Worcester State Hospital

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Worcester State Hospital
Worcester State Hospital
Construction Began 1870
Construction Ended 1877
Current Status Active and Preserved
Building Style Kirkbride Plan
Architect(s) Ward P. Delano
Alternate Names
  • Massachussets State Hospital
  • Worcester State Instane Asylum
  • State Lunatic Asylum at Worcester
  • Bloomingdale Insane Asylum
  • Worcester Insane Hospital


Also once known as the Worcester Lunatic Asylum and the Bloomingdale Asylum, this psychiatric facility's history dates back to before the main building was built. On January 12, 1833, the old Worcester Insane Asylum opened, and was the first of its kind constructed in the state of Massachusetts. When overcrowding became a problem, a new hospital was to be built - a massive structure laid out in the Kirkbride plan, which is the one featured in these photographs.

Construction began in 1870 and the newly built Worcester State Hospital opened seven years later. Designed by architect Ward P. Delano of the firm Fuller & Delano of Worcester, the flagstone and brick building stood four stories tall, and between the 500 foot wings stood a beautiful clock tower, looming above the central administration building. On an interesting note, Sigmund Freud visited the hospital in 1909 during his only trip to America.

A massive fire engulfed the Kirkbride building on July 22, 1991, destroying almost all of the roof and floors, save for the right most wing and the administration building. The burned out shells of the other areas were bulldozed and the extra stone was used to seal up the gaping holes left by the connections to the remaining sections. A new hospital building was built behind the remains of the Kirkbride building and is still in operation as of 2008. Source

In the spring of 2008 the remaining wing segments of the Kirkbride building are being demolished, along with the one of the historic rotundas and employee residences. The demolition is to make room for a new state psychiatric hospital. The clocktower / administration building will be spared, as well as the rotunda known as Hooper Hall. Though these last segments of the Kirkbride are not being demolished, there are no funds or plans to restore or even stabilize them.


  • The enduring asylum: Cycles of institutional reform at Worcester State Hospital, by Joseph P Morrissey
  • The State and the mentally ill: A history of Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts, 1830-1920, by Gerald N Grob

Images of Worcester State Hospital

Main Image Gallery: Worcester State Hospital

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