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2007 Danvers State Hospital Chronicles

2008-11 | 07 | 06 | 05 | 04 | 03 | 90's | 80's| 70's | 60's| 50's

12-7-07 Body found in DSH field identified.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has identified the body of the man found in a Danvers field on Oct. 9, 2007, as that of Jose Rivera, 54, whose last known address was 141 May Street in Lawrence. The identification was made through skeletal x-rays by Dr. Ann Marie Mires and Dr. Kimberly Springer.

Rivera's body was found in a farmer¹s field off Route 62 on the grounds of the former Danvers State Hospital. Rivera had gone to CAB Health & Recovery Services near where his body was found on Aug. 11, and had left the facility the next day.

Foul play is not suspected in his death.

Investigators are still trying to locate Rivera¹s next of kin. Anyone with information is asked to contact Danvers police Detective Sgt. William Carleton at 978-774-1388, ext. 3, or State Police assigned to the Office of Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett at 978-745-8908.

10-30-07 Body in field not identified yet Cathryn O’Hare. Danvers Herald

The body found in a field at the former Danvers State Hospital on Oct. 9 has not yet been positively identified.

“We believe we know who it is,” said Steve O’Connell, spokesman for the Essex County District Attorney’s office. The only official word at this point, however, is that it was an adult male.

Middleton farmer Paul Richardson of Richardson’s Dairy rents the state-owned field at the former hospital site, some 400-plus acres of which 77 were sold to Avalon Bay Communities for a rental and condominium development. The farmer and his employee were surveying the field when they found the badly decomposed body.

The state medical examiner will use dental records or DNA, said O’Connell, to make a positive identification. The authorities also need to locate and inform next of kin.

“We have no reason to expect foul play,” O’Connell said.

10-8-07 Body found in field Cathryn O'Hare and Brendan Lewis Danvers Herald

A Middleton farmer found a decomposing body Tuesday afternoon on the state owned field he farms across the line in Danvers at the former Danvers State Hospital.

Paul Richardson, of Richardson’s Dairy in Middleton, said he and an employee had been on a tractor surveying the field for fall planting when they spotted what appeared to be a dead body.

“It was a pretty well decomposed body,” Richardson said Wednesday morning. He speculated that it might have been a child, judging by the shoe size.

Richardson called Danvers police, who dispatched Officer Ashley Berube at about 2:30 p.m. She immediately secured the scene, said Sgt. Robert Bettencourt. Danvers Detective William Carlton and Sgt. Timothy Zuch also responded.

State Police were called, as they are for any unattended death, said Karen Dawley of the Essex County District Attorney’s Office. The state police spent about two or three hours before removing the body to the state medical examiner’s office in Boston, she said.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine cause of death, whether there was any foul play and, possibly, who the person was.

7-8-07 Central tower reconstructed.

If there's anything positive to come out of the demolition of DSH, I suppose the reconstruction of the upper portion of the original central tower is one. It's not an exact replica but a good attempt and it's better than not having anything up there at all. The sides were rebuilt a couple of weeks ago and the roof was added on Friday July 6th. Pictures located here.

6-15-07 Website update.

After almost two years, I finally updated the website. Pages 5 and 6 to Preston's interview are finally completed and the picture galleries have been updated along with a new gallery of vintage DSH photographs and postcards.

4-9-07 Massive 4-alarm fire to nascent apartments still under investigation. Amanda McGregor. Salem News.

As Danvers firefighters squelched persistent embers in the rubble at the Danvers State Hospital site, the company developing the property said yesterday it is determined to rebuild as soon as the smoke clears. The Easter Eve fire destroyed three unfinished apartment buildings atop Hathorne Hill, where AvalonBay developers are replacing the storied state mental hospital with a sweeping development of 433 apartments and 64 condominiums.

“Absolutely,” said Scott Dale when asked if the developers would rebuild. Dale, vice president of AvalonBay, was reached at his home on Easter morning. “Once the area of the fire has been released back to us — subsequent to the insurance company and the fire department investigation — we will start reconstruction,” Dale said.

For the town, it was the second major blaze on the eve of a holiday in less than six months. On the day before Thanksgiving, a Danversport chemical plan exploded in the middle of the night into a ball of flames, displacing an entire neighborhood. Residents there are still grappling with the disaster.

“It’s unusual we had two big events in six months,” said Capt. Frank Sacco, a 20-year veteran of the fire department. “In this line of business, things sometimes happen in cycles.”Remarkably, no one was killed during the explosion, or during last weekend’s fire. “We were lucky it was unoccupied structures under construction, and that no one was there,” Sacco said of Saturday’s early-morning blaze. The smoke from the fire was so heavy that State Police had to close Route 1 and Interstate 95.

The fire is still under investigation, and the blaze kept firefighters busy throughout the weekend. Danvers Fire Chief James Tutko likened the fresh construction, which didn’t yet have sprinklers, to a lumberyard. Fire crews are expected to be stationed there until this afternoon. “There is a lot of masonry there, and bricks and concrete hold heat for a long time,” Sacco said yesterday afternoon. “There are so many hot spots still.”

The three incinerated buildings were to house 147 apartments, but all that remained were the concrete towers of stairwells and elevator shafts. Dale said the buildings were in various stages of development — at most 60 to 70 percent complete — and would have opened in June or July. No specific tenants were slated to move in, Dale said. The fire also destroyed three or four garages and utility buildings. “I guess the only silver lining here is that nobody was injured seriously,” said Dale. “The Danvers Fire Department did an excellent job in responding to the fire and protecting some adjacent buildings.” The flames spared the hospital’s historic Kirkbride Building except for one charred cupola, which caught fire because of heat radiating from the other buildings. Firefighters from eight communities responded to the four-alarm blaze. The looming, spired facade of the 130-year-old Kirkbride building can be spotted from around the area, and what remains of it is being refurbished to accommodate apartments.

The looming, spired facade of the 130-year-old Kirkbride building can be spotted from around the area, and what remains of it is being refurbished to accommodate apartments. The development of the 77-acre site is still in the early stages. The first apartments opened earlier this year, with 48 occupied so far. The development will eventually consist of 433 luxury apartments and 64 condominiums on the old hospital grounds off Route 62. The site of the fire was fenced off yesterday, and residents living in the new apartments on the occupied side of the AvalonBay development were back in their homes. They had been evacuated to Danvers High School early Saturday morning. Dale said that in his experience, such fires are uncommon.

“It’s a very rare occurrence, actually,” said Dale. “We take measures to prevent this type of thing.”

Marblehead Highlands, a condominium complex in Marblehead, met a similar fate in November 2005 when a Saturday-morning blaze burned the four-story, 21-unit building to the ground, just a month before residents were slated to move in. And a one-alarm fire last month caused $1 million in damage to the newly constructed Highlands at Dearborn apartment complex in Peabody overlooking Route 128. Dale said AvalonBay will investigate its safety practices. “We’re conducting our own internal audit to determine what, if anything, we could have done on our end to prevent this,” said Dale.

4-7-07 Four-alarm fire ravages former state mental hospital By Allison Mudge, Boston Globe.

A four-alarm fire at the former Danvers State Hospital destroyed seven buildings and shut Route 1 down temporarily early this morning.The buildings, currently undergoing renovations, were empty. The facility is being renovated into apartment buildings and condominiums. State police also briefly evacuated 20 people living in neighboring, already-completed buildings as a precaution. Six firefighters were treated for minor injuries. The fire, which began around 2 a.m., took several hours to bring under control. AvalonBay Communities Inc. is handling the renovations. The plan is to build 433 luxury rental units and 64 condominiums on the site's 77 acres, the Globe reported in February. The project is also to include amenities like an indoor sports court and a cyber cafe, a far cry from the building's dreary past. The hospital, abandoned since 1992 in response to accusations of overcrowding, abuse, and neglect, was primarily used to treat "spiritual maladies."

After being closed, the hospital quickly became a hot spot for thrill-seeking ghost hunters who believed the grounds to be filled with troubled spirits. The high level of curiosity and trespassing forced to the state to employ 24-hour security guards for a time. The 2001 film "Session 9," about an asbestos cleaning crew working in an abandoned mental hospital with a suspect past, was filmed at Danvers State and also brought attention to the facility. Danvers State is not the only former mental institution undergoing a facelift. There's a growing trend toward renovation of the facilities abandoned since the 1980s, when mental health care was de-institutionalized.

Click here for video footage of the fire. Note you need to use IE to watch it.






2008-11 | 07 | 06 | 05 | 04 | 03 | 90's | 80's| 70's | 60's| 50's