Post Content

Barbara Leadholm By DMH Commissioner Barbara A. Leadholm, M.S., M.B.A.

Construction of the new Department of Mental Health (DMH) hospital in Worcester is near completion and on schedule to open next year. While the new facility has great significance for the future of mental health treatment throughout the Commonwealth, the grounds and building of the previous Worcester State Hospital (WSH) are rich with history of the Department and reflect how psychiatric care in Massachusetts has evolved over the centuries. Many people may not know that Worcester State Hospital, built in 1833, was the country’s first public psychiatric hospital and served as the model many states soon followed.

The spark for excavating the artifacts of WSH began with the love of history. When plans for the new hospital were finalized several years ago, a group of hospital and DMH staff, consumers, hospital board members and other stakeholders who are passionate about history and the historic nature of Massachusetts hospitals got together and began the work of collecting, archiving and cataloguing the innumerable historic artifacts of WSH and the Department’s other campuses. This project has evolved over the past several years and reflects current efforts to preserve the legacy of DMH and the history of psychiatric care in the Commonwealth. Plans are developing for many of these artifacts and the story they tell to be on display in the new hospital when it opens next year. In the meantime, DMH will be able to do a “dry run” of what this display might look like.

When Dennis Rice, executive director of Alternatives, a DMH service provider, proposed the idea to mount an historic exhibit of Worcester State Hospital at Alternatives’ Aldrich Heritage Gallery in Whitinsville, we jumped at the opportunity. Our band of dedicated DMH history sleuths have uncovered some fascinating artifacts, photos and documents in their travels through our buildings, many of which are now catalogued and safely stored. On Friday, May 20, I along with Dennis will host the opening reception of “Remembering the Past, Forging a New Future: A Historic Retrospective of Worcester State Hospital” from 3 to 7 p.m. at the gallery. The retrospective will be on display through July 29 (The gallery is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

DMH_1933_hand decorated OT scrapbook Among the many books, photos and documents was this hand-painted scrapbook containing memories of the hospital’s occupational therapy department, dating back to 1933.

 

 

 

 

Historic_resuscitator case  

suitcase in remarkably good shape and surprisingly, contains respirator equipment.


 

 

 

 

 

DMH_watercolor of WSH One of the many pieces of art hanging on the walls throughout Worcester State Hospital is this original watercolor that speaks to why WSH was often called “the hospital on the hill.”

 

 

Written By:

Recent Posts

The Commission on Bullying Meets to Discuss Ways to Prevent Bullying in Public and Subsidized Housing posted on Jul 13

The Commission on Bullying Meets to Discuss Ways to Prevent Bullying in Public and Subsidized Housing

The concept of bullying has increasingly become a widespread issue affecting many individuals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, especially elders and those with disabilities. In order to resolve bullying in public and/or subsidized housing, all members who are affiliated with the housing community must be   …Continue Reading The Commission on Bullying Meets to Discuss Ways to Prevent Bullying in Public and Subsidized Housing

In innovative partnership, City and State team up to house chronically homeless older adults and pair them with services & supports posted on Jun 23

The City of Boston’s Boston’s Way Home, in partnership with MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and MassHealth, hosted a “housing surge” on June 15, designed to connect chronically homeless older adults with housing while qualifying them for services and support.  This unique partnership   …Continue Reading In innovative partnership, City and State team up to house chronically homeless older adults and pair them with services & supports

Massachusetts Commission LBGTQ Youth Swearing In posted on Jun 20

Massachusetts Commission LBGTQ Youth Swearing In

Secretary Marylou Sudders, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, members from the Legislature, and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Youth (LGBQT) Commission came together in the beautiful State House Library to recognize and celebrate the LGBQT Massachusetts Commission. Established 25 years ago,   …Continue Reading Massachusetts Commission LBGTQ Youth Swearing In