Danvers State Hospital

Exterior of a red brick building
Former Danvers State Hospital. Photo by John Phelan (CC-BY-3.0).

Quick Facts

450 Maple Street, Danvers, Massachusetts
Health/Medicine, Education, Architecture, Social History, Agriculture
National Register of Historic Places

Danvers State Hospital, an extensive mental health care facility established in 1874, reflects changing attitudes toward treatment of “the insane” in its exceptionally well-preserved buildings and grounds. It is dominated by the 1874 Kirkbride Complex, a huge brick with granite trim structure designed by noted Boston architect Nathaniel J. Bradlee in the Victorian Gothic style. Closely modeled on the precepts of Thomas S. Kirkbride, it includes space for patients, attendants, and administration, reflecting a centralized approach to care. Later buildings such as the Male and Female Nurses Homes represent the segregation of patients and staff; the male & female tubercular buildings and the Bonner Medical Building represent specialization of medical treatment; the cottages, repair shops, and farm buildings represent an increased self-sufficiency for the hospital, an emphasis on occupational therapy and increased dispersal of the hospital population.


When built, it represented the latest contemporary advances in technology and engineering as well as architecture. Later additions reflect changes in mental health care philosophy and contribute to an understanding of the overall functioning of the hospital. Historically, Danvers State Hospital is significant for its leading role in treatment for people with disabilities, including an advanced occupational therapy program, early training facilities for staff, and a long-term concern with community health issues.

Image Source

National Register Nomination


Last updated: September 7, 2017