum

Danvers State Insane Asylum

Danvers State Insane Asylum

Location: Danvers, Massachusetts (aka Salem Village until 1752)

According to the, the Danvers State Lunatic Asylum was built between 1874 and 1878. The land on which it was built is called Hathorne Hill after Judge John Hathorne of the Salem Witch Trials who had lived there. The land was purchased from a farmer, Francis Dodge, in the 1870s. It cost $1.5 million to build the asylum at a time when America was still recovering from their Civil War. Over time approximately 40 buildings went up to house TB patients, staff, the medical building, machine shops, two nursing homes, a pump house, cemetery, and cottages, many were connected by underground tunnels.

Danvers State Insane Asylum
Danvers State Insane Asylum. Photo courtesy of

From 1920 to 1945 the treatments done at the Danvers State Insane Asylum on patients included ECT and lobotomies. Patients often faced neglect and the use of restraints. These treatments are said to “have left a massive psychic imprint on the walls.” (

Dr. Walter J. Freeman II reportedly conducted numerous lobotomies in the Danvers State Insane Asylum. The care of the patients declined as overcrowding took over while staffing levels remained unchanged. Eventually, the asylum closed in 1992. Reports from visitors to the asylum included hearing voices asking for help and tortured screams.

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The building’s facade remains as luxury apartments were constructed and opened in 2008. The area is now known as Halstead Danvers. I wonder if the screams are still heard?


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