Danvers State Hospital was one of the most notorious asylums during its time. Built in the 1880s, it served the noble purpose of helping mentally ill children. Things changed in the 1920s and that horrible period formed the ghosts we know today.
It was built in 1874 and opened in 1878. It was a multi acre, self contained psychiatric hospital. It is also rumored to have been the birthplace of the pre-frontal lobotomy.
The hospital itself had a kitchen, laundries, a chapel, and dormitories. On each side of the main building were the wings, for male and female patients respectively, connected by small square towers. The outermost wards were reserved for extreme patients, the west side was male and the east side was female.
The original plan was designed to house 500 patients, with 100 more possible to accommodate in the attic. However, by the late 1930's and 1940's, over 2,000 patients were being housed, and overcrowding was severe. People were even held in the basement of the hospital.
The asylum was originally established to provide residential treatment and care to the mentally ill, its functions expanded to include a training program for nurses in 1889 and a pathological research laboratory in 1895. In the 1890s, Dr. Charles Page, the superintendent, declared mechanical restraint unnecessary and harmful in cases of mental illness. By the 1920's the hospital was operating school clinics to help determine mental deficiency in children.
Thanks to the addition of the mentally handicapped, alcoholics, and plain old felons, it became so severely understaffed by the 1930's that patients deaths were often not discovered until days later, when they were found rotting in some forgotten corner. Shock therapy and lobotomies were standard procedures - in fact, some call Danvers the "birthplace of the prefrontal lobotomy". But a large cemetery on site, said to be haunted by evil spirits, suggests these were not always successful.
Danvers has never been a ghost hunting hotbed because the site is closed to the public. Many paranormal investigators have tried to sneak into the compound, but they got arrested before entering. The State of Massachusetts and the community police routinely patrolled the grounds. Over 120 ghost hunters have tried and failed to get access to the site.
However, a few of them did succeed during the day. Only one team, The Rhode Island Paranormal Research Group, has investigated at night in the last 25 years. They haven’t released any evidence of that night, nor have they spoken about it.
Many ghost hunters snuck into the property before demolition. Very few of them captured any evidence. In most cases, they caught phantom foot steps and a few shadows.
There’s only been one eyewitness report to surface over the years. Jeralyn Levasseur stated she saw a ghost when she lived there as a child. The ghost pulled the sheets off her bed and it manifested as an older, scowling woman. Levasseur said she never felt threatened by the ghost. She also confirmed it only appeared one time.