Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hidden cemetery

the now-apartment-complex-but-previously-state-hospital that i showed you yesterday also had its own cemetery, as was very normal, i have learned by now. above one of the (many) pictures i took. like this it just looks like a green field, but row after row of flat stones are hidden in the grass, spaced not too much apart (i guess you sort of can see the horizontal rows here). ever since we went to that first abandoned mental instution in waltham, i am sort of "obsessed" with them. i had no clue that there were so many in the us, the history and ideas behind it. the successes and (probably more) failures. but since then i have read a lot, really a lot, and my head is completely stuffed with information i would like to repeat here.... i guess it will come in bits and pieces, as its far too much!
anyways, when we presented ourselves as possible future tenants of the beautiful apartment complex, we were truly amazed how nice it all looked (pfew....). the guy showing us around didnt mention what the building used to be, and we didnt ask. i did wonder how many people already had taken a tour just to see the building, knowing it used to be an asylum...... we also wondered whether they actively do not tell people about the history of the building, as it might scare away potential tenants. moreover, how many current tenants are aware of the building's past? after seeing the apartment, we toured the grounds by ourselves. the building you saw in yesterday's post is just a fraction of the original building, which was built according to the kirkbride plan. (i would love to elaborate on that, but the link will explain it better than i can!). i do want to mention that the place, opened in 1878, was designed to house 500 to 600 patients. but by the late 1930s..... it had 2000 patients, some of them were held (yes, i can only call it held) in the basements.....  
now in its place are small 2 and 3 story buildings, ugly in design and made of cheap material (as all new apartment complexes around here).
and then... it was time to find the cemetery. as i had found some good directions on the internet, it was not that hard to find. we passed a place that looked like some sort of memorial, but the actual plaque was still missing. in other words; nothing was there yet!! i later found online that this is meant to be a memorial dedicated to the hospital and its patients (written in 2008!!). why was that still not done? again not to mention the past too much, strategically "forgotten" by the management of the apartment complex...?  we found the small path and finally were on the cemetery. it was hot that day. and so quiet there. had i been scared (really, i was scared) when we were driving to the complex, i wasnt anymore after visiting the brand new apartments and now being on the quiet cemetery. it did make me sad..... again row upon row of numbers. only later a special committee dedicated to improve this cemetery had added stones with names and year of birth and death....
here on flickr some more pictures of whats left of the building, the new apartments, and more of the cemetery (it does start with the bread we baked that day, im so proud of it...). and here the other taphophiles!
sorry for making it such a long read and still not telling you that much!!

8 comments:

Paul @ Leeds Daily Photo said...

There is a once notorious former asylum not far from here, where they too have a small cemetery. I think they also rather glossed over the remains to the new tenants.

Paul @ Leeds Daily Photo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
biebkriebels said...

You did a lot of research about the building. It is a shame they left the cemetery so abandoned covered with grass. They should be more respectful with the deaths.

Kay said...

It looks to me as if the new tenants are the priority and the owners don't want them thinking about its history or the cemetery.

What a sad story! It would be so nice if they finished the work in the cemetery and cleaned it up.

Tim said...

I urge all to read about the Eugenics movement in America, the rise and fall of mental institutions in America, and the many horrific deeds committed will into the 1970ies. It's fascinating and a little depressing, but I believe that people should remember their history so that it's not repeated.

hamilton said...

"the echos they left behind" I like that sentiment.
perhaps, these realtors assumed everyone knows the history? those new builds are quite jarring behind the original building.

Shuko K. said...

Another great post!

I went to the cemetery well before I started my blog...thanks for reminding to revisit there.

And Tim is right! I also think Eugenics was the dangerously powerful tool that wrongfully justified the dehumanization of patients identities, which is represented by those numbered gravestones.

CaT said...

yes, i think its sad... and about time they at least finished the "memorial"!
@shuko; i wonder if you know where the second, smaller cemetery is! we didnt see it when we were there, but also didnt look for it as i didnt know there was a second. but on the internet i cannot find any directions...