Photographs of
New Hampshire State Hospital

photographs, text, and compilation of links are Copyright 2010 by Ronald B. Standler

Copyright   This website, , including each of my webpages and each of my photographs, is my personal property.   Each of my photographs here, and also my text, is protected by copyright law and my contractual terms of service.   Please enjoy looking at my photographs at my website, but do not copy either my photographs or my text, and do not display them at another website.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Main Building
  3. Bancroft Building
  4. State Hospital Cemetery (also called: "Clinton Street Cemetery", or "Meadow Cemetery")
  5. Links and Bibliography
  6. My Comment on Official History


In the year 1842, the State of New Hampshire opened the "New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane" at 105 Pleasant Street in Concord, NH.   In 1901, the name was changed to "New Hampshire State Hospital".

In 1903, this State Hospital became responsible for the care of all insane people in New Hampshire, and county buildings for the insane were closed.

There were approximately 2000 patients at this State Hospital in the year 1930, about 0.4% of the population of the state.

A little-known fact is that the State of New Hampshire operated a small nursing school at the State Hospital beginning in 1888 (first class graduated in 1890) and ending in 1983.   Tuition was free, room-and-board was free, and the students were paid a stipend for their service at the State Hospital.

Some of the old State Hospital buildings have been converted to offices for state employees, some other old buildings have been abandoned.

The current state psychiatric hospital was built in 1989 on the south side of the old State Hospital campus, at 36 Clinton Street.   The hospital is now called "New Hampshire Hospital."   The psychiatrists are currently provided by contract with Dartmouth Medical School.   My webpage here is about the former New Hampshire State Hospital, mostly as it existed in the 1890s or early 1900s, not the current state psychiatric hospital.

Note about my photographs:   To make this webpage load faster, I have converted the high-quality, 4000 × 3000 pixel files from my digital camera to medium-quality, lower resolution files (typically 480 × 360 pixels).   In order to preserve the fidelity of the data, I have not made any adjustment of exposure or color with software.   My photographs have the date in day/month/year format stamped by the camera.

Main Building

The Main Building, at 105 Pleasant Street, was constructed in the year 1842.
The Main Building is located on the top of a hill. View from the parking lot at the bottom of the hill in front of the building. The Main Building is difficult to photograph, because the front is very wide, but only three or four stories tall. I have cropped the original, high-quality 4000 × 3000 pixel file from my digital camera to produce a medium-quality, 816 × 240 pixel JPG file to display here.

On the back side of the Main Building are three halls, each perpendicular to the front seen in the above photograph. The north side (right side of the above photograph) was for male patients, the south side was for female patients. The center hall contained the kitchen, laundry, dining room, and chapel.

The Main Building was heated by steam from a furnace burning coal. This photo shows the chimney and coal chute behind the Main Building. The rear of the Main Building is visible at the right edge of this photograph. There are six lightning rods around the circumference of the top of the chimney.
Telephoto lens view of top of chimney, cropped to 1888×1218 pixels and then reduced to 480×310 pixels, shows four of the lightning rods.

Southwest corner of Main Building, showing exterior of rooms for patients. Note the bricks on the right side are a different color than the other bricks. I think the bricks on the right side are part of the original Main Building, and the bricks in the center and left are parts of additions (i.e., Kent Building) in the early 1900s to the Main Building.   Also note the lattice of steel bars over each window.

Detailed view of one window on the south side of the old Main Building.

Bancroft Building

The Bancroft Building was constructed in the year 1892 for female patients. The Bancroft Building is a few tens of meters south of the Main Building. There appears to be an enclosed walkway from the Main Building to Annex Nr. 1 (living quarters for nurses, built in the year 1899) and continuing to the Bancroft Building.
View of the front of the Bancroft Building.

View of the west side of the Bancroft Building.

View of the south (rear) side of the Bancroft Building, seen from the southwest and looking upwards to the roof.

In these three photographs, notice the complicated architecture. This is not a simple, rectangular building. Notice also the lack of bars on the windows.

Although the Bancroft Building is fifty years newer than the Main Building, the Bancroft Building is now in worse condition, probably because the Main Building continues to be used, while Bancroft is abandoned. When I visited in November 2010, the red warning tape on the rotting front porch of Bancroft had fallen down — even the warning tape was in disrepair!

The building is named for Dr. Charles Parker Bancroft, Superintendent of the New Hampshire State Hospital from 1882 until 1917.

State Hospital Cemetery

also known as

Clinton Street Cemetery
Meadow Cemetery

It is common for large state psychiatric hospitals to have a cemetery on site. Many of the patients had incurable mental illnesses and spent the remainder of their life confined to the state hospital. Formerly homeless people may have had no known family to claim the body at death. Some families may have sent a "crazy" person to the state hospital to dispose of them, and those families did not want the body returned at death.

The New Hampshire State Hospital Cemetery in Concord, NH is located off Clinton Street, between Mandevilla Lane and the Turkey River, as shown on the U.S. Geological Survey topographic map.

A small stone set in the ground near the entrance on Clinton Street says only "Meadow Cemetery". This one little stone is the only identification for this cemetery that I could find in Nov 2010. The small flags are for Veterans Day, which was two days before this photo was taken.

The graves are located more than 230 meters from Clinton Street, as if the cemetery owners were trying to hide the graves from passing traffic on Clinton Street.
Wideangle view of the cemetery seen from the fence along Clinton Street. The fence shown in this photograph is the fence on the eastern edge of the cemetery. The headstones and white cross are barely visible to the naked eye — you can see them only if you know to look for them. (Notice the path worn in the grass along the fence on the east side of the cemetery, probably used a dozen times each year by a truck hauling a lawn mower in and out of the cemetery.)

Telephoto lens view of the cemetery seen from the fence along Clinton Street.


The following list of reasons indicates to me that the owner of the Meadow Cemetery was/is trying to hide the cemetery from the public:
  1. The Meadow Cemetery is actually the Cemetery for the New Hampshire State Hospital. However, the name "New Hampshire State Hospital" does not appear at the cemetery site. Furthermore, the sign for "Meadow Cemetery" is small and inconspicuous, as if the owner did not want it seen.

  2. When I first saw the "Meadow Cemetery" sign, I thought I had found a cemetery that was unrelated to the NH State Hospital. The cemetery's original name, "Clinton Street Cemetery", also attempts to divorce the cemetery from the NH State Hospital.

  3. The cemetery is located 1.3 km from the nearest corner of the State Hospital campus. Why the remote location? There is plenty of vacant space on the hospital campus.

  4. The headstones and cross are more than 230 meters from Clinton Street, so they are not easily visible to passing automobiles, as shown in the above photographs. Originally, the cemetery was probably totally surrounded by brush and trees, except for the entrance on Clinton Street. The west side and south side of the cemetery continue to border wilderness.

  5. There is no paved road inside the cemetery. (The above-mentioned path worn in the grass inside the cemetery leads to a padlocked gate on Clinton Street.)   There is no parking space(s) inside the cemetery. There is no parking space(s) near the cemetery. The only accommodation for visitors is one bench near the west fence.

  6. When I first searched the Internet in October 2010 for "New Hampshire State Hospital Cemetery", I could find no information on the Internet about the dates the cemetery was used, and I could find no photographs of the cemetery.   The official history of the New Hampshire State Hospital does not mention the cemetery.

Given these reasons, one has the impression that this cemetery was intended to be forgotten, not visited.   Obviously, the cemetery owner did not expect visitors, because there is no parking in or near the cemetery.   However, the grass had been recently mowed and the cemetery was in good condition when I visited in November 2010.

One advantage of having a hidden cemetery — and this is important — is that vandals are less likely to desecrate a hidden cemetery. I worry that my posting information on the Internet about this cemetery might help a vandal find the cemetery. However, I think it should be rare that our society restricts information to those with an approved "need to know". It is the misuse of information by criminals that is wrong, not the existence of information in libraries and on the Internet. The former State Hospital and its cemetery is part of the history of the people of New Hampshire, and history should be recorded and available.

With the recent construction of a paved road (Mandevilla Lane) and new houses along Mandevilla Lane, the chain-link fence on the east side of the cemetery is now contiguous with the backyards of houses along the west side of Mandevilla Lane. When I visited on 7 Nov 2010, I parked on Mandevilla Lane and walked across a vacant lot to the cemetery fence, but such easy access will not be possible in the future, after the housing development is completed.

People who live on Mandevilla Lane should be vigilant for vandals in the cemetery, to protect a unique historical resource and to avoid desecration of graves. Please call the police immediately if you see vandals in the Meadow Cemetery.


There are three groups of headstones in Meadow Cemetery. The largest group has approximately 140 graves, arranged in 9 rows before a simple white Christian cross.
First six rows of headstones in the largest group of headstones. I cropped the original photo, then reduced the resolution to 960 pixels on the longer side.

First few rows of headstones in the largest group of headstones. I cropped the original photo, then reduced the resolution. I noticed that all of the headstones appear to have a uniform size and design, which is typical of government cemeteries.

The second group of headstones is along the fence on the west (i.e., Turkey River) side of Meadow Cemetery. This image is cropped from a wideangle photograph taken from the fence on the east side of the cemetery.

A third group of headstones is along the south fence, at the end of Meadow Cemetery that is farthermost from Clinton Street. I did not photograph this third group of headstones, because they are located near houses and I refuse to walk through backyards of people's homes.

Random Individuals

I used a telephoto lens on 7 Nov 2010 to photograph a few individual headstones from the east fence of the Meadow Cemetery, near Mandevilla Lane. The following photographs are all cropped from a larger photograph.
Grave of Elvie Aldrich, who died 9 April 1939.   The bottom of each headstone has the symbol Æ followed by the age (in years) of the person at death.

Grave of Lawrence Howe, who died 14 Feb 1940.

Graves of
On 15 Nov 2010, I went to the New Hampshire Vital Records Office at 71 Fruit Street in Concord, NH and checked the death certificate for each of these five people. (Here's a tip: ask the librarian to find the certificate, because the records in boxes do not appear to be in strict alphabetical order.)   Each of the five died at the New Hampshire State Hospital and was buried in the State Cemetery, which confirms that the Meadow Cemetery is the State Hospital Cemetery. The cause of death on the certificates was mostly heart disease, with no mention of psychiatric disorders (except for one person's "senile psychosis" listed as an "other condition").


For pre-1990 information, books in a library are typically a better source of information than the Internet. I have found the following interesting articles in libraries:

Comment on Official History

no effective treatment in the 1800s

The official state history says:
In 1903 the New Hampshire Legislature passed an act assigning to the state the responsibility for care of mentally ill patients throughout the state. Prior to that time, the Hospital had functioned more as a private institution, with a high percentage of curable patients, who were treated and released. Many of the state's incurable mentally ill were indigent and cared for by the counties at country farms or almshouses. With the new act, all patients were transferred to the State Hospital, increasing its population from 475 in 1903 to 1,086 a decade later. The act had an enormous impact on the Hospital. Now, a large percentage of its patients could not be cured and discharged. The buildings added to the Hospital grounds after 1903 reflected the increasing need for space and the change in the nature of the patients.
Official history of the New Hampshire State Hospital, at page 8 of 15. <visited 18 Oct 2010>
This official history seems implausible to me. In the 1800s, there were no antipsychotic medications, no neurosurgery, and Freud's first book on psychoanalysis, Die Traumdeutung, was published in 1900 in Austria.   In short, there were no effective treatments in the 1800s for mental illnesses. If patients in New Hampshire were being "cured" or "treated and released" in the 1800s, then those patients may have been suffering from what are now called personality disorders — or temporary emotional disorders (e.g., grief over death of a friend or relative, rejected by a lover, etc.) that would have cured themselves — instead of major mental illnesses (e.g., schizophrenia). Before psychoactive drugs were available, the only "treatment" for delusions and other symptoms of major mental illnesses was to lock the patient in an insane asylum.

Psychoactive drugs were first prescribed in the 1950s and 1960s: If a patient takes appropriate drugs regularly, they may be able to live in the normal community, instead of being confined to a psychiatric institution.   Again, it was the development of psychoactive drugs in the 1950s and 1960s that allowed patients with serious mental illnesses to be released from insane asylums.

The official state history describes the "treatment" of patients at the State Hospital in the 1800s consisted of work on the 120-acre farm on the hospital campus:
This extensive space allowed the Hospital to include a farm and to be self-sufficient. The pleasant, natural environment, in which the patients could live and work, was considered highly therapeutic.
Official history of the New Hampshire State Hospital, at page 1 of 15. <visited 18 Oct 2010>
While such farm work was more pleasant than the surgical sterilizations, lobotomies, and electro-shock therapy during the 1900s, it is unlikely that farm work cured any patient who was seriously mentally ill.

need for a surgical building

The official history mentions that the Thayer Building, constructed in 1907, was used as a medical-surgical building. The official history also mentions that the largest inmate population was only 2,750 people (reached in the year 1953, just as psychoactive drugs were becoming available). These two facts raise the question: Why did a "town" of less than 2750 people need a separate building devoted to surgery? Why not simply transport patients to the Pillsbury Hospital, a few miles away in Concord, NH?   Moreover, a new surgical building was constructed at the State Hospital in the year 1941, with three operating rooms.

The official history does not explain why there was a need for on-site surgery at the State Hospital.

Elsewhere, one can learn about surgical sterilizations that were performed as part of the eugenics movement at the New Hampshire State Hospital in the early 1900s.   There may also have been experiments with neurosurgery, such as lobotomies.   Performing such surgeries on site at the State Hospital meant that these operations could avoid any scrutiny by the local medical community.   Furthermore, patients who died after botched operations at the State Hospital could be buried at the State Hospital Cemetery and forgotten.

this document is at
first posted 7 Nov 2010, revised 1 Dec 2010

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