photographs, text, and compilation of links are Copyright 2010 by Ronald B. Standler
New Hampshire State Hospital
This website, www.rbs0.com , 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
- Main Building
- Bancroft Building
- State Hospital Cemetery (also called:
"Clinton Street Cemetery", or "Meadow Cemetery")
- Links and Bibliography
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.
- Anne Rhodes, died 6 May 1943.
- Frank Sleeper, died 8 Feb 1941.
- Orrin Dickey, died 28 May 1942.
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").
history of this hospital (revised 10 July 2000),
including photographs of eleven buildings for patients.
<visited 18 Oct 2010>
taken in Sep 2007 by Richard Osborne. Photographs take time to download.
Projects.org, five old black&white photographs;
maps from years 1893, 1906, and 1928.
58 photographs, but unlabeled and undated.
includes five photographs of the interior of abandoned buildings.
- undated old
postcards with images of the State Hospital.
- 29 Oct 2009 NH Public Radio program
with photographer Christopher Payne.
- Biography for Janet Small,
the final director of the nursing school.
- Annual Reports of the New Hampshire State Hospital, pp. 121-126,
(Nov 1902), available at Google Books.
has 11 photographs by Alice & Franklyn Vosburg, including the
bench for visitors and photographs of 8 headstones in Meadow Cemetery.
This webpage is the only webpage that mentions "Meadow Cemetery"
that I could find on the Internet in November 2010.
- Concord Monitor newspaper article (24 Sep 2003) on cemetery restoration
project, says "the hospital staff has buried around 1,600 people,
many of them in two cemeteries up the road from the hospital campus."
The last burial was in 1999.
This article calls the cemeteries by their old name: "Clinton Street cemeteries".
Searching for "Meadow Cemetery" will not find this article.
Monitor newspaper article (4 Dec 2008) identifies the cemetery
on the south side of Clinton Street as the original State Hospital Cemetery.
According to the Monitor, when the State Hospital
"ran out of land" in the original cemetery, a second cemetery was begun
on the north side of Clinton Street. The second cemetery is adjacent to the White Farm.
The existence of a second cemetery surprises me,
because there appears to be plenty of vacant space in the original cemetery.
The photographs and information in my webpage here
are only about the original cemetery on the south side of Clinton Street.
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
- Harry C. Sharp, "Vasectomy As a Means of Preventing Procreation in Defectives,"
Journal of the American Medical Association,
Vol. 53, pp. 1897-1902 (4 Dec 1909).
(This foul paper comes from the Indiana State Reformatory.
It is the first publication of involuntary sterilization of 456 "defectives"
from the year 1899 to 1909.
Sharp's publication is often cited by advocates for sterilization in other states,
including New Hampshire, without recognizing that Sharp had probably committed
- Simon Stone, "Miller Delusion: A Comparative Study in Mass Psychology,"
American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 91, pp. 593-623 (Nov 1934).
- Simon Stone, "Sexual Sterilization in New Hampshire,"
New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 215, pp. 536-546 (17 Sep 1936).
(A total of 155 patients were sterilized at the NH State Hospital during
the years 1916-1935, of whom 86% were women.
Simon Stone in New Hampshire recognized that Sharp's original work
with vasectomy was "performed surreptitiously" (Simon Stone's words),
before sterilization was legal in Indiana.)
- Simon N. Stone, "Psychiatry in New Hampshire — The First Hundred Years,"
New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 228, pp. 595-605 (13 May 1943).
- John D. Moriarty and Andre A. Weil, "Combined Convulsive Therapy
And Psychotherapy Of The Neuroses,"
Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, Vol. 50, pp. 685-690. (1943).
- Simon Stone, "Electroshock Therapy in Depressive States —
Experience in a General Hospital,"
New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 240, pp. 203-207 (10 Feb 1949).
- edited by Ronald L. Numbers, Jonathan M. Butler, The The Disappointed:
Millerism and Millenarianism in the Nineteenth Century, 249 pp.
University of Tennessee Press (1993).
Available at Google Books.
(History of one religious delusion that resulted in a large number of admissions
to insane asylumns during approximately 1840-1855. New Hampshire is mentioned
on pages 96, 99, 104-105, and 113-115. One interpretation is that
insane asylumns in the 1800s were admitting patients who now would not
be considered mentally ill.)
Comment on Official History
no effective treatment in the 1800s
The official state history says:
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.
- 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>
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.
- chlorpromazine (Thorazine ® ) in 1953
- trifluoperazine (Stelazine ® ) in 1959, discontinued in 2003
- thioridazine (Mellaril ® ) in 1962
- haloperidol (Haldol ® ) FDA approved in 1967
- the benzodiazepines, for anxiety:
- chlordiazepoxide (Librium ® ) in 1960
- diazepam (Valium ® ) in 1963
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:
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.
- 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>
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
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 http://www.rbs0.com/nhsh.htm
first posted 7 Nov 2010, revised 1 Dec 2010
return to my homepage