Belchertown State School

One of many dormitory style buildings on campus. White and devoid of character, they loom like ghosts on the grounds.
One of many dormitory style buildings on campus. White and devoid of character, they loom like ghosts on the grounds.

Buildings tell stories. Whether it be a tumultuous chronicle of violence and neglect, a glorious historical account, or strictly the love stories written in graffiti on the walls, the structures we leave to the elements become media in which narratives are told.

This photo essay is composed of shots from Belchertown State School, located in Belchertown, MA. Once a state school for the “feeble minded,” the building was official abandoned in 1992, then added to National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

We build them, we leave them, then the earth takes them back. It’s like a cycle of life, symbolically similar to our own, though in many cases longer lasting. And what we have before us is a sliver of their time, captured forever in the frame of a photograph, never to be viewed exactly the same again.

Graffiti is commonplace at the school. Artwork ranges from friendship ties such as this to swastikas and satanic references.
Graffiti is commonplace at the school. Artwork ranges from friendship ties such as this to swastikas and satanic references.
Much of the buildings has been demolished by time and vandals.
Much of the buildings has been demolished by time and vandals.
Many people walk around on campus, as it's open to the public. It attracts photographers due to it's creepy and photogenic nature.
Many people walk around on campus, as it’s open to the public. It attracts photographers due to it’s creepy and photogenic nature.
The buildings have numerous nooks and crannies to explore.
The buildings have numerous nooks and crannies to explore.
Buildings with covered windows litter the campus, but many of their doors have been pried open, allowing easy access for visitors.
Buildings with covered windows litter the campus, but many of their doors have been pried open, allowing easy access for visitors.
Some more daring photographers enter the buildings, searching for original and unique picture ideas.
Some more daring photographers enter the buildings, searching for original and unique picture ideas.
Some people have gone through great trouble to access the buildings. This door was literally bent in half.
Some people have gone through great trouble to access the buildings. This door was literally bent in half.
Many of the chairs in the theatre are still intact, and the whole building itself is incredibly photogenic.
Many of the chairs in the theatre are still intact, and the whole building itself is incredibly photogenic.
Buildings on campus have seen better days. Vandals and nature have had their ways, and the structures are slowly returning back to the ground.
Buildings on campus have seen better days. Vandals and nature have had their ways, and the structures are slowly returning back to the ground.
Both uncovered and intact, this window is a rarity at the school. Almost anything that can be broken has been broken.
Both uncovered and intact, this window is a rarity at the school. Almost anything that can be broken has been broken.
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dan Nott says:

    Beautiful pictures from a little piece of forgotten Western Massachusetts history!

  2. Nice pictures, The theater looks much nicer then when I saw it. There are far less seats left now.

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