Abandoned Taunton State Hospital was once a lovely example of the massive Kirkbride asylums that once dotted American countryside. The neo-classical Taunton State Hospital, originally known as the State Lunatic Hospital in Taunton, was designed and built by the Boyden & Ball company of architects in 1854.
The reason for which Taunton State Hospital was constructed was none other but to take some pressure of the asylum in Worcester. And so happened in April 1854, when the new lunatic hospital was opened. Worcester architect Elbridge Boyden demonstrated currency with Kirkbride’s concepts by creating a highly centralized main building whose domed administrative core was flanked by stepped back wings for 250 patients.
Over its lifetime it was expanded at different times and grew to include over 40 buildings and structures. The first major expansion of the complex happened in the 1870s and the rest followed between 1887 and 1906. After the 1930s, buildings such as sick wards and juvenile facilities and crisis centers were constructed adding to the overall intricate structure of the complex.
Some notable patients included serial killer Jane Toppan, a nurse who confessed to 31 murders in 1901 by administering fatal doses of pain medication; she was committed to Taunton for the rest of her life. Known as “Jolly Jane,” she reportedly lay in bed with her victims as they died. The main part of the hospital closed in 1975 and the buildings began to fall into disrepair.
Sometime in the early 1990s the state a $19 million improvement plan to improve these unabandoned sections of the Taunton State Hospital. However, In 1999, the dome above the administration section of the building collapsed. And in the early 2000s, a ponderously large anti-climb fence was erected around the building to prevent illegal entry.
In March, 2006, the main building of Taunton State Hospital suffered one of the largest fires in the state’s history, one of many the hospital has endured over the years. Although no one was hurt, more than 100 firefighters from eighteen departments were needed to finally bring the fire down.
Despite its historic, architectural, and social significance, the Taunton State Hospital was demolished in 2009. During the demolition, the buildings were salvaged and were sold to companies and individuals that saw benefit from it. The eastern infirmary still remains, as well as other treatment and service buildings.
Despite the demolition of much of the Taunton State Hospital complex it remains on the National Register of Historic Places. Taunton State Hospital is definitely one of the darker spots on the Massachusetts map. In 2012 the last remaining parts of the facility in use were officially closed by the state. As for 2022 the media reports indicate that Taunton State Hospital may even undergo an expansion and restoration.