A Walking Tour of Hospital Hill



Prepared and Revised by Tom Riddell (July 2012) and Abigail Milewski (May 2014)

History of the Hospital

1854 – Commission on Insanity, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, appointed

1855 – Board of Commissioners selects Northampton as site for state’s 3rd hospital for the insane

1856 – Laying of the cornerstone (July 4th); address by Dr. Edward Jarvis

1858 – Completion of the Main Complex, Northampton Lunatic Hospital begins operation (250 person capacity)

1860’s-1870’s – Agricultural buildings added to grounds

1850’s-1870’s – Landscaping of lawns and grounds

1870 – Greenhouse (and headhouse)

1876 – Iron fountain installed

1903 – Name formally changed to Northampton State Hospital

1903-05 – Lateral additions to Main Complex (North and South Infirmaries)

1924-25 – Rear, asymmetric, additions to Main Complex, both North and South

1928-35 – Memorial Complex (“letter buildings”) constructed (D and E, then C and F)

1935 – Tunnel connecting Main Complex and Memorial Complex

1936 – Memorial Complex Kitchen and Cafeteria

1938 – Olander Cafeteria (and kitchen) added to Main Complex

1930’s – Much of the expansion construction was financed by the Public Works Administration and later the Works  

Progress Administration

1934-36 – Power plant and laundry

1939 – Last annual report submitted

1940 – Superintendent’s House

1952 – AP building in the Memorial Complex

1954-55 – Peak patient (and staff) population, circa 2,500 (and circa 500)

1959 – Haskell Building

1960’s – Federal Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health

1963 – Community Mental Health Centers Act

1967 – G Building, Memorial Complex

1975 – Patient population reduced to circa 600-700

1978 – Consent Decree in Brewster vs. Dukakis (standard of treatment = “least restrictive environment”)

1984 – much of NSH property declared “surplus to needs” of state (Department of Mental Health)

1990 – 282 acres of land transferred to the Department of Food and Agriculture, and leased to the Smith Vocational School, and pronounced permanent farm land

1993 – Last patients leave the hospital, August

1997 – Request for Proposals for redevelopment of 154 acres and buildings (Division of Capital Planning and Operations)

Photo Slideshow

Northampton State Hospital Map and Key

Prepared by Tom Riddell