danvers state mental hospital

Danvers State Mental Hospital opened in 1878. By the 1940’s it was a hellhole of frenzied violence, blood and filth.  Such individuals were routinely “confined… in cages, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience.”  Nothing prevented men from contracting for young women.  No one was heartbroken if one of these weird, scary people died unexpectedly.

Today I found myself at the Danvers State Mental Hospital. It has been a dream of mine to explore the grounds for quite a while. It is amazing to find that, despite some shady renovations, many of the landmarks are still intact. However, I can not help but be somewhat skeptical of the pseudo-utopian sentiment that I gathered in part from “Avalon Communities.” Oddly enough, the site of the asylum is now a housing community, where expensive apartments sit in an isolated, all-inclusive compound upon the hill… With the slogan “Time Well Spent"one can only question the nature of this arrangement, and whether the current residents are fully aware of where it is that they are living.

This photograph was taken in 1928 in Danvers, Massachusetts. It is a picture of the “Bruxa irmã Seis” (Six Sister Witches). The six Portuguese sisters were American immigrants that studied witchcraft and did not know a drop of English. They were seen several times to levitate while chanting prayers and speaking to invisible beings. Do you notice anything odd about the picture? A portion (her feet) of one sister can be seen laying on the floor in the lower left corner. The remaining five sister’s feet aren’t touching the floor. Eventually, when they were of middle age, the local townspeople became so frightened of them they were confined to the Danvers State Mental Hospital for the remainder of their lives.