Gaebler Children's Center
Thaddeus P. Krush M.D.
The Children's Unit at the Metropolitan State Hospital
Until 1946, Massachusetts children who became severely disturbed were sent to the same institutions as adults. Every state hospital had a certain number of children 16 years of age or younger, a situation which was extremely undesirable. In 1946, the Department of Mental Health initiated a plan under which all disturbed children were sent to the Metropolitan State Hospital and placed in a separate Children's Unit. In 1952, the Commonwealth became the third state to open a building especially designed for such children. This program has received national recognition.
The Children's Unit at the Metropolitan State Hospital housed about 90 children. They were seriously disturbed, and required a large and devoted staff to care for them. Tranquilizing drugs and other methods used in treating adult patients are not as successful when used with children, whose care demanded more personal attention.
The unit provided not only therapy, but schooling as well, so that the children may return to society with a minimum loss in their education. In many cases, the Department worked with the families of these children in order to improve family situations which may have contributed to the child's illness.
The new children’s hospital was located southeast overlooking Trapleo Road and suburban Belmont away from the main hospital to emphasize its character as an individual unit. From the outside the building is not particularly revealing. It was a brick cross-shaped in plan, three stories high plus a “flying bridge” for a library and four school rooms. It cost $1,500,000 and had 180 beds.
Dr. Thaddeus P. Krush M.D. was the present clinical director of children’s wing at Met State and a senior clinician in child mental care in Massachusetts stated he can think of only two other hospitals in the country that approach this one in purpose and size. They are the Allentown Penn. State Hospital with 100 beds, opened in 1929 and the Rockland, N.Y. State Hospital with 120 beds open in 1934.
Dr. Krush had a big hand in designing the new building along with former superintendent Dr. William C. Gaebler, architect Gordon Robb, and a number of doctors and nurses on the staff. The new hospital was under Metropolitan State Hospital Superintendent Dr. William F. McLaughlin with Dr. Krush as its first clinical director.
On October 8th, 1952 the unit for psychotic children under 16 years of age opened.
In 1955 the building was officially named the Gaebler Children's Unit named after William C. Gaebler, the second superintendent of Metropolitan State Hospital. It accepted referrals of emotionally disturbed children from across the state. In 1984 Governor Michael Dukakis signed an executive order prohibiting the placement of citizens under the age of 9 in adult mental hospitals. Although Gaebler was a separate entity, it shared Met State's laundry, pharmacy, groundskeeping crew, engineering and electrical staff.
In April, 1962 an in-ground swimming pool was built at the hospital which was located in back of the facility. Funds were donated by friends, family and private organizations. Date is unknown when the pool officially closed.
On January 31st 1992, the Gaebler Children's Center closed and was left abandoned for the next 19 years. The Gaebler Children's Center was completely demolished in January, 2011.
Massachusetts Mental Health and Hygiene report 1952
Dr. Philip A. DiMattia
Abandoned Gaebler Images
© John Gray