Goodbye, Danvers State Hospital

There are some places that deserve to be torn down because their walls have seen too much suffering. Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts is certainly one of them. Don’t let the name fool you- this was not a normal hospital. It was a “mental asylum”. It was opened in 1878, so you can imagine exactly what kind of asylum it was too. The place is rumoured to be where the practice of lobotomy started.

Danver State Hospital

So, I’m rather glad this place is not around to sully the reputation or the beauty of New England any more. However, I wish I had one opportunity to see the place with my own eyes. After all, it’s the perfect haunted mansion. It has been featured in a number of horror films even. It was also a perfect spot for urban exploration- and it would have been a million dollar experience (after all, it would have been the creepiest place I would have set foot in).

Creepy interiors of Danver State

Danvers State Hospital was actually the indirect inspiration for the famous Arkham Asylum that keeps turning up in the Batman universe. It was actually the direct inspiration for H.P. Lovecraft’s Arkham sanatorium in the short story “The Thing on the Doorstep”, which is where DC drew it’s inspiration for Arkham from.

Inspiration for Arkham

The existence of Danvers State Hospital is sort of a reality check for me- such ugliness can and did exist in the middle of New England, which is certainly one of my favourite places in the world. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

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Along the seaside

fish

“Call me Ismael”! This is Moby Dick’s famous opening line from Herman Melville’s long story on the fishing industry commencing out of the island of Nantucket, one of New England’s last almost uncharted islands. Almost completely undeveloped, Nantucket to this day offers similar sights and scenes that the main characters of Moby Dick might have witnessed before endeavoring upon the deep ocean to hunt whales. Bars, seafood restaurants, wooden houses and a lot of woods. That’s what I would say characterizes a majority of this island scenery.

The fishing and whaling industry lines the entire coast of New England. Starting in Connecticut, it reaches all the way up until the border with Canada in Maine. Pockets of industry hubs, such as town in Cape Cod, or Bar Harbor, Maine, line the whole coastline and lay insight into what a lifestyle might have consisted of. Most towns even have the old houses of ship captains which always had a “widows walk”, or mostly a large terrace covered up on which the wives of ship captains could see all ships coming into the harbour at any time, waiting to see their husbands ship approach.

Local fishing blog!

Along with that, there are always beautiful harbors filled with fishing and recreational boats. Not to mention the unending seafood options. That was always my favorite part. The creamy New England Clam Chowder filled with seafood, or even a lobster bisque. The area is well known for both oysters and lobsters, so if that’s what you’re interested in, you’ll find a piece of heaven up there.

Beyond the fishing industry, there are even museums or sites from the founding of America, such as plymouth rock in Massachusetts where some of the first settlers landed.

The towns have mostly not changed and still offer every insight to an earlier lifestyle that you might look for in your travels. I certainly found what I was looking for!

Trick or treat?

It’s that time of year again, Halloween. In Australia, Halloween is a fun thing to do occasionally, but it doesn’t really have much merit, however as you would expect in America Halloween is taken seriously, and especially in New England – this is the home of the Salem Witches after all.

carved pumpkins are traditional at Halloween

My first experience of Halloween was when I was driving through a sleepy little town in New England one year, stopping for some lunch. As I sat in the window of the cafe, lines of schoolchildren dressed up in all manner of costumes where being paraded around town clutching little buckets in their hands. They were taken, in their lines, from one shop to another on some sort of trick or treat procession, each time they came out they would gather around showing off their treats. The whole town was spooked up, window displays, carved pumpkins, hanging skeletons. In my mind New England is one of the quintessential places to really enjoy Halloween, you’ve got this brilliant mix of medium sized towns surrounded by country side, which gives perfect opportunity for Corn Mazes, Haunted Hayrides and, of course, pumpkins in abundance. So, if you want to give your children a real treat one year, head over in time for Halloween, do a tour of the best haunted towns!

See this website for New England Halloween tips