Revisit the classic journey into some the history behind our fascination with derelict mental health hospitals. The same story you love, with modern narration and production, plus a new bonus story at the end.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
the setting of a story is everything it creates mood and atmosphere. It triggers memories and helps our minds fill in the blanks. Adding two Jane and suspense, where there was only words and images were would the shining be like without the long hallways of the overlook or the legend of Hell House. Without the dusty bones of the old black go out, and can anyone ever look at an old cabin in the woods without a chill running down their spine? Not me that's for sure, but one of the most I conic and most visceral settings from any horror story without question has always been the ins.
In asylum. These days, we refer to the institutions that treat mental disorders as psychiatric hospitals. There hard places to work. I know this first hand thanks to a colorful college internship that featured a double amputee who enjoyed streaking down the hallway on his knees. Mental health per nationals. Do amazing work, but a lot more than just the name has changed for these hospitals of the mind in the law, Eighteen hundred through the nineteen fifties, asylums were a very different place. They were filled with sick people in need of help, but frequently they were only offered pain and suffering. When HP love craft wrote the thing on the door.
Step in nineteen. Thirty three. He imagined a place that he called are come sanitarium our come is the seed. It's the first of its kind through it love craft, brought the asylum into the horror, genera and others quickly, caught on the famous super prison and Mental Hospital of Batman Universe, ARCA Silent is a blatant and direct call back to love crafts envy June, but our was based on a real place known as the Danvers State Hospital, The remains of it stand just a few miles from my front door and even before concerned, she began in eighteen. Seventy four, the hostile. story was already one of fear and suffering a theme that- Ten you'd, unchecked well into the twentieth century.
I'm Aaron Monkey and this is lore- before the days of institutional care for the mentally ill, the job, was left largely to independent contractors. People who were hired by the state to look after others, but that was a system with far too many opportunities for failure, patients routinely placed in cages or stalls and they were chain and beaten into submission. Violence, rape and death were everyday occurrences. Thankfully people began to look for a better, more humane way of caring for these individuals and those conversations led to the establishment of a new state of the art
till hospital plan started off on the wrong foot, though the site that was chosen for the construction was the former homestead of John Hawthorne one of the nine magistrates who oversaw the witch trials of Salem. In one thousand, six hundred and ninety two Hawthorne was known for his vicious harsh attitude toward those who were accused of witchcraft and he pushed hard their execution. He was so well known for his violent hateful personality that has great great grandson. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne change the spelling of his last name, adding the w to distance himself from that reputation. It was there on Hawthorne Hill that the foundations The hospital were laid, the chances are poor hi that no one made the comparisons at the time, but hindsight is always twenty twenty and looking back over the last century and a half its clear that Hawthorne's legacy lived on a taught that hill The Danbury State Hospital was actually intended to be a beacon of hope. There was a specific
plan behind its design, one that was based on the work of Doktor Thomas Kirk. Bride He designed the building with four radiating wings on each side of a central structure is reason with simple with more of the rooms exposed to sunlight and proper ventilation. More of the patients would experience recovery altogether The hospital was designed to house five hundred patients covering a wide spectrum of mental illnesses, who were served by a team of roughly one dozen staff. when the doors finally opened in eighteen. Seventy eight, it was originally called these state lunatic hospital and there was no other place like it in the country. It was set up to be a leader in the humane treatment of patients came the model for countless other facilities like it, and rightly so. The place was amazing. The ornate interiors private rooms and sunny corridors all connected to the Central Kirk Bride Building, the patients were encouraged to exercise and pretty,
to paint in the community gardens the small farm there even produced enough food for the hospital kitchen to feed the patient's home grown meals overtime, though a hospital expanded. There were separate tuberculosis, buildings, housing for staff, a machine shop, a medical building and a pump house to pull water from the reservoir. All of these locations were connected underground by a network of dark brick lying tunnels arranged in the shape of a wagon wheels to allow for easy movement during harsh doing winters. The hospital campus was the only thing that was expanding As with good things, the bright days of the Danvers State Hospital didn't last long more and more.
patients were admitted each year and the staff continue to struggle with keeping up. In addition, decrease state funding, prevented them from hiring more help by them. in twenty. The population had grown to over two thousand patients four times what the facility was designed to hold one eye. Miss reported that in November of nineteen forty five, the evening shift of the entire hospital consisted of nine people and they were expected to care for the needs of more than twenty three hundred patients. You'll have to pardon the expression. The things that the Danvers State Hospital had begun to get crazy Pay and were frequently sick and filthy. It was not uncommon for some to die unnoticed only to be found days later. nearly impossible for the staff to manage. So many patients, and so they turn to the accepted tools of their time, straitjacket, solitary confinement and even
strange, however barbaric they might seem to us today were mild compared to some of the other methods used by the staff patients were regularly subjected to hydrotherapy and electro shock therapy, and yet it somehow still managed to get worse? That's where the lobata me enters the story. first pioneered by Doktor Walter Freeman in nineteen. Thirty six, the lobata me was a complicated procedure. The surgeon would literally cut the patient's brain severing the connection between the frontal lobes and the fella. The goal was to reduce symptoms and make the patient more manageable, but the results were next, some patients died as a result of the procedure, while others would go on to take their own lives. Freeman, though quick, He grew tired of how long it took to complete the procedure he had heard of a doctor in ITALY who is operating on his patients brains through their I sockets working with
drilling or cutting presented an opportunity that Freeman simply could not pass up. He called his new technique. The Trans orbital lobata me its fairly easy to describe, but it's not for the faint of hot Freeman discovered that the only surgical tool he really needed was an ice pick. Into his son Franklin Freeman in a PBS interview in two thousand and eight those first ice picks came right out of their kitchen ice box and they worked like a charm said by inserting the ice pick into the inner corner of the patients I Freeman could punch through the skull to reach the brain. Then he would essentially stir the frontal lobe until it was no longer functional, oh and one more thing, he did all of this without anesthetic and he got good at it. So good, in fact that he took his shirt,
on the road he literally toward the nation in advance that he called the LA bottom Obiang, stopping a mental institutions where he would educate and train the staff in his own text and while he was there, he would perform as many LE bodies as they needed for the low low cost of just twenty five dollars per patient it might sound like Freeman was delivering a solution to a desperate industry, but that was pretty far from the truth is patients often lost the ability to feed themselves or use a bathroom unassisted in those skills would have to be rethought if that was even possible and while many patients recovered about fifteen percent died from the procedure lapses were common and sometimes the libitum eat would have to be re attempted once in nineteen. Fifty one at was Cherokee Mental Health Institute, Freeman stopped the middle of a La Bonamy ice, pick clutched in his hand, so that he could pose for a photograph
the instrument penetrated a bit too far and the patient died. You never wear gloves. Mask any apparently had no limits. In fact, of the thirty five hundred. The bottom is he performed in twenty three states. Nineteen of those patients were minors, one of them a four year old child and, ironically, some people still don't believe in monsters The horror of institutional, a bonamy ended in nineteen fifty four. When a new drug was brought to the market, nor is it was marketed as a chemical lobata me and the need for the surgical procedure dropped dramatically. The nightmare, though, never really stopped a damper state hospital
but this was just one more tragedy in a long string of bad news that had wrapped itself around the Damn restate hospital beginning in the nineteen sixties, massive budget cuts, building, closing and structural damage had all conspired to slowly push the doors closed. I have also heard rumours about teenage patients who went missing during the nineteen eighties. One accounts IRA put the number at over one hundred patients in the space of about three months. The hospital never spoke about it publicly, because the closure of their facility was already looming on the horizon, but they knew it was happening. According to this legend, when the staff was questioned about the disappearances, they all pointed to a new doktor on staff, in each case they said These patients had been assigned to this new doktor upon mission, but then vanished.
It's also rumoured that scraps of papers were found in several of the patients rooms. That mentioned a tall man and the woods. Some have speculated that this doktor had been taking. Patients outside the building were unknown reasons. Conveniently this doktor was never found or identify, But again, these rumours may very well just be a product of decades of dark reputation and I haven't found definitive proof that any of its actually happened. What is clear, though, is just how powerful of a pull the old house but past has on the imaginations of a curious. Even today what we do now though, is that by nineteen eighty five, nearly every building on the campus had been abandoned. The main Kirk bride, administrative building itself close down four years later, the last remit in patients were moved to another medical building on site, but we're all eventually transported to other facilities elsewhere. They say it took them.
national guard and eighty ambulances to do it. The hospital officially abandoned in the summer of nineteen. Ninety two and stood vacant and derelict for nearly a decade the rooms that and played host to the mindless victims of Doktor Freeman, and his ice pick became a dwelling for homeless squatters. They their lives around the decaying medical equipment, wheelchairs and bed frames. It was probably the healthiest inmate population, the building had known for decades. In two thousand five, the property was purchased by a developer. They much of the campus was demolish to make way for a sprawling apartment, complex but they left the front facade of the Kirk bride building with its soaring gothic towers and intricate brickwork. But the hospital didn't go quietly. pearl of two thousand seven four of those apartment buildings, as well as a handful of construction trailers. Mysteriously burned down
It was a fire, so big that it was visible from Boston seventeen miles to the south. There was in investing Jane, but it turned up no evidence other than webcam footage of the construction site which, inexplicably cut out just before the fire, began. image of an asylum, will forever hold a place in our hearts as something to be feared and avoided. Weather new and sunny or ancient and decay the asylum is a setting the causes, people to back away a ball of terror rising in their stomachs. But why
on a rational level. These were places of hope for many people, still the very concept of a residential hospital for the mentally ill, complete with nineteenth century de corps and equipment has become the stuff of nightmares. Perhaps what we really fear is losing control over our son restraints lacked rooms. Medication and irreversible medical procedures represent for many of us, the opposite of freedom fear losing our dignity losing our well being losing our very minds but death, is chasing. All of us the curse of mortality is that we are already handing those things over day by day until the time when there is nothing left to give. Perhaps the stereotypical asylum simply reminds us of the inevitable truth, that is, our own death
The Danvers State Hospital is nearly gone today, but reminders still linger of its presence. Besides the brick facade of the bride building, one of the roads, there is even called Kirk Bride, Drive, the war that provided the facility with its water can be found behind the apartment buildings and that vast network of ancient tunnels is still there as well just making its way beneath the modern structures and the people who live inside them. One final reminder awaits people who come for a visit, though the old asylum cemetery. It's where the staff buried patients who died and went unclaimed, my family there are no tall tombstones, though instead each grave is marked by a small square stone with a number engraved upon it, and there are hundreds of them. Anyone looking for the cemetery today will know they found it when they see the large bolder that marks the entrance. It was placed there in recent past to expire
y. All those square stones are there, but it's the message engraved upon it and not the grave markers themselves that communicates everything we need to know. It simply reads the echoes they left behind. Humans are relentlessly curious and that's often a good thing leading to many breakers, but as we learned in places like the Danvers State Hospital. That desire to learn and experiment also lead to a lot of pain and suffering and there are more examples of the same. In fact, I've tried
down one more tale at the intersection of science and human suffering, that I think you need to hear stick around after this brief sponsor break and I'll tell you all about it. many places in the world, have a heart that drives the life of the community. There, London, has long had banking and financing at its core. Los Angeles has made the entertainment industry their sole for the past century. These are the things that drive the economy, and inhabit the minds of many of the people who live there way up in the northern parts of Michigan no away from the hustle. and bustle of urban life. Mac. Island used to March by the beat of its own drum the fur trade from its earliest days. As a french outpost up through,
French and indian war and beyond. There had been a strong population of fur traders there, which is in June of eighteen, twenty two, it wasn't anew jewel in the least that there were more than a few hunters out. At the same time, checking traps and tracking their next kill. Mackinaw Island has never been large, but it was heavily wooded back then, and sits in the middle of a straight. There always seen b, something out, therefore trappers to capture on June sixth of that year, though, to hunters passed a bit too close to each other. One man fired his musket at an animal and missed his targets. Instead, his shot struck another trader in the side, thankfully the first and rescue the injured trader and brought him back to town for medical care. The man alive Saint Martin was bleeding from his abdomen, where the other hunters Musket had ripped through the muscle and tissue they're, making a hole in Saint Martin. Stomach. The physician who attended him. A man named
your William Beaumont did his best, though, and stop the bleeding when he was finished, he at a price He hadn't been able to so the wound entirely shut. There was a whole in Saint Martin side. That led directly into his stomach like an open, Indo in the sight of a submarine the Doktor Beaumont had an aid, yeah that he wanted to run by Saint Martin. This was a rare opportunity. He told the trader, Doktor Boma. Asked the man if he would be willing to allow himself to be studied for a while. You wanted to use This chance to study the human digestive system in a way that had never been done before to help ease Martens, mind even drew up a contract for their arrangements and, amazingly the injured trapper signed. It. Life for elects. A saint Martin was unique. After that moment, he would do
chores and hard labour for the doktor, but occasionally had to set all that aside and let his wound be explored and experimented upon. Doctor Beaumont would take pieces of food that he had tied to the ends of strings sort them into Saint Martin Stomach through the hole and then pull them out later and before we continue. Can we be clear and just declare right now? How weird this was it was an arrangement that scene pulled out of a nineteenth century, gothic, horror, novel and yet it was happening in real life. Saint Martin had become a guinea pig under the care of a man who was desperate for knowledge, and it had to have felt more than a little strange and yet well This experimentation went on for a long time, not weeks or months. No, this went on for years, eleven in that it wasn't until eighteen. Thirty: three that the agreement came to an end. Doktor Beaumont had opportunity farther south in Saint Louis and left town
but as soon as he was settled there, he began to write to Saint Martin begging him to come, join him, so the studies could continue, say: Martineau, politely, declined, Beaumont went on to publish his research and earn a bit of fame from an all. While Saint Martin moved on and try to live a normal life. He got married at a family and eventually move back to cut back where he had been born he died after a long and fulfilling life at the ripe old age of eighty. According to the legend, though say: Martens family was left with a bit of a problem bearing that them local community might come and take his body away for further experimentation. They decided
let Saint Martin decompose before burial, then, with a coffin ready to be buried, they dug the grave extra deep at least eight feet down. They say with the hope that any would be grave robber would fail. And, honestly, I hope it worked. This episode of law was researched, written and produced by me, Erin Monkey, with music by Chad, Lawson LAW, Is much more than just a podcast there's a book series available in bookstores an online and two seasons of a television show on Amazon. Prime video check them both out. If you want more lore in your I also make an executive produce a whole bunch of other podcast, all of which I think you'd enjoy my production,
penny grim and mild specialised. in shows that sit at the intersection of a dark and the historical There are more about all of our shows and everything else going on over in one central place, grim and mild dot com, and you can ask follow this show on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, just search for lore podcast, all one word and then click that follow button and when you do say hi, I like it when people say hi and as always, thanks for listening.
Transcript generated on 2022-03-12.