Haunted Massachusetts Hospitals: Taunton and Danvers
Haunted Massachusetts Hospitals…
Hospitals are truly one of society’s most sensitive structures. Hospitals see birth, death, illness, and healing. They see families as exuberant or mourning. They witness brilliant energy, or dark shadows and pain. In Massachusetts alone, there are 97 hospitals in operation. Many have come before, now abandoned or shut down. Hospitals of these kinds once dotted the fields and country-sides of America, their own self-contained cities. Below are a couple of the most haunted Massachusetts hospitals, Taunton State and Danvers State.
Taunton State Hospital
Taunton State is a psychiatric hospital located in Taunton, Massachusetts. Now just a shell of one of Massachusetts haunted hospitals, the building opened its doors in 1854. Taunton State bore witness to hundreds of psychiatric patients and, more notably, a couple of notorious serial killers. Originally known as the State Lunatic Hospital at Taunton, it was the second of its kind in the state of Massachusetts. The hospital and surrounding facilities are located on a rolling 154-acre farm along the Mill River. The complex itself was expanded several times to make room for more and more patients. At its largest, it was comprised of over forty structures. The main building, Kirkbride, closed in 1975 and after its demise, the rest of the buildings fell into a state of disrepair. It sits now on the Registry of Historic Places, even though most of the original buildings were demolished or destroyed by fire.
- Anthony Santo, an Italian-American serial killer
Anthony Santo was born in 1894 in Italy, who confessed to the murders of his two cousins and another girl in a span of three months. He stated that he went into ‘mad-spells’ where he couldn’t control his actions or anger. He was diagnosed with hallucinations and was eventually sent to Taunton, where he supposedly spent the rest of his life. His childhood is largely unknown, as he immigrated to America later in life. His parents did recall a lousy bout of Scarlet Fever Anthony had suffered, which had left his mind ‘afflicted’ since. On June 6th, 1908, a fourteen-year-old Santo was questioned by police regarding the theft of a bicycle. Unprompted, he confessed to murdering two cousins and a six-year-old. He said that he lured his cousins into the woods and killed them both with large rocks and a knife. He also stoned the six-year-old girl, Louise Staula, to death.
- Jane Toppan, a sociopathic serial killer
Born as Honora Kelley in 1854, she was nicknamed ‘Jolly Jane’ after her arrest in 1901 and her confession to 31 murders. To really focus on her sickness, she was quoted saying her ambitions were ‘to have killed more people – helpless people – than any other man or woman who has ever lived.’ She was born to Irish immigrants, and her mother passed away when Jane was very young, leaving her with her alcoholic and abusive father. He was rumored to have sewn his own eyelids shut in a bout of supposed insanity. It’s no surprise that Jane, or Honora, ended up following the path she did. Only a few years after her mother’s death, her father took her and her sister Delia to the Boston Female Asylum, never to see them again. Honora was eventually placed as an indentured servant in the home of Mrs. Ann C. Toppan, and Honora later took her last name. In 1885, Toppan began to train as a nurse at Cambridge, where she truly started to show psychopathic tendencies. She took a liking to very elderly and frail patients, using them as guinea pigs in sick experiments with morphine and atropine, altering their prescriptions to see what it would do to their nervous systems. She spent a lot of alone time with these patients, making fake charts and medicating them to drift in and out of consciousness, even getting into bed with them. She stated she liked to see the inner workings of their souls and derived sexual thrill from her patients being so close to death. After Toppan began her career as a private nurse, her poisoning spree started. She killed her landlord, foster sister, and four elderly members of the Davis family, who she nursed for. When Minnie Davis was found dead, a toxicology report was ordered, and Toppan was eventually arrested for murder. After her trial, she confessed to her lawyer that she had killed about 31 people and wanted the jury to find her sane so she could have a chance at being released. Eventually, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed for life in one of Massachusetts haunted hospitals, Taunton State.
Hellish Rumors, or Satanic Fact?
Rumors choke the area, stating that while the original hospital was in operation, a notorious Satanic cult in the area operated it. It is said they would take patients into the basement to conduct dark rituals and even human sacrifices. Today, there are still strange and unexplained markings on the walls of the basements, and while the hospital was still open, staff would attempt to go downstairs into the basement area only to be stopped by a force once their foot reached the bottom step.
Danvers State Hospital
The Danvers State Hospital was a psychiatric hospital located in Danvers, Massachusetts. It was built in 1874 and opened in 1878, staying in business until it was closed in 1992 due to budget cuts. Strangely, the judge who presided over the Salem Witch Trials, John Hathorne, also lived here a few hundred years ago. Soon after its opening, reports began to spill out of inhumane practices occurring in this haunted Massachusetts hospital. Shock therapy, lobotomies, drugs, and straitjackets were commonplace. Reminiscent of Rolling Hills Asylum and Pennhurst Asylum, the cruelty carried out here left energetic imprints that have lasted throughout the 21st century.
A total of 278 people reportedly died at the hospital in one year. Danvers is now known as the ‘birthplace of the prefrontal lobotomy,’ and lobotomies left patients in a hellish daze, wandering the halls. Horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft even used Danvers as the inspiration for his Arkham Sanitarium. Sound familiar? Arkham Asylum was the backdrop in which DC Comic’s Batman’s ultra-psychotic villains come from!
But what about real hauntings? The only remnants of the horrid practices here are two cemeteries, filled with 770 bodies. Visitors to the hospital report screaming, banging, and crying. The cemeteries are also hotbeds of paranormal activity, in which apparitions are common.
So, there you have it. A glimpse into a couple of Massachusett’s haunted hospitals. With more on the way, check back for more haunted healthcare! But, for more paranormal reading now check out our Top 10 Most Haunted Locations in Boston article!
Featured Image Courtesy of Alexander Synaptic.