Metropolitan State Hospital

Waltham, MA

Metropolitan State Hospital was the last large state hospital to be built in Massachusetts, completing a long line of institutions there built between 1830 and 1930. Met State was designed to reduce the demand for room at Boston State Hospital and to provide an institution which was more convenient to the metropolitan Boston area.  Its design would fuse the psychopathic hospital (formerMass. Mental Health Center) and the "asylum" on one isolated site, continuing the now-standard 'hospital' model of care for people with a mental illness. After Metropolitan State Hospital and several additions to existing large state hospitals in the 1930's, a second wave of medical buildings in the 1950's attempted to introduce an even stricter medical model to the asylum campus. A cookie-cutter approach was taken and several identical structures were added to several of the state hospital grounds. All were extremely institutional-looking, with barred windows and interior tiles. All were places at the 'front-door' to the campuses, in an attempt to make them highly visible to the public.

 

Closed in 1992

On November 19, 1991, the census was down to 180 patients. By this time 324 employees had left, and the remainder of patients and workers would leave within the next two months. The other significant development was the opening of a DMH replacement unit at Cambridge Hospital. A contract was signed on December 16 to provide seventeen acute-care beds to accommodate Cambridge and Somerville patients.

As Metropolitan State headed for closure, there was an increase in petty theft as some wards were closed. This was stopped by moving all furnishings and equipment from the unit and sealing off the closed area immediately after the last patient had left. When all was said and done, the final displacement of the 382 patients was recorded as follows:

Metro throughout the years

The Met State Disconnection

The Met State Disconnection was a newsletter that was distributed monthly to the employees of the facility in the early 90's right before closing. The newsletter was an uncensored  conversation between staffers.  Hospital management didn't take kindly to these letters considering the “questionable” content and "dirt" being dished on a monthly basis. These flyers were left in cafeterias, on coffee stations, posted on bulletin boards, and left on car windshields. As you'll see, the person behind these letters did not hold back his/her opinion. To this day the writer(s) remain anonymous.

 

Please note that the statements, stories and accusations made in these newsletters are directly from the author(s) only. They have not been rewritten, edited or dramatized.