Massachusetts Mental Health Center

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Massachusetts Mental Health Center
Established 1911
Closed 2003
Demolished 2011
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Location 74 Fenwood Road, Boston, MA
Alternate Names
  • Massachusetts State Psychiatric Institute
  • Boston Psychopathic Hospital


In November 1909 the site for the hospital was purchased on Fenwood Road, 5 minutes' walk from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Elmer E. Southard was appointed director of the hospital early in 1910, to supervise its construction. On June 24, 1912 the Psychiatric Hospital was formally opened as a department of Boston State Hospital.

On May 1, 1919 the Massachusetts State Psychiatric Institute was separated from the Psychopathic Department of the Boston State Hospital, which relieved the psychopathic department of scientific research, leaving it with purely hospital functions. On December 1, 1920 the psychopathic department was made into a separate Boston Psychopathic Hospital, under director Dr. C. Macfie Campbell. It was later renamed the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.

It was initially created to provide for the reception, diagnosis, and disposition of acute psychiatric patients in Boston, usually admitting patients for short periods only. After diagnosis patients were transferred to state hospitals or discharged for outpatient care. As the institution developed a reputation for acive teaching and research in psychiatry, cases from other state hospitals were transferred to it for observation or special treatment. After the first few years outpatient care was offered not only to discharged patients, but to the general public, with emergency and diagnostic services and special units for children and adolescents. The outpatient department of BPH was renamed the Southard Clinic in the mid-1940's in honor of the first superintendent.

By 1943 BPH was no longer a receiving hospital for all patients. Its focus instead shifted to treating and researching various mental illnesses. While many of the state hospitals were primarily custodial in nature, BPH emphasized treatment. During the 1950's and 60's it became more of a community-based facility, which was formalized when it was assigned DMH catchment areas in 1967. At the same time the change of name to Massachusetts Mental Health Center reflected its evolution into a multifaceted facility. [1]

The Building at Fenwood Road in Boston was demolished in late 2003. A new facility on Morton Street in Jamaica Plain, MA was set to open in 2012.

The Bloom Project[edit]

In 2003, artist Anna Schuleit filled the halls of the formed MMHC Building with 28,00 potted flowers. This project, called BLOOM, was in remembrance of the patients and employees of the hospital, which was slated for demolition after being open for over 90 years.

In an interview with Collosal, Schuleit said,

"In 2003 I was working as visiting artist in a psychiatric institution in central Massachusetts when I got a call from another institution in Boston that was about to close. I was asked if I would consider creating a project for the closing of the historic building—the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. I said I needed to see the building, learn about its history and people and its particular architecture. I had done this sort of work before, at the Northampton State Hospital in 2000, a project that took me almost four years to complete. But here I had no more than three months to do the entire project, start to finish. So I started immediately. I asked for an office in which to crash and brainstorm, a key to every door in the building, and a person who knew all its stories. It took me about a week to create the concept for the project, and then three whirling months to make it happen."[2]

Images of Massachusetts Mental Health Center[edit]

Main Image Gallery: Massachusetts Mental Health Center


  • Bloom was a four-day installation by Anna Schuleit Haber at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston, the former Boston Psychopathic Hospital, for which twenty-eight thousand potted flowers in bloom were brought together from all around the country, as well as 5,600 square feet of live sod.



  2. "Bloom: 28,000 Potted Flowers Installed at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. Colossal.March 12, 2012. Accessed November 4th 2013.