Vacant New Jersey

Westborough State Hospital

Status: Region: Type: Gallery:
Demolished Massachusetts Hospital 67 Photos

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The strong summer sun radiated relentlessly against the crumbling brick facade of the shuttered building. Numerous broken windows and exposed collapsing walls would normally let through a cool breeze, however, during the summer months the entire structure is enveloped and strangled by an ecosystem of thick vines and impenetrable shrubs, all growing wild with fever within the walled garden existing behind the barbwire adorned perimeter fence. This man-made feral jungle of invasive plants and weeds had sprouted from the simple act of neglect and has now worked to near completely obscure the hospital behind a green thicket of vegetation within the summer months.

However, such despair was not always the case, as the land once existed complete with beautiful manicured lawns and playing fields intertwined with architecturally magnificently kept buildings arising from an era of American accomplishment, where greed took a back seat to philanthropy and the greater good. Yet today, the plot of buildings rot, existing as neglected State owned surplus. Much like an infant child left abandoned on a city stoop, the property hadn't much potential once the State abandoned it. The sprawling land was left unmaintained to grow both savage and free, all the while slowly crumbling into an unmanageable mess.

The interior temperature of the building easily climbed into the upper double digits, exacerbated by the suffocating, sweltering humidity, creating a climate more reminiscent of a steam room sauna than an insane asylum constructed in the late 1800s designed to be naturally cool. The air inside was so thick, hot, and humid, that it clung to Jen's lungs with each inhale, like condensation too a cold glass of water. Occasionally a plume of cold air emanating from within the bowels of the dark foreboding basement swelled up into the warm air above creating a thick fog which hung idle, slowly traipsing about the long decaying hallways before disappearing back into the atmosphere like some unexplainable magic trick.

Jen was a self proclaimed loner, she easily found happiness within herself yet always felt the need to discover and learn more about the materialistic things which seemed to make everyone around her appear so much happier, which is perhaps why she was drawn to these very buildings; the epitome of physicality left lost in a confusing, materialistic world. As a Massachusetts native, calling home to the city of Worcester, Jen spent much of her young childhood escaping city life, troubles, and drama by visiting nearby Chauncy Lake and hiking the abundance of nature trails available for recreation within the encompassing Wayne F. McCallum Wildlife Management Area.

One summer's afternoon, while hiking the northern perimeter of the lake, Jen wandered into a cluster of old shuttered buildings dying from the typical signs of obvious blight; windows blinded by decaying boards painted red to match the brick, roofs sagging like hammocks on a summer evening. A chain link fence shivered like a metallic skeleton in the summer breeze while torn curtains danced like ghosts within shattered window frames. A wasteland of brick buildings and overgrown roads where the yellow dividing lines had been taken over by slender weeds. Picnic tables in the overgrown fields were accompanied only by briars, birds, and the occasional butterfly. A crumbling city of disaster, yet to Jen, the place still felt so alive.

Soon Jen found herself making the two mile plus hike to this newly discovered world at least weekly, merely at first just to walk around the decaying buildings, but never gaining the strength to push her curiosity any further than from behind the safety of the fence line. At home she spent hours online reading and researching this new found apocalyptic world. Westborough State Hospital, she easily discovered the history of, became her home-away-from-home, her escape from the mind's troubles, as she preferred to refer to it. On one particular summer visit a small hole within the fence line provoked itself to Jen like a welcome sign beckoning her to sneak inside. This very fence, around since the moment of her discovery of this place had stood as the only obstacle between her and entering the forbidden buildings, but Jen believed the fence to be of truth and authority, never nerving up the guts to break the nonsensical rules of society for curiosity's sake. Thus from behind its chain links she could only wonder. But Jen was curious, she poked her head through the opening, it was certainly large enough to quickly enter through, and she, flexible enough to do it fast. Her instincts told her "no" but her curiosity soon caved and Jen found herself on the opposite side of the fence surrounded within an untouched world of decay and ruin.

Despite the obvious dangers of collapsing floors and bad air within, Jen felt surprisingly safe and secure and began to become fully immersed within this new and unfamiliar environment of vacant buildings. A combined sense of inquisitiveness, wonder, and excitement overcame any irrational fears of the unknown. Jen easily wasted hours perhaps even days of her free time returning to the shuttered hospital time and time again, finding joy from exploring the crusty pastel lead painted wards and relaxing in the cavernous day rooms loaded with old patient furniture that seemed to originate from a science fiction novel rather than real life history.

Hallways stretched like fingers in all directions, each corridor connecting to a new area within the cluster of buildings. Some hallways even linked different buildings together, such as the kitchen which was still complete with a rows of massive cauldron sized stew pots, and ovens large enough to roast an entire pig within. Jen was simply astonished by the complete lack of care that went into "emptying" out the shattered city of interconnected hospital buildings. Discarded patient files littered the floors like the garbage, empty alcohol bottles, and forgotten political signs she was so accustomed to seeing clog the gutters of the highways and alley streets of the city she hailed from. However, this paper about the floor was not simply garbage, rather torn and mismatched pages from an unknown story, which Jen would often find herself reading while sitting alone about the sagging wooden asylum floor for hours trying to piece together. The personal accounts told within the tattered files filled Jen with a sense of wonder in regard to where these people had gone, what was their fate, their story?

"Official cause of death; suicide by hanging" read one such particular death record providing a tragic ending to curious thought, however in other instances a mere faded picture bloodied with a rust stain from a long disintegrated steel staple was all that was left of some random patients' history tabloid. One such patient pictured within a faded black and white photograph was restrained to a bed surrounded by emotionless nurses and doctors, gazing with empty stares. All these patients, Jen thought to herself, were now no more than trash on the ground, their social security numbers and dates of births nothing more than a meaningless string of digits assigning them to a system that no longer cares, no longer exists. A system that failed them before they failed themselves. Jen became lost while reading the sobering patient reports, thus she often had to put everything down and keep on exploring the fascinating world around her.

Rickety wooden stairwells led up to floors which had simply crumbled from the very landing they were once attached to, now swallowed up into the pit of the ever devouring basement below. Jen always avoided the basement, for it remained in stark contrast to the rest of the beautiful asylum, otherwise alive with light and sound. The basement was dark and menacing, it even bellowed a literal chill of air. The darkness itself wreaked of death, for it was indeed where things went to die. It was a bottomless, ravenous monster, whom was slowly consuming the entire hospital into itself. Splintered hallways drooped into the basement as if bitten apart by the mysterious beast, merely splinters and shards remaining. How a building could just fall into itself, be let to fall into itself, always perplexed Jen. And so Jen did not dare take the basement steps down into the dark. Yet always within the back of her mind, a voice of curiosity beckoned, lured her to push herself further, just as that hole in the fence had birthed her into this fascinating world weeks prior.

On one such steamy, humid summer day, Jen entered in through the hole in the fence ducking beneath the jagged cut wire as if it were a well rehearsed routine; partially as it indeed was. Westborough State Hospital became her playground and Jen was familiar with just about every inch of it. This time however, she was armed with a flashlight and a mission to finally explore it all. She would take those steps down and see what indeed existed below, trapped within the belly of the basement. Rounding a corner the last of the natural light disappeared and a dungeon like world of stone and brick emerged, illuminated only by the artificial beam from Jen's LED flashlight exposing what lay ahead. Occasionally, rays of orange glowing sunlight would infiltrate in through cracks within the flooring above extending like blades of light slicing through the blackness, but this was an anomaly to the otherwise all encompassing and deafening darkness.

Cob webs bogged down with decades of dust were clustered along the ceiling of the basement, taking on the form of aging grey hair of a wicked old witch. The floor below Jen's feet was dirt; cold and rutted, yet it sparkled like glitter under her light for broken bottles shards littered the soil, presumably old medicine jars. Within the underbelly of the asylum, ancient wooden support bracing existed like an internal rib cage, giving metaphoric life to the basement monster. The wood exuded a smell that could only be compared to that of decomposing detritus. The scent was pungent, it was as if you were being buried alive within it, taking your last breath of life. As Jen's flashlight beam swept the dark, she spooked two bats hanging side-by-side which jet up and out the stairwell behind her in a moment's instant, perhaps the only life remaining down here.

Within a back corner of the basement a pair of beady eyes glared back at Jen. As she focused her light she shrieked in horror at the sight of the clown; just an old bean bag toss cut out that had long been stashed, ripe with mildew. In the distance, Jen could hear the sound of metallic dripping echoing within the otherwise silent darkness. Following her ears as if they were her eyes, she was led by the sound to an ancient gurney which had been left to rest beneath a leaky steam pipe, its perpetual dripping corroding the iron stretcher into a hulk of rust.

As Jen pushed herself further into the dark, she followed the coarse brick walls with her hands, feeling with her fingers the damp cold water which had accumulated about the masonry. Soon, the brick wall turned at a ninety degree angle and led into a single room, no bigger than an average child's bedroom, however the room was filled with old garments and hospital apparel stashed upon wooden shelving sagging with sadness. It was like a treasure trove, a time capsule from a hundred years ago. The garments were far too saturated with condensation and stained with dirt to be recognizable in the dark, but she grabbed a handful, shoving them inside her backpack, which now had to weigh twenty pounds. The recesses of the basement dead ended in this corner room for a collapse of the floor above had prevented Jen from traveling any further and so she turned around and made her way back up the basement stairwell with her asylum finds in tow.

Making her way to a naturally well lit room, Jen emptied the contents of her backpack out across a dusty floor and examined the cargo under the friendly summer light penetrating in through the torn window shades. It was so hot inside the asylum that steam began to rise from the cold, wet basement garments now strewn out across the floor. Looking through the sack of soggy clothes, most turned out to be relatively uninteresting; a towel that looked to be stained with blood still, Jen threw it aside. A ripped nurses scrub, torn nearly beyond recognition, that too was tossed to the side. But then a metal belt buckle caught her attention, followed by another buckle, and then another. The brass buckles were all attached to long strips of white canvas material, which appeared to be in decent shape. The garment looked to be worn as a shirt except that the sleeves were entirely too long and there existed no hole for which the hands to protrude from, instead just another belt buckle and canvas strap. On the back of the white canvas, printed in large black block letters read the abbreviation, W.S.H.

When Jen began researching history about Westborough State Hospital months prior, she came across mention of the usage of restraint devices on patients. The brass buckles, white canvas, buttons, and long sleeves. Jen knew this was without a doubt a straitjacket she had found. In her excitement Jen began to slip the jacket on over herself. She was able to loosen the rusted buckles along the back enough to pull the canvas straps out and slip the jacket on over her head while slipping her arms into the long adjoining sleeves. Jen stood like a mummy with the loosened straitjacket limp over her body. In that moment she felt a sense of bizarre empowerment and connection with the shuttered hospital and all the lost souls whom may continue to haunt its halls.

Jen being a flexible girl, was able to reach behind her back and pull a couple of the straps tight. There were five straps total, however Jen was only able to tightly adjust four of them. As the canvas material tightened around her torso Jen felt safe and cocooned, like she was a part of the old asylum. However the canvas was not very breathable and the heat trapped with the hospital led Jen to begin to build up a sweat. She could sense her body was beginning to over heat, and at any point, she was getting carried away with the jacket. Jen was able to squirm and contort her arms easily enough to adjust the first rear strap and buckle loose, but her motions only made the remaining straps pull together tighter, soon she felt like she was being suffocated.

For a solid 30 minutes Jen struggled to loosen the remaining straps, even leaning up against a doorknob to try and yank them free, but she was stuck and now beginning to panic as her body was quickly starting to overheat. As additional minutes passed with no noticeable progress, panic began to overtake Jen's sense of rationality. Still on her feet, Jen was able to walk toward the stairs but with her arms still pinned tightly to her torso and chest within the long canvas sleeves; she was an unstable, wobbling mess. In a split second, a warped floor board caught Jen's shoe, causing her to trip and land face first directly into the cement ledge of the stairwell she had nearly made it too.

Jen awoke in a daze. Had hours past or just minutes? She did not know. However, thick black blood was rushing from her mouth. A puddled formed, stewing with a set dislodged teeth that looked to have been haphazardly thrown into the blood puddle like a handful of gambling dice. She could see the blood was beginning to flow down the steps and within the red river of gore an occasional tooth would bounce off the steps like a penny accidentally dropped down a staircase. Jen could feel with her tongue that her entire top row and most of the bottom row of her teeth had been knocked completely out by the fall. The taste or iron filled her mouth and she began to feel queazy and faint. Adrenaline kept the pain masked for the time being, but she had to get herself back up soon or risk passing out. Jen squirmed like a beetle stuck upon its hardened shell, attempting to position herself on her knees so she could use both her legs to upright her body. All the while blood was oozing from her mouth like a geyser, staining the white straitjacket a nauseating deep shade of red. Jen was able to inch herself to the first step on the stairwell, enough to where she thought she would be able to roll over on her side and use the last of her remaining strength to boost herself up to where she'd be able scoot on her butt down the remainder of the stairs and eventually back out through the fence hole to then scream for help.

But upon rolling herself over backside, a pool of blood gushed down her throat and Jen began to gag on the remainder of broken teeth fragments that had been ripped from her mouth during the fall. Violently choking, Jen lost her balance on the steps and rolled down the wooden stairwell like a human slinky, before slamming to a sudden stop a few flights down within the dark basement, her left leg twisted like a pretzel behind her head, arms still restrained to her chest. Jen laid motionless except for an occasional twitch, her body strewn across on the dirt floor, trapped within the darkness of the basement, the bowels of the monster she had only just confronted hours earlier. The cold muddied floor quickly penetrated the thin canvas of the straitjacket, sending a shiver down her spine.

Exhausted from the struggle and delirious from the mass loss of blood, the body's natural adrenaline began to wear off and the pain soon became unbearable. Jen's screams for help were silenced within the brick laden dungeon of a basement. She squirmed about the muddy rutted floor, her desperate pleads for help only wasting precious energy to the point where her vision began to fade as her body succumbed to the cold darkness of the basement, her mind soon following, slipping into an internal slumber beneath Westborough State Hospital. Jen was discovered weeks later by a group of Urban Explorers. Her body laying lifeless yet still tightly restrained within the comfort of her newly found straitjacket. Official cause of death; exsanguination.