Inmate Crutches, State School Massachusetts by Lindsay Blair Brown

This Massachusetts State School is the oldest institution for the retarded in the country and has been running since its construction began in 1848.

While this campus is still in operation, it has a significantly decreased population from its earlier years. You could see the levels of abandonment this campus has gone through over time, starting with a few buildings and gradually branching out to a majority of the campus. While this is a rather simple subject, these crutches resonated with me. This particular building was a favorite of mine.

Exit, State School Massachusetts by Lindsay Blair Brown

“Watch the Gap” came to mind as I was framing this shot. The closer I moved the the exit, the less safer the ground became below me.


Other buildings housed piles of things from old video games to newspapers. It felt like walking into a time warp discovering old Nintendo 64 cartridges scattered across the floor. Some of the walls were covered in various newspaper clippings. The varying colors of them, along with stickers, were telling to their age. I remember how I used to love putting all kinds of stickers on my bedroom wall. My parents didn’t appreciate it nearly as much.


Wall Decorations, State School Massachusetts by Lindsay Blair Brown

What people choose to paste on their walls for years to come amazes me. One of the contributors must have been an avid Rolling Stones fan.


There was little remanence of classrooms in the buildings I documented. Here and there you would find the remainder of a desktop or some chairs. They were probably removed for reuse in other buildings on campus or moved outside campus entirely.


Abandoned Classroom, State School Massachusetts by Lindsay Blair Brown

What was left of a classroom. The bright blue paint was amazing, every classroom I can remember was always a boring white.

You can view more photos of the Walter E. Fernald State School here and learn more at the follow sites:

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jenny edwards March 12, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Thanks for posting this. Interested in learning more about your work on this project. Is this still ongoing? Do you have more pictures of F ernald? Interested in creating a exhibit and book on work of this kind. Feel free to send me an email with contact info. Thanks.


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