Friday, September 7, 2012

The View From Here: Welcome to the Almshouse Edition

Can't you just imagine horse drawn carriages and early cars dropping off future inmates, patients, and residents of the Tewksbury Almshouse?

Pictured to the left is the Old Administration Building. Built in 1894, this building first accepted inmates to the Tewksbury Almshouse. The Public Health Museum notes that the name of the hospital changes over the years reflecting a change in mission as well as a change in how people were cared for. The facility was renamed Tewksbury State Hospital in 1909 and Tewksbury State Hospital and Infirmary in 1938. It has cared for paupers, pauper insane, alcoholics, and people with illnesses such as tuberculosis, smallpox, sexually transmitted illnesses, and typhoid. Currently, the facility goes by the name of Tewksbury Hospital. It provides acute and chronic hospital level of care for medical patients with Huntington's Disease, HIV/AIDS, and those in need of neurological rehabilitation. Additionally, the facility also provides psychiatric  treatment for adults over the age of 19 with serious mental illnesses that require the security of a locked unit.

Something I'm currently investigating: other institutions of the time include: State Colony for the InsaneIndustrial School and Home for Crippled and Deformed Children; and North Reading State Sanatorium, and the Medfield Insane Asylum. It was a different era and the way we talked about and named conditions that people had were very different than our customs today. It seems incongruent that Tewksbury would be named a hospital while other institutions of the era were asylums and colonies for the insane. I suspect somewhere along the line some well-meaning local historians have altered the names of the institution to make it sound 'nicer'.

For more of my explorations of the Tewksbury Almshouse see here, here, and here. For more about my trips to the Medfield Asylum click here, here, here, and here. If you'd like to read about my very first trip to an asylum click here.

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