Pondville State Hospital

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Pondville State Hospital
Established 1910
Construction Began 1914
Opened 1914
Closed 1927 (as a psychiatric facility)
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building
Location Norfolk, MA
Alternate Names
  • Pondville State Cancer Hospital
  • Norfolk State Hospital
  • Caritas Southwood Hospital
  • Southwood Community Hospital


From the Massachusetts state archive:

From 1912 to 1918, Norfolk State Hospital was responsible for providing residential care and treatment to persons committed by courts or voluntarily because of alcoholism or drug addiction.

The hospital was authorized by St 1910, c 635 as a unit of Foxborough State Hospital and established as Norfolk State Hospital under the Foxborough trustees by St 1912, c 530, with oversight by the State Board of Charity, to provide hospital treatment for "hopeful" cases and a detention colony for noncriminal but chronic cases. By St 1914, c 358, Foxborough State Hospital was designated as an institution for the mentally ill with a new board of trustees. The former trustees (still under the State Board of Charity) became the trustees of Norfolk State Hospital and all (male) inebriates and drug addicts, documents relating to the care of inebriates, and all records of former patients (except those committed as insane) were transferred to that institution, which began operation in June 1914. (The outpatient department of Foxborough State Hospital became a branch of Norfolk State Hospital, responsible for monitoring and advising patients who had left that facility.)

St 1918, c 139 directed the Massachusetts Commission on Mental Diseases to transfer to Norfolk State Hospital female inmates from state hospitals for the mentally ill. However, that same year the hospital's inpatient population dwindled to forty-eight. The facility was ceded to the federal government to treat soldiers returning from World War I who were suffering from nervous and mental breakdowns, and consequently by the following year the facility had ceased to function as a state mental hospital. In the meantime St 1919, c 350, s 81 placed Norfolk State Hospital under the supervision and control of the Dept. of Mental Diseases at such a time as its lease to the federal government expired.

However, the hospital never reopened as Norfolk State Hospital. St 1922, c 535 provided that persons with alcohol and drug problems be committed to state correction facilities (including the State Farm at Bridgewater) or private treatment facilities. The hospital's buildings were used to provide immediate care and treatment for persons suffering from cancer under the authority of St 1926, c 391; in this new role the facility was named Pondville Hospital in 1927.

St 1935, c 421, which provided for a new Norfolk State Hospital for the criminally insane, was not implemented.

Pursuant to St 1926, c 391, Pondville Hospital opened in 1927 as the first state-operated hospital in Massachusetts to treat cancer patients and to do research on the prevention and cure of cancer. Under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Public Health, it was located in buildings of the former Norfolk State Hospital in Norfolk and Walpole. Pondville provided surgical services, residency training, training in a practical nursing (from 1949), and outpatient care (St 1959, c 494). New hospital buildings were constructed in the 1960s but as the state deemphasized direct patient care, it was agreed to sell the facility to the privately owned Norwood Hospital in 1981.


It was part of the Caritas Christi Health Care System, who built a more modern complex in Foxboro and eventually shut the Southwood Hospital down. After its closure in 2003, ideas have surfaced for multiple different redevelopment plans but for environmental concerns, none have come through. In 2008, the site went up for auction with an opening bid of $10 million which was dropped to $1 million and ended at $2 million. Caritas Christi declined the final bid for the property, as it had formerly been appraised at $5 million. It would be worth a estimated $10 million if the property was not contaminated. The landfill on the site contains large amounts of hazardous waste involving discarded cancer medicines. As of 2014, the derelict Southwood Hospital remains with only a few of the former buildings having been demolished, after its closure.