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Hunting for abandoned places in Massachusetts? You’re in the right place. Below are 18 of my favorite abandoned places throughout the state.
Abandoned Places In Massachusetts
1. Belchertown State School
Established in 1922, the Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded was known for its inhumane treatment of patients, lack of funding, and brutal practices. Parents would comment that the school was barbaric, horrific, and medieval.
Doctors would do little to determine if a person was mentally disabled, and often label homeless and those with anxiety as “mentally defective”. Staff was underpaid and overworked which led to abuse and other extreme practices.
For instance, healthy teeth were commonly removed from those who had bitten staff more than once. The physically handicapped were left in their beds all day, to suffer from bedsores and muscle loss.
In 1966, Massachusetts passed the Mental Health and Retardation Services Act which required institutions to transition to more human and ethical forms of treatment. Slowly the horrific conditions of Belchertown State School were brought to light.
In 1971 parents sued the school and made headlines in the local paper. This was the first of many lawsuits that would follow regarding abuse and wrongful death. Finally, after 70 years in operation, the school shut down in 1992.
Today the campus is overgrown and collapsing in on itself. Several arson attempts were made causing minor damage to the building. In response, the town has increased its police presence in and around the building.
Of all the abandoned places in Massachusetts, the Belchertown State School has the darkest and most tragic history.
2. Clinton Tunnel
The tunnel was built in the early 1900s as a part of a four-mile track extension from West Berlin. The rail line was used for both passenger and freight transport. As automobiles took the stage and trucking became a more optimal transport option, businesses faded for the rail line.
By 1930 the railroad had lost a majority of its traffic. Passenger services were halted in 1958, and the railroad was ultimately abandoned.
The Clinton Tunnel is a well-known spot by locals, and is a popular place for kids to tag. While there are more exciting abandoned places in Massachusetts the Clinton Tunnel is still a cool spot if you’re in the area.
3. Medfield State Hospital
Medfield State Hospital was a campus of 58 buildings constructed in the late 1800s. The hospital focused on psychiatric care and was originally named the Medfield Insane Asylum. Instead of following the classic Kirkbride layout, architects designed the buildings in the New Cottage style.
This design choice focused on more open areas for communal work, and eliminated the small cells of previous designs. During its peak, the hospital could hold 2,200 residents. The facility was self-sufficient, putting residents to work. This helped reduce costs as well as taught residents important skills they could use after their therapy.
The hospital is one of the most famous abandoned places in Massachusetts after it was used as a filming location for Shutter Island. The property was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and closed down in 2003.
Much of the campus still stands with only three buildings being demolished. Police regularly patrol the grounds and monitor for trespassers. On the property, 841 graves can be found mostly unknown souls who died while seeking treatment.
Due to the size and risk associated with exploring Medfield, novice explorers should view from a distance or plan extensively.
4. Whittenton Mills Complex
Whittenton Mills Complex is a historic textile mill built in 1805. Even before the mill was constructed the area had been used for industry dating all the way back to 1670. The mill would primarily manufacture cotton goods during the course of its lifetime.
By 1883 the factory expanded to nearly 400,000 square feet and has powered by five electric engines and multiple water wheels spun by the current of the Mill River. In 1917 the factory had over 45,000 spindles and 1,640 looms.
Like our previous location, parts of the movie Shutter Island were filmed on location in 2008. Much of the concentration camp scene was filmed at the Whittenton Mills Complex. In 2012 the owner announced a Chinese investment firm would invest in transforming the site into a business park and condos. Little to no progress has been made.
Despite its age, the building is in great structural shape. Many of the windows and entrances are sealed most of the time. Not many explorers have been inside so its unknown what artifacts might be left behind.
5. Walter E. Fernald Developmental Center (Fernald State School)
The Walter E. Fernald Developmental Center was the oldest publicly funded institution that assisted those with mental disabilities. Originally built in 1888 the site was called the Experimental School for Teaching and Training Idiotic Children. The facility would quickly grow to include over 72 buildings across nearly 200 acres of land.
Living conditions for the children were poor at best, with many “mentally deficient” children scoring average on IQ tests. Roughly 36 children slept in each dorm. These cramped conditions led to sexual and physical abuse amongst the children and their caretakers.
Between 1946 and 1953 Harvard University and MIT conducted secrets experiments on the children for nuclear medicine research. Subjects were exposed to tracer doses of radioactive isotopes and tested their absorption of iron and calcium.
Boys were encouraged to join the “Science Club” where they were experimented on in exchange for trips to baseballs games, parties, and iron-rich treats. Blood and stool samples were taken after exposure with no content given by the children or their parents. In total, 57 boys were experimented on.
In the early 2000s, the facility was used to care for mentally disabled adults. At the time it was prohibitively costly to keep the site in operation.
The facility was shut down in 2014.
Outside of special events, the property remains abandoned. A good portion of the property is on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings now sit silent as a grim reminder of how we treated those different from us, and how some preyed on the vulnerable for the greater good.
Of all the abandoned places in Massachusetts, the Fernald State School has one of the darkest histories on our list.
6. Steinert Hall
Steinert Hall was built sometime in the late 1800s as an opulent theatre for Boston’s Teather District. The building is an impressive piece of architecture built in Beaux Arts-style with impressive limestone arches visible from the street.
Four stories below ground is the concert auditorium where classical musicians would play during the early 1900s. This theater was closed in 1942 due to fire code restrictions. The owners deemed the cost of upgrading to code would be too costly.
In 2015 new owners announced they would like to rehab the theater but little progress has been made.
The theater hasn’t been used since its closure 1942. The stage is now filled with junk and other remnants from the past. The building is sealed shut and now features an alarm system installed by the new owners.
7. Abandoned Fire Control Tower
Admittedly, not much is documented online about this Fire Control Tower. What we do know is that these towers were part of a coastal artillery defense network tasked with protecting the Boston Harbor during World War II.
The network of towers extends 75 miles along the Massachusetts coastline. These towers would identify enemy vessels and direct artillery fire from local batteries.
If you’re interested in the full history of how these towers defended Massachusetts there’s an entire article dedicated to how these towers protected the state.
Today only 27 remain standing. The one featured at this location has recently been purchased and is now considered private property. There’s a fence surrounding the tower and it[s possible someone lives on the property today.
8. Dogtown Square
Dogtown Square is one of the more unique abandoned places in Massachusetts. Dogtown settlement was a small area first settled in 1696. The town allegedly got its name when one of the last residents died, her dogs became feral and overran the town.
The area grew over time to encompass about five miles and offered good natural protection from pirates and hostile natives. During its peak, Dogtown had around 80 homes and as many as 100 families. Dogtown’s population would fall as the American Revolution came to a close.
With the country much safer from conflict, many people took to the waters and other open areas to find fish, minerals, and other natural resources. Without enemy ships, cargo could traverse to other more resource-rich areas for settlement. By 1812, many farmers had left Dogtown behind.
The town’s name was eventually tarnished by accusations of witchcraft. One resident, Thomazine “Tammy” Younger was dubbed the “Queen of Witches” since she intimated anyone who passed through the area.
By 1828 the village was abandoned. The last resident Cornelius “Black Neil” Finson was found freezing to death living in a vacant cellar. He was relocated and the town was razed in 1845.
Today, not much is left of this old ghost town but strange boulders that dot the property. These boulders were etched with inspirational sayings by contracted stonemasons. Roger Babson paid was an economist who paid for this to be done.
Today these stones are one of the last remaining signs that anything other than the forest was ever here.
9. Becket Quarry
Back in 1860, the Chester-Hudson Quarry played a vital role in developing the town of Becket. The quarry produced mostly granite that was used to construct statues, buildings, and ornate art pieces. The quarry operated until the 1960s before shutting down.
We’re not sure why the quarry shut down. It would have been because the newly discovered Portland Cement was cheaper to use, or that the quarry simply ran out of resources.
Many find it odd that so many things were left behind as if the workers simply dropped their tools and walked away. Remnants of vehicles, tools, machinery, and buildings are all still left behind and often covered in heavy vegetation.
Becket Quarry is free and open to the public, making it one of the more interesting free abandoned places in Massachusetts to visit.
10. Jenny Lind Tower
A stone tower pokes out of the trees in North Truro making you feel as if you’re back in the middle ages. The Jenny Lind Tower is actually the last remnants of the Fitchburg Railroad depot located in Boston. The tower got its name after singer Jenny Lind performed a concert above the station.
The concert was oversold, leaving many unable to enter. Angry fans crashed the gates and the performance was cut short. Ever since the nickname stuck. In 1927 the station was slated for demolition, but Lawyer Henry Aldrich wanted the tower saved.
He paid to have the tower disassembled, transported, and reconstructed on his property where it now sits today.
The tower is left abandoned and can be accessed through a small path in the surrounding forest. It’s definitely a unique spot and is even more captivating in the fall months.
11. Eyrie House Ruins
The Eyrie House Ruins are all that remains of an old hotel that first opened in 1861. The hotel offered beautiful views of the Connecticut River and surrounding mountain ranges. The views and amenities drew in travelers far and wide. It’s estimated the hotel saw several hundred travelers per day during its peak in 1881.
Competition and mounting maintenance costs forced the owners to begin construction on a new hotel to replace the old Eyrie Hotel. One spring night in 1901, a funeral pyre was lit for two dead horses. Winds carried the fire which set the mountain top ablaze.
By the time the smoke cleared, only the cellars and stone foundations were left standing. William Street, who owned the hotels was devastated and abandoned the site along with any future plans.
The ruins are part of the surrounding park. You can visit the site by following signs and taking a roughly two-mile hike from the nearest parking.
12. North Truro Air Force Station
If you hunt for abandoned places in Massachuttes, you’ve undoubtedly heard of North Truro Air Force Station. This base was one of the first radar sites that served as an early warning station to detect Soviet bombers and air attacks.
Bases like this were common on the east coast and throughout the northern Canadian border. Ultimately, the base was closed in 1994, along with many of the older radar bases at the end of the Cold War.
Today the property is owned by the National Park Service. Expect steep cliffside and high fences that surround the base. Many structures contain asbestos so use proper protection and avoid disturbing any debris.
13. Rutland Prison Camp
Rutland Prison Camp was constructed in 1903 to rehabilitate criminals with minor offenses. The camp was similar to many prison farmers during the turn of the century, which worked inmates across 150 acres of land.
Prisoners picked crops, planted seeds, and took care of the farm’s cows and chickens. Rutland Prison Camp supplied enough food to supply the prison as well as the nearby town of Worcester. In 1907 the site built a tuberculosis hospital to treat patients.
Even with this success, the site was forced to close as water drainage from the nearby town was flooding out the area. In 1934 the site was abandoned and the prisoners were moved.
Much of the wooden structures have decayed completely but the concrete ruins are still visible and covered with graffiti. While there isn’t a whole lot left, it provides a unique look at how prisons operated during the turn of the century.
Ponyhenge is by far one of the strangest abandoned places in Massachusetts. In a random field, metal and plastic ponies form a circle and have been there for quite some years. Why this place exists is a mystery remains a mystery even to locals.
The horses allegedly swap positions, seemingly overnight. While this might not be your typical idea of an abandoned location, I still thought it was an oddity worth mentioning.
The family that owns the land is welcoming to anyone who wants to check out the site for themselves. Just keep in mind it is private property with active owners. If you’re nearby I’d definitely stop by to see this wild attraction. It’s not everyday something like this ends up on our list.
15. Ford’s Folly
Ford’s Folly was named after none other than Henry Ford who tried to build a town here in 1923. Henry Ford wanted this town to resemble early pioneer life and be a historic village that would inspire others to live the way the pioneers did.
During operation, the 300-person village had a wedding chapel, grist mill, water-powered mill, and an Inn for guests. The dam which is still visible today was designed to protect the area from water flowing down Hop Brook. To keep things historically accurate, the dam was made using locally sourced stone and good old-fashioned manpower.
Like many things built in the “good old days”, the dam wasn’t destined to last long. The dam failed to hold the amount of water it was supposed to, and was deemed a failure. Over the years repair efforts were made but all failed.
The project was eventually abandoned.
The dry dam and all its glory sit in the middle of the woods. It’s a strange sight to see but is open to the public. The dam stretches just under 1000 feet in length and towers 30 feet over the woodlands.
16. Hotel Alexandra
This High Victorian Gothic style building was originally known as the Walworth Building when it was first built in the 1870s. The hotel was run by the Walworth Brothers who had other businesses in manufacturing throughout Boston.
The hotel stood out from the other warehouses that surrounded it, and often drew in a more wealthy crowd. This began to change during the early 1900s as more manufacturing and a new train line were built right outside the building.
The building was abandoned but acquired by the Church of Scientology during the 1990s. Inside was in rough shape. Today, the property is on the market and nearly all the windows are boarded shut.
17. Victory Theatre
The Victory Theatre was built in 1920 in the Art Deco style by early movie pioneers Samuel and Nathan Goldstein. This was the brother’s big bet on moving picture film to be the next big idea in entertainment. In the early 20s, silent films and live musical performances took place inside the Victory Theatre.
During the 1940s the building suffered damages and was in need of repair. During the 70s the theatre would continue to offer continuous shows from one until 11:00 PM. Sadly, the theatre was closed in 1979 when the owner failed to pay back taxes.
Activist Helen Casey started a group “Save The Victory Theater Inc” to try and raise funds to save the old building. While efforts were made, repair costs were estimated at $4.5 million, with ultimately nothing happening from their efforts.
Ownership was transferred to the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts in 2009. After fundraising, the organization is working on plans to restore the theater, although its progress is unknown.
Today the theater is still in rough shape, but is thankfully safe from demolition for now. The building is relatively well sealed now as the new owners have secured the site in anticipation for restoration to begin.
18. Tremont Street Subway
The Tremont Street subway is the oldest subway in North America dating back to 1890. The subway was built to alleviate automobile congestion above ground. The station served five different stations: Boylston, Park Street, Scollay Square, Adams Square, and Haymarket.
During 1963 the northern section of the tunnel was redeveloped and ultimately filled in to support the new Boston City Hall that was being built above it. This ended the rail service for that line leaving portions of the tunnel abandoned underground.
Today the tunnel exists as a buried portal underground that ends in a dead-end. Access isn’t easy, and involves bypassing portions of boarded walls near Boylston station. There are rumors you can access the tunnel somewhere close to Emerson College as well.
Due to the danger of live tracks, we recommend avoiding this location, or at the very least exercising extreme caution.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Massachusetts, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.