Formerly known as "Creepy-chusetts, Strange-chusetts".

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Medfield State Hospital Cemetery, Medfield

Continues from: Medfield State Hospital

Remember us for we too have lived, loved and laughed – Medfield State Hospital Cemetery

After visiting the now defunct psychiatric hospital, I headed to the Medfield State Hospital Cemetery where the patients between 1918 and 1988 are buried. Driving to a field half a mile apart from the hospital, I was thinking about how the deceased had been carried to the cemetery.

I have to confess that walking through a woodland to the cemetery was little scary; a little visibility made me anxious where the passage leads to. However, I soon arrived at a well maintained cemetery gate. There was a modest monument with inscription: Remember us for we too have lived, loved and laughed*. Looking at a desiccated flower basket on the monument, I was regretting not bringing a bouquet. 

*The word on the monument, which was erected in September, 2005, appeared on the movie Shutter Island, as the crew used the Medfield as a part of their movie sets. The phrase was written by a former Medfield State High School student.


It is not a first time walking through a cemetery like this, and I always experience a complete silence. There is a constant noise of cars from a nearby road and sound of birds from surrounding woods, but how strange… there is no sense of sound in the field. With a tingling sensation, I observed austere concrete headstones with numbers for identification purpose.  However, many were associated with newer gravestones with the names, and the years of birth and death of the patients.  

Observing the gravestones and imagining the faces of the deceased, I was thinking about a handful of people I saw at the hospital. When I visit nature trails I always say hello or hello-back to pass-bys… I wondered why the people I encountered at the hospital -- non-goth grown-ups who love exercising -- avoided eye-contact (well, except the guy on SUV). At the end of the day, it is no nature trail, and they might have regarded me as a non-local weirdo snooping around. 

I was convinced about the weirdness when I headed back from the cemetery to my car parked at a nearby nature conservation. There were a father and three children packing up to leave. I said hello to the father just to be courteous, but he gave me a blank stare through a pair of sunglasses. Driven by desperation, I also said hello to the children; they literally gaping at me as if they encountered an alien (OK, I AM an alien, etranger, auslander, gaijin…or whatever to you, kids!); I felt as if I were an escaped patient from the hospital.
I have to clarify that what I think creepy is not the deceased or cemetery but the power that enables reducing people’s identity to mere numbers, like the headstones at the cemetery. We -- the people outside of the institutional wall -- do have a fear towards the confined “unknown”. The numbering may be the process of reducing the anxiety to something tangible but faceless facts, dehumanizing them to a level that we have forgotten they too have lived, loved and laughed.


Locate Medfield State Hospital Cemetery @ Google Map  

Paid Respect: Hospital dead get names, not numbers, Wicked Local Medfield:


  1. we went here yesterday!
    (first we watched the movie shutter island, i think they could have done a better job with that one).
    it was the same as you described, the policemen were warning us not to get too close to the building, and they, at first, kept driving around to check out what we were up to (i think thats what they were doing), telling us to keep a distance. then they retreated to their post and let us walk around. it was very impressive. but weird also, that they just let it be like that, i think.
    and at the cemetery we saw a small turtle!!

    1. Hi CaT,

      Medfield was my first few posts! The guard I met let me alone as soon as we exchanged a few words. Why is this left like this wise: I heard there was a contamination in the soil (which is cleaned up now) for some reason I can't recollect right now. Maybe Scorsese asked to keep like this?

      Will you post the Mdefield?

  2. yes, i will post it sometime. but i also have the danvers that i would like to post before... :)
    i'll let you know when!
    (one of the first things the officers mentioned was "its not like shutter island!!")