Lost Hospital — The Massachusetts Hospital for Dipsomaniacs and Inebriates, Foxborough, Massachusetts0

The Massachusetts Hospital for Dipsomaniacs and Inebriates, located in Foxborough, Massachusetts, was founded in 1893. In its time, Foxborough Hospital was a pre-eminent institution for treating alcoholism, which by the end of the 1800s was perceived to be a growing problem in the United States.

Society’s method for dealing with alcoholism at the time was either jail or mental hospitals, but both were ineffective in keeping habitual alcoholics sober. Specialized “inebriate asylums” were designed to restrain the patient and eliminate any cravings for alcohol.

There were essentially three different ways for patients enter Foxborough Hospital:  (1) involuntarily after intervention by a friend or relative, and confirmed by a court petition; (2) voluntarily, which totaled approximately 7% of the population; or (3) through the cooperation between the criminal court and the hospital, placing habitual young alcoholics on probation, subject to spending a certain period of time at Foxborough Hospital.

The Massachusetts Hospital for Dipsomaniacs and Inebriates, designed by architect Charles Brigham, had separate, ornate treatment rooms. In 1905, the hospital added psychiatric disorders to its list of services, and in 1910 changed its name to Foxborough State Hospital.

With the passage of Prohibition by the Federal Government in 1917 and subsequent ratification by the states some 13 months later, the hospital focused its work on mental health.

To accommodate a mental health hospital, the series of buildings originally designed to isolate alcoholics were bridged together. The wide passages that connected the dormitories were used as day rooms.

A large addition in the 1950s created tiled dormitories in a separate but similar-shaped wing, transforming the hospital’s footprint into an L-shape. Other facilities on campus included a theater building, chapel, farm, staff residences, and two cemeteries.

In 1976, Foxboro State Hospital ended psychiatric services. The building continued to house certain state offices (like the Department of Motor Vehicles), and a few dormitories were still used by the Department of Mental Health (for developmental services).

In the early 1990’s, all other operations ended at the hospital, due mostly to the deterioration of the building and also as a result of concerns about asbestos. In 2009, the hospital was renovated into a residential-retail-office complex.

Photographs from Opacity.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.