Sunday, April 25, 2010

Belchertown State School

Inspired as I was by a discussion about the now closed Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded (an institution not known for its humane treatment of people), I decided to take a trip over to Belchertown today to see the campus. I managed to get inside a few buildings (I only poked my head into the asbestos-ridden ones, and got into another one rather sneakily). It was kind of thrilling to be on the wrong side of the law. On the other hand, I was really nervous the whole time I was inside--I guess because I was alone, and I wasn't sure who might be squatting there. Anyway, here are some pictures:

Stairs inside an administrative or educational building

Moody indoor shot

Don't go in--asbestos!

While I was there, I ran into a woman who worked there in the 70s, who was walking with her daughter (the daughter was working on a photo project). She told me a little about her experiences there, and what she remembered/didn't remember. So it seemed to me that at least some people treat it like a ruin, or a memory site. Because the expenditure would be too great to do asbestos remediation on the buildings for adaptive reuse--and probably an equal expenditure would have to be made just to tear the buildings down--the place just sits. And I kind of like it that way. Nothing too horrible can happen there, I think, given that it's right next to the police station. Though obviously they don't patrol the area, because I was able to get into the buildings without being caught. But most of the people there during the daytime were quiet and reverent. I guess I wouldn't like to be there at night, when apparently the skinheads come to write graffiti.

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