“The Devil himself is still here . . .”
This hospital was built on a 154-acre farm along the Mill River in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1854.
|State Lunatic Hospital|
The hospital initially named, State Lunatic Hospital was designed to treat the mentally ill. It followed a plan developed by Thomas Kirkbride. He insisted the mentally ill should be treated with care and compassion.
So this hospital was built with a large campus, recreational rooms, and comfortable bedrooms. It allowed patients to be exposed to sunlight and fresh air.
All this looked good on paper but what this hospital was for many years-- like most mental asylums in the U.S. at one time—was a place to throw away a portion of humanity that no one wanted to be bothered by.
According to a local legend the fact that thousands of mental patients suffered here have made it one of America’s most haunted.
|Click to enlarge|
Some people believe the ghosts that linger are a result of the more violent patients kept at Taunton. One such patient was an infamous serial killer, Jane Toppan.
Toppan raised by a crazy relative, became a nurse. She used her patients as guinea pigs. She dosed them with a combination of drugs, which basically poisoned them.
She took a sick perverse pleasure in watching them die. It is said it aroused her. She would crawl into to bed with her victims and hold them as they slipped away. Among her victims were her foster sister and husband.
Other lore states this hospital is haunted because of an even darker history. It is said that some of the staff at the hospital—including doctors and nurses were involved in a satanic cult.
Stories are told of patients being used in experiments and offered up as sacrifices to appease the Devil.
It is said this happened regularly. These staff members would escort patients to the hospital basement where they performed these rituals.
Other staff found strange markings and blood covering the basement walls. One staff member states when he went down to discover what was going on he couldn’t get past the last stair step.
He said overwhelming feelings of pain and suffering hit him. He quit his job the same day. Years later he still finds it difficult to talk about.
Whether one believes these stories or not there is documented evidence that patients began to refuse to go down in the basement with staff. When they refused, they were punished.
Even today, people claim that this area is icy cold even in summer.
Another area of that appears to have paranormal activity is the woods that surround the old hospital.
Witnesses claim to have heard moans and cries for help. Unexplained banging sounds are heard. Others have seen strange lights and felt icy cold drafts among these trees.
A cemetery that sits within the hospital grounds is also considered haunted. This haunting began when a patient one night escaped his room and too tired to go on hiding in this cemetery.
As he crouched near a tombstone, he felt a cold grip squeezing his shoulder. Thinking he had been discovered, he stood up holding his arms high only to find no one there. A minute later he heard a voice whisper in his ear, “Leave.”
Terrified, this man returned to his hospital bed. Later he discovered a large bruise on his shoulder where he had felt the hand.
|Chair by moonlight|
in the bedroom.
Over the years, patients and staff have seen several ghosts in the hospital. A typical sighting is of a man wearing white on the third floor.
He is seen walking along the corridor. Witnesses state his form fades in and out or just vanishes.
Even more creepy he is seen slowly crawling along the wall as a shadow or his full form is seen striding across the hall in an apparent rage. More recent residents of the hospital state they have seen this figure in the corner of their bedrooms watching them.
His head appears in shadow or is faceless. This form disappears when the lights are turned on. Some speculate this is the Devil waiting for the next victim to be sacrificed.
Other activity reported at the hospital is lights turning on and off, doors slamming and cold spots.
This hospital has been in continuous use since it opened in the mid-1800s. Most of the older building has burned down, collapsed or been torn down. In the 1990s the hospital and surrounding area were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
|Old abandoned buildings|
The more modern buildings on the property still provides services for the mentally ill.