The Belchertown State School is located off of Front Street and Berkshire Avenue in Belchertown, Hampshire County, Massachusetts.
The Belchertown school complex opened in 1922 with the original buildings of the Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded architecturally styled in Colonial Revival. It was the only school in Western Massachusetts for developmentally disabled children. The school was built on a cottage plan with a kindergarten, a music teacher, six grades of grammar school and a gymnastic class. The first day the school was opened 65 boys were transferred to the school and over a week later 128 more were transferred. The total capacity of the school was 710 and there were only 428 in the first year. By 1926 there 743 disabled children at the Belchertown School.
Initially things were perceived well at Belchertown School but by 1945, the school was suffering from being overcrowded and having fire hazards. In the following years it would be exposed that the conditions at Belchertown State Hospital were awful with patients having good teeth removed for easier force feeding, sexual abuse, vermin infestation of wards, not properly being taken to the bathroom and patients sitting in their own excrement, overall neglect and much more. When 1972 came so did the first class action lawsuit against Belchertown and so did the resignation of the superintendent. With these followed more lawsuits and more resignations and books written by patients who suffered depravity at the Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded. With the continuance of de-institutionalization and more personalized care facilities the school shut down in 1992. Learn more about the workings at Belchertown School for the Feeble Minded.
The school has been abandoned ever since but many plans have come to surface on what to do with the buildings and land. One project is to tear down all the remaining buildings and build a new facility of assisted living homes. Another plan involves the University of Massachusetts Amherst creating mixed use development for the land.
The buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
This former state school has some buildings suffering from extreme decay with several buildings beyond repair, safety should always come first and trespassing is illegal.
Where is the abandoned Belchertown State School located? You can find it with these coordinates. 42.275233,-72.415052.
All images used under Creative Commons License Attribution Non Commercial No Derivs 2.0 Generic. All Images by Steve Doherty / Flickr / _stevie_.