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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Belchertown State School, Belchertown

The Belchertown State School for the "Feeble-Minded" was established in 1922. The above is a theater with an underground gym where a basketball court and a mini bowling alley left abandoned with icy, squishy floors.

A series of journalistic coverages and lawsuits in the early 70's disclosed the Belchertown's unsanitary, overcrowded condition at some of the dorms where over 80-year-old residents lived with other 120 residents who were "mentally, all two-year-olds in the physical bodies of grown-ups."*  

The school was closed in 1992. A talk of converting the complex into a "5-star living " spa  surfaced in 2006, but even twenty years later, the site remains abandoned.

What is the power that institutionalizes people? Why is such authority dismantled now...or the structures are left derelict, but the system of institution became more invisible and more pervasive? What are the forces that led to the closure of the Belchertown and other countless institutions in the nation; benevolent efforts to place intellectually disabled persons into a community based care, frail of a large scale institutional care, or shift to private enterprise? Where did all the residents go after the closure? Do I know all the answers?

*Robert Hornick, The Girls and Boys of Belchertown. Amherst: U of Mass P, 84.

Locate Belchertown State School @ Google Map