Belchertown State School

Belchertown State School

“Belchertown State School,” Image by Matthew Hester, CC BY-ND 2.0

Quick Facts

30 State St, Belchertown, Massachusetts
Agriculture, Social History, Architecture, Education, Health/Medicine
National Register of Historic Places

The Belchertown State School opened in the fall of 1922 as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ third “school for the feeble-minded," with the specific purpose of serving the western half of the state. The need for such an institution had been recognized at least as early as 1913, when the Trustees of the Fernald School in Waltham recommended establishment of such a school to serve the great demand for admissions from that quarter.

The site was purchased in 1915, and development was begun in 1918 under the initial supervision of the Wrentham School. The Belchertown State School, which was closely modeled on the grounds and building plans of Wrentham, and which continued the nationally renowned treatment programs begun at Fernald, represents the mature development of the state school system as it existed prior to the mid-twentieth century. It was regionally significant as the only school for children with developmental disabilities in western Massachusetts. The Belchertown State School clearly reflects the development of the Massachusetts State Hospital and School System, with its period of significance extending from 1915 to 1940.

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Last updated: September 7, 2017