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Taunton State Hospital
It took Massachusetts until 1833 to establish its first "lunatic system" located in Worcester. By 1851 it had grown so dangerously overcrowded that the Legislature appropriated $100,000 for the construction of a new hospital. The Legislature appointed a commission to choose the site and oversee its construction. Interestingly, many communities across the state petitioned to have the institutions located in their towns. After a lengthy search the commission chose the City of Taunton who had raised $13,000 to buy a one hundred and fifty-four acre farm situated in the north of town.
The commission's site search was driven by specific criteria, and their vision, when the building and grounds were completed, was to "render it a spot fitted to interest and tranquilize the minds of those who need as well the soothing influences of external nature as the healing remedies of art." It was believed at the time that a bucolic setting of soothing topology would compliment and aid treatment. To that end, the commission settled on the farm in northern Taunton whose more than sixty acre grove, bounded by the river, extended to within a half a mile of the center of town. One advantage of the site was that the river acted as a natural barrier against the encroachments of an increasing town population, so that the institution would not gradually find itself in the heart of a large city. Click here for more...