Bridgewater State Hospital

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Bridgewater State Hospital
Bridgewater State Hospital
Construction Began 1866
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Alternate Names
  • Bridgewater Workhouse
  • Bridgewater State Workhouse
  • Bridgewater Prison for the Criminally Insane


[edit] History

This hospital has been used as a prison mental hospital for it's entire life. The controversial documentary "Titicut Follies" was filmed at this location as an expose on the treatment of the prisoners located there.

From the Massachusetts state archive:

St 1866, c 198 established the State Workhouse at the State Almshouse at Bridgewater, like it under the Board of State Charities. The almshouse itself was abolished by St 1872, c 45. St 1879, c 291, which replaced the Board of State Charities with the State Board of Health, Lunacy, and Charity, gave the workhouse its own board of trustees, replacing a board of inspectors; St 1884, c 297 replaced this by a Board of Trustees of the State Almshouse i.e., at Tewksbury and State Workhouse.

After a fire, St 1883, c 279 authorized removal of the workhouse to quarters at the State Reform School at Westborough; return to Bridgewater was authorized by Resolves 1884, c 76. St 1887, c 264 renamed the institution the State Farm.

The institution was placed successively under the State Board of Lunacy and Charity (St 1886, c 101, s 5) and the State Board of Charity (St 1898, c 433, s 24) --by 1918 its governing board was called the Board of Trustees of the State Infirmary and State Farm. St 1919, c 199 removed the State Farm from both boards, placing it under the Massachusetts Bureau of Prisons, replaced per St 1919, c 350, s 86 by the Dept. of Correction.

The institution originally received inmates of state almshouses convicted of being rogues, vagabonds, and the like (i.e., misdemeanors) as per GS 1860, c 165, s 28. (This was extended to anyone so convicted per St 1869, c 258.) Also admitted were incorrigible inmates of state juvenile reform institutions. State charges generally could be placed there as well per St 1872, c 45 (i.e., after the closing of the Bridgewater almshouse) by the Board of State Charities (and successors)--by the Dept. of Public Welfare per St 1921, c 486, s 28. Also admitted were aged or physically or mentally infirm inmates of the State Prison (St 1890, c 180; St 1915, c 184)

Insane male state paupers were committed there per St 1886, c 219; these were limited to inmates of correctional institutions per St 1894, c 251. St 1895, c 390 designated so-involved parts of the State Farm as the State Asylum for Insane Criminals, placed per St 1898, c 433, s 9 under the State Board of Insanity (and successors) and known per St 1909, c 504, s 98 (and which see): Bridgewater State Hospital.

St 1911, c 595 authorized a department of defective delinquents (established 1922) and St 1922, c 535 designated the State Farm as a correctional unit for alcoholics and drug addicts, inheriting functions of the Norfolk State Hospital.

St 1955, c 770, reorganizing the state correctional system, redesignated the State Farm as Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Bridgewater. Its functions relating to misdemeanor convicts were terminated per St 1956, c 715, s 21; to state charges generally per St 1956, c 715, s 5; to aged or infirm state prisoners per St 1955, c 770, s 122; to defective delinquents and drug addicts per St 1970, c 888, s 6 (effective 1971); those relating to incorrigible inmates of state juvenile reform institutions had already been terminated per St 1948, c 310, s 22.

A unit was added for treatment of sexually dangerous persons per St 1958, c 646, under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Mental Health (see: Massachusetts Treatment Center)

[edit] Images of Bridgewater State Hospital

Main Image Gallery: Bridgewater State Hospital

[edit] Cemetery

The cemetery was established in 1853 for burial of paupers then once the hospital opened, for the burial of patients and inmates. It has around 350 graves, marked by a numbered stone.

[edit] Books

  • Screw, a guard's view of Bridgewater State Hospital, by Tom Ryan

[edit] Video

Titicut Follies is a black and white 1967 documentary film by United States filmmaker Frederick Wiseman about the treatment of inmates / patients at Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane, a Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The title is taken from a talent show put on by the hospital's inmates. (The talent show was named after the Wampanoag word for the nearby Taunton River.) In 1967 the film won awards in Germany and Italy. It was one of a number of films made by Wiseman that examined social institutions: hospital, police, school, etc., in the United States.

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