Is there anything creepier than an abandoned psychiatric hospital? Fairfield Hills Hospital near Newton, Connecticut truly looks like something out of a horror movie. At one time, the facility was home to over 4,000 patients.
One of the biggest psychiatric institutions in New England
Fairfield Hills Hospital first opened its doors on June 1, 1933. The hospital was designed as a campus-like facility. The buildings are colonial-style, built in red-brick. The entire complex could easily pass for a typical New England college or boarding school.
Fairfield Hills Hospital was created in 1931 because the other two state mental hospitals were experiencing extreme overcrowding. The other two state-run psychiatric hospitals in Connecticut were Norwich State Hospital, built in 1904, and Connecticut Valley Hospital, which opened in 1868.
Initially, Fairfield Hills housed fewer than 500 patients, with only three doctors. At its peak, the hospital was home to over 4,000 patients, 20 doctors, 50 nurses, and about 100 other employees.
The Fairfield Hills hospital complex consisted of 16 different buildings. Like many of the psychiatric hospitals in America at the time, the buildings were connected by tunnels.
The tunnels at Fairfield Hills Hospital were primarily used to move patients and equipment between the different buildings – especially in the winter months or when the weather was bad. The tunnels were also used to transport food and even corpses to the morgue located on the complex.
It wasn’t until 2009 that these tunnels were welded or boarded shut. Newton officials became increasingly concerned about the safety of individuals who were exploring the abandoned hospital, especially if they were exploring within the tunnels.
Treatment at Fairfield Hills
Fairfield Hills Hospital offered their patients services and treatments similar to those provided throughout the country. These services included custodial care and work-based therapies, in which the patients were paid token wages to assist with operations within the hospital.
More intense services were “offered” for those considered to be seriously ill. These services included hydrotherapy, insulin coma therapy, involuntary sterilization, and surgical lobotomies.
Despite some of the more archaic services performed at Fairfield Hills Hospital, it is apparent that the doctors, nurses, and employees were not devoid of compassion for the patients. For example, Plymouth Hall on the hospital campus housed a chapel, theater, gymnasium, bowling alley, and different workshops that the patients could use.
The decline of Fairfield Hills
By the 1950s, important changes were developing in the mental health community. Journalistic exposés about the treatment of patients in psychiatric facilities and state hospitals raised both public awareness and concern for those living in these facilities. Similarly, mental illnesses were starting to be studied more and better understood by professionals.
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The 1960s and the 1970s saw the deinstitutionalization of state hospitals. This meant that there was less of a need for hospitals such as Fairfield Hills. In 1995, Fairfield Hills Hospital was shut down and any remaining patients were transferred to other facilities. A few buildings remain in use today, while others have been demolished. There are several trails and parks around the area that are open to the public.