Belchertown selectmen want the town and MassDevelopment to help develop former Belchertown State School land

From The Republican
By John Appleton
Monday, March 29, 2010

The Board of Selectmen is supporting plans to link the town with its Economic Development Industrial Corp. and the quasi-public agency MassDevelopment in working jointly on demolition and decontamination at the former Belchertown State School campus.

“I see this as a positive move forward,” Selectmen Chairman James A. Barry said Monday.

The town’s economic development corporation has been working for several years to attract commercial development to the former state school grounds.


  1. This is one of the best websites to grasp the full importance of this history.

    I add my comment to this topic article on Belchertown’s site since it is very important that Belchertown NOT destroy its equity in its Historic beautiful buildings like Northampton did.

    It is ironic how the destruction of a mental hospital that clearly had a proven positive potential, was not recognized by the power that destroyed it. It was ignored and then actively obstructed by the human metal defect that can come from “group think” as it was inspired from and than lead by our city hall which saw only valuable land sitting under scary buildings.

    We hope Belchertown will be more aware and wise by reusing its great potential in standing buildings at their Hospital site. If they do not then they too will create a negative impact and diminish their future potential for all mankind forever. They too will loose all the benefits from the full time positive mental affects of great architecture on our minds all the way to the intermittent affects from world tourism seeking out the world’s great historic built environments.

    The very positive economic affects great architecture creates are the reward and lack of reward this ignorance or awareness will dictate.

    Northampton was mandated to reuse and preserve its hospital’s architectural equity, but ignorance in power,, a problem throughout human history,, looked the other way due to a narrow mindedness of focus only on the last phase of its history. Thus they ignorantly condemned all of the greatness of the 1st phase’s hope to solve better understanding to serve human mental health.

    This ship of western mass fools dragged along a lot of better mentally equipped passengers in a mob that preferred to follow than struggle with comprehension. They did this at the beginning of the next frontier in human existence, the exploration into a better understanding of the human mind.

    Architecture can be designed and built to be great but fools can continually destroy it in ignorance. Belchertown, don’t try not to be as ignorant as your western neighbor.

    Tristram W. Metcalfe lll, Reg. Archt.
    MA Reg #5393

  2. The enemy of asylum preservation is more than ignorance, it is humanity’s habitual need to turn away from ugly things. There is a quiet ease in ignoring mistakes, just as the will of self righteousness always reinforces such denial.

    Thus the destruction of Northampton State Hospital is forever bound in a myriad of tepid excuses, none of which I need remind you of I’m sure. Beyond and behind that clever willful ignorance is a silent accomplice called injustice.

    Of the former staff and residents of Northampton State Hospital I have had the privilege to meet I have found few regrets that the asylum was demolished. Even knowing that many were simply left on the streets does not change in any way the depth of agony and torment the State Hospital had come to mean. If the architecture had been saved there was little guarantee that Old Main could be turned into as powerful an ally in changing mental health care as much as it had once been its nightmare.

    The architecture is only the body of any asylum. To save it, to truly save it and not simply use it as a mask for the sake of money like Danvers or for the sake of convenience like Pilgrim one would have to find the soul of the place and see with honest eyes from beginning to end how it had gone so wrong. Truth is the only way the burden of shame can be lifted. Any asylum cannot merely be an icon, a sign, a reference or a footnote in our day to day lives. The lessons this history teaches must become part of how we live to make certain that we find ways to do better… much better.

    If Belchertown is to be saved than someone will need to choose to facilitate many voices and stories so as to prevent the buildings from being swept away in a tide of denial. To focus on the architecture alone would greatly lessen the significance of what Belchertown had and could mean. The art of resurrection can be lengthy and exhausting, so sooner would be better.

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