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The Swampville Supermax

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Exploring

A couple of years ago, I made a trip with a friend named J out to Massachusetts to visit one of the state’s old Tuberculosis hospitals. This spot is well known for a short list of unique features, including a couple rooms with interesting medical machinery. It was a weird, informal and unplanned visit, and we hadn’t done much to get the temperature of the spot. Turns out the place had seen a lot of traffic, and security couldn't wait to meet us.

A quick drive past the entrance before parking showed no one on duty at the security shack. We parked and headed across the road and into the woods. We had the urge to skip right to one of the main buildings, but instead decided to check out one of the outlying buildings first to take some pictures and get our bearings. So in attempting that, we found a squat little auxiliary building, which sprawled out in a wide T shape, and looked a bit like a long green barn. While it didn’t seem like there'd be much to see at first, the inside featured some intense and photogenic lighting, and we found some substantial floor collapses, along with eroded walls, rust and peeling paint. There was even a porcelain bathtub, spotlight-illumined by a hole in the ceiling. About an hour after getting in, we packed up and made our way across the grounds to the dormitory building at the rear of the property.

Solero

Solero

It wasn't sunny for very long, but holes in the walls and roof made for some interesting effects.

The dormitory building at the back of the property looked like it was a relatively new construction. We followed along the tree line and approached the rear of the building. We could see from a distance that there were no boards over any of the windows. What we found instead were sticks, propped up into the window frames forming an X across each window. It was obvious that we didn’t want to disturb these, so we made what seemed like the obvious choice, to go into the window that had no sticks. From there, we hoofed it immediately to the top floor to set up our camera gear and take photos as we made our way down.

Pyramid

Pyramid

This particular building was seven stories high, which (at the time) was probably the tallest abandoned thing I had ever stood inside of. We found significant fire and water damage on the top two or three floors. It looked like the local fire department had been doing controlled-burn fire training on the top floors, possibly working their way down. Some rooms on the fifth floor were completely destroyed, seemingly at random, while others were fully intact. The building looked newer, and was made up mostly of cinderblock walls with drywall or plaster partitions with drop ceilings. The building’s floor plan/layout was weird, with a hallway that worked it's way from one site of the building to the other making what felt like random right and left turns. There was also a spotless and perfectly intact elevator machine room, which was a neat find.

Deadlock

Deadlock

It took us a couple hours to make our way to the ground floor where we packed up and got ready to head out to the next building, which was supposed to be doctor’s housing and a lounge. As we made our way over to the exit window, we noticed someone wandering around outside. He looked like he was in his 30s, and was wearing casual clothes: a hoodie and camo cargo shorts. He was staggering around checking the windows, and it looked like he was trying to find a way into the building. For a split seconded we wondered if we should call him over to let him know where the easiest way in was, but fortunately thought better of this. We watched from the next room as he wandered up to the window we had used to get in, and pulled what looked like a (really nice huge Nikon DSLR) camera out of his bag to take photographs of our muddy footprints on the floor. He then put the camera away, and took out a cellphone and started dialling. We had chosen to go into the window that didn’t have any sticks across the frame. What we had (apparently) missed was that someone else had probably taken them out before we got there, and now this guy had decided that this person was still inside the building somewhere. Obvious misunderstanding on his part, since we had already been through the whole building and whoever had moved those sticks definitely wasn’t in there. So with very little discussion, J and I decided to head over to the other side of the building, where we waited out for a while. Eventually the guard was out of sight, having wandered on foot away from where we were laying low. We could see the property entrance from our hiding spot, and hadn’t noticed any police cruisers yet. We figured it was time to make our exit, so we hastily bailed out of a window (that, turns out was ten feet off the ground) and then stumbled into the woods and headed towards the road.

Gray Horizon

Gray Horizon

We had escaped without any further issues, admittedly a little bit spooked. The stuff I had seen was entertaining, but we missed out on the main medical building. What I didn’t understand is why security was all “army ranger” about the place. There was nothing left to vandalize or scrap. And while the top floor had some interior walls that had been ruined by the local fire department, there were virtually no structural hazards.

Anyway, this goes down as a success. Maybe with a “reattempt for high score” for next round.

Tags: abandoned, asylum, children's hospital, close call, exploring, fire damage, hospital, Massachusetts, Photography, security guard, trespassing, tuberculosis

Swampville State Hospital

Swampville State Hospital

Location

Status:
Abandoned
Type:
Institutional
Location:
Massachusetts, US  United States flag

Status

Access:
Restricted
Security:
Patrolled
Condition:
Gutted
Hazards:
Isolated

Timeline

Built:
1907
Opened:
1910-01-06
Closed:
1992-02-08
Demolished:
n/a

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