The Theft of Memory

From The Valley Advocate
By Mark Roessler
Thursday, October 30, 2008

In spite of contractual and moral obligation, there may be no memorial to the mentally ill on the prime land that was their legacy from the state.

Part of the Citizens Advisory Committee’s stated mission in redeveloping Hospital Hill has been to provide a memorial commemorating the Northampton State Hospital and its 150-year history on the site. To this end a subcommittee was formed, and in May, 2007, it issued a report recommending that the hospital’s original fountain be refurbished and returned to where it once stood outside the hospital. Members hoped the memorial would be set in a secluded space that would allow quiet contemplation.

Last Monday, Oct. 20, the subcommittee reconvened for the first time since its report to decide on the seven location options developers had offered them for the memorial.

Despite the subcommittee’s recommendation, a private home is already under construction on the fountain’s original site, and the only option MassDevelopment offered that resembled what had been requested was in a narrow pathway between two other houses. Another option was right on Route 66, a location the subcommittee had already said was not appropriate. Four more possibilities were at major intersections, near playgrounds or too close to houses.

The subcommittee ultimately chose a site for the memorial on the opposite edge of the campus.

Story Continues…

Leave a Reply