Kirkbride Buildings Blog

January 7th, 2010

Worcester State Hospital Architect

Worcester State Hospital
Even though I’ve read in several sources that Ward P. Delano designed the Worcester State Hospital Kirkbride, today I learned that is untrue. The actual architect was George Dutton Rand. You can read all about him in the third letter to the editor listed on this page at the Preservation Nation web site.

I just wanted to point that out since I’ve been spreading the Delano lie on this site for years. Even more embarrassingly, I also did so in a comment on the original Preservation Nation article which inspired that letter to the editor — although in my defense, the original article listed Thomas Kirkbride as the architect and I was trying to dispel the common misconception that Dr Kirkbride personally designed all these buildings himself.

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  1. WSH January 8, 2010, 10:55 am

    Interesting. I’m very cloudy on part of the history of Worcester State Hospital. Apparently at one time there was a smaller hospital. I’m not sure if this was on the same site, if it was demolished or just greatly expanded. I’m reading Grob’s history of Worcester State Hospital now with hopes that it will clear it up a little. I’ll share whatever I find. Ethan, I believe I’ve seen others list Delano as the architect too, so you’re not the only one!

  2. Ethan January 8, 2010, 12:42 pm

    Yes, the asylum in Worcester began many years before the Kirkbride was built on the current site of the hospital. It was definitely a smaller hospital then. When it got overcrowded, the state built the Kirkbride at a different site and moved many patients there. Some chronic patients were left at the old hospital which became an asylum for the “chronically insane”, whereas the new hospital was meant for patients who had a decent chance of recovery. I’m not sure when, but the chronic asylum was eventually closed and the building was demolished, some time in the 20th century I believe.

  3. WSH January 8, 2010, 3:37 pm

    I remember reading about the “chronic insane” location in Dr. Callaway’s book. I wasn’t clear that it was the original asylum building. Thanks, that sure clears up some of my unanswered questions.

  4. Richard Nickel Jr. January 14, 2010, 5:35 pm

    The original asylum building was built in (I believe) the 1830s; it was one of the first public asylums in America. Here’s a link to a plate which shows the original building:

  5. Kate February 15, 2011, 8:37 am

    Glad I found this information because I too want to dispel the Delano myth in the new edition of the book. I should just cite you as my only source in the book this time! :)

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