Norwood: The facility’s afterlife
By Kris Leonhardt
Up until 1974, the Galvin Avenue hospital facilities were a revenue generator for the county; however, after the Chestnut facilities were constructed and the patients were moved, the property transferred hands and slowly became neglected.
“There were three apartments in there,” said Chris Burt, owner of Marshfield Scrap. “They were in the new addition – there was a new addition that was put on there in the 1950s, maybe. They were pretty nice apartments, because they had fireplaces in them and things like that – in the one on the main level. There were three levels (and there was one apartment) in the basement, one on the first floor, and one on the second floor.
“The one in the basement was a little on the creepy side.”
When the property was converted to a salvage yard, the apartments were closed.
That was 1998, and a salvage and steel business began operating on the hospital property, while Burt was next door working as a fabricator. The two businesses eventually merged into what would later become known as Marshfield Scrap.
Though the hospital building was of solid construction, time had taken its toll on the historic building by the time Burt acquired ownership.
“The roof was gone by the time we got it, and it got a lot worse,” Burt explained. “If you look at the square footage to try to maintain that roof, it was crazy what it would have cost to try to fix that roof. It just got worse and worse, and pretty soon you have water damage here and water damage there.”
In addition, Burt said the building had become a liability with curiosity seekers, treasure hunters, and individuals looking for a place to go.
“There were people breaking in there all of the time…if you got up on the roof after a snow storm… the next day, it looked like there was a track meet up there. We detained, complained about, or had people cited for breaking and entering; it was over 100 people,” he said.
“Someone was going to end up getting hurt pretty bad.”
So Burt started the slow process of removing the hospital building.
“We finished demolition on the building in 2005, we began the demolition in 2003 and finished in 2005,”recalled Burt,” with the full grade work being completed in 2006.”
Little is left of the facilities, but one barn sitting on the east side of Galvin Avenue. Burt said that parts of the underground tunnel that connected the property structures still remain, but nothing that can visibly be seen today.
“Parts of it are still here, but for the most part it is has been blocked off and sealed off,” Burt said. “There is still a little bit there, but segments were filled in and capped off, so it is not accessible. There are still a few sections that aren’t broken in yet, it is still holding water, but it is completely inaccessible.”
What about the rumors of haunting? One conversation with the staff at Marshfield Scrap will definitely leave you scratching your head.
“During the demolition phase, and even before that, you could go in the building and you would be taking pictures with a nice sunny day outside – you could see very clearly inside the building – and when you took pictures, the pictures would come out all foggy,” said Burt.
For more, visit the Asylum History page at www.marshfieldscrap.com.