Metropolitan State Hospital/Gaebler Children’s Center, Waltham, Massachusetts

Home  /  All  /  Current Page

220px-Gaebler_Children's_Center_Exterior_PhotoBy the beginning of the twentieth century, Boston was in need of an additional state hospital. Resources were finally available more than two decades later, and by 1930, Metropolitan State Hospital in Waltham, Massachusetts opened.

With its first cornerstone laid down in 1927, Metropolitan State Hospital existed on an enormous campus spanning across three towns — Waltham, Lexington, and Belmont.

Built in the Colonial style tradition, Metropolitan’s campus consisted of an administration building, medical-surgical facility, acute and chronic care buildings, staff housing, morgue, and power plant.

metro_aerial_northThe largest facility was the chronic care building, referred to as the continued treatment group.  This facility was constructed as a basic rectangle, including protruding wings on the outer edges and an outdoor courtyard within.

In response to the need to separate children’s care from the adult population at state psychiatric hospitals, the Gaebler Children’s Center was opened on October 8, 1955, on property adjacent to the main facility. The Gaebler Children’s Hospital, named after Metropolitan State Hospital’s second superintendent, was a 160 bed psychiatric unit designed to treat seriously disturbed children (under the age of 16).

Citing the reason as its desire to place children in community-based programs, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health closed the children’s hospital on January 31, 1992. At the time, some believe the children’s facility was closed because it was antiquated and could no longer serve the needs its patients. Others felt the center was closed due to budget cuts.

metropolitan_state_hospitalMetropolitan State Hospital was not just famous for its children’s facility, but also due to a patient named Melvin Wilson. In 1978, Wilson murdered co-patient Anne Marie Davee, dismembered her body, and buried her in several shallow graves on the hospital’s campus. Wilson did keep, however, seven of his victim’s teeth.

The teeth, as well as pieces of Wilson’s clothing and the presumed murder weapon (a hatchet), were found two months after Davee had disappeared. Two years later, Wilson led investigators to the graves.

The main hospital also closed in January 1992, leaving behind a maze of rotting wards and tunnels. A cemetery exists on the hospital campus, containing 480 anonymous markers, and possibly others now beneath the earth’s surface. The area to the west of the campus has been developed into apartment housing. The extensive wooded area is open to the public.

Photographs from Opacity &

  • metro_aerial_north
  • metropolitan_state_hospital
  • 220px-Gaebler_Children's_Center_Exterior_Photo

Posted: October 9, 2014


Category: All, Lost Hospitals, Massachusetts


Leave a Reply