Trivia

Hard

The Real World Hospital That Inspired Fictional Arkham Asylum Was Located In?

Manchester, England
Essen, Germany
Rochester, New York
Danvers, Massachusetts
An old photograph of the imposing Victorian style grounds of the Danvers State Hospital.
Public Domain/Wikimedia

Answer: Danvers, Massachusetts

Fans of both H.P. Lovecraft and the Batman universe can trace the roots of Arkham Asylum all the way back to a small rural community in 19th century Massachusetts where the inspiration for the terrifying fictional hospital stood made of real brick and mortar for over a century.

The Danvers State Hospital was a massive multi-acre psychiatric complex built in Danvers, Massachusetts in the late 19th century. Construction started in 1874, was completed in 1878, and it was opened that same year. The sprawling campus and main building were designed by famed architect Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee based on the principles of the Kirkbride Plan. The Kirkbride Plan was a design concept championed by psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbride with the best of intentions: his design plans focused on building mental asylums that had long and meandering wings with plenty of small private rooms, ample sunlight, and very little direct views from one patient’s room to another. The emphasis in his design was to provide private and removed spaces for patients to recover in without being packed in with other patients, removed from natural light and airflow, or otherwise made to feel constrained or caged.

Although the design was revolutionary at the time (as previously the mentally ill had been housed in all manner of subpar conditions like county jails and even the basements of public buildings), it proved to be very costly to maintain since the buildings were very ornate and very expansive. They also, inadvertently, set the stage for the kind of spooky mental-asylum trope that is firmly embedded in our culture today. The long rambling hallways, the prolific number of rooms, and the sense that one could get lost in the giant labyrinthian buildings was very unsettling to visitors.

In that regard, the Danvers State Hospital was especially labyrinthian as all the outbuildings and sub-basements of the buildings were connected by dozens of winding tunnels. Essentially, the hospital couldn’t become more of a horror movie set if someone had designed it to be such. The structure was so sprawling and so imposing that it served as inspiration for H.P Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanatorium (featured in his short story “The Thing on the Doorstep”). In turn, Lovecraft’s story was the inspiration for the Arkham Asylum in the Batman comic universe.

If you’re a fan bent on exploring the now-defunct complex, you’re in for a disappointment. The vast majority of the complex was demolished in the mid-2000s with only a small shell of the primary building preserved for historical purposes. The remaining land was developed into a series of apartment complexes, four of which burned down in a large fire visible from Boston, nearly 17 miles (27 kilometers) away in 2007. The cause of the fire was never determined and the development company behind the apartment complexes sold the land in early 2014.

Trivia

Very Hard

Which Of These Performers Has An Album Cover Created With A Game Boy?

Trivia

Easy

In Britain, Tradition States That Women Can Only Propose Marriage During?

Trivia

Easy

Which Of These North American Mammals Has A Sophisticated Language System?

Trivia

Hard

The Division Symbol Is Formally Known As The?

Trivia

Hard

The Real-Life Inspiration For The Super Friends’ Hall Of Justice Is Located In?

Trivia

Hard

The First U.S. National Park Was?

Trivia

Hard

What Ubiquitous Insects Are Actually Crustaceans?

Trivia

Hard

What Gas Has The Opposite Effect Of Helium On Your Voice?

Trivia

Easy

Which Party Game Got Off The Ground Thanks To A Tonight Show Appearance?

Trivia

Easy

What Common Thing Was Known As “Devil’s Rope” Shortly After It Was First Created?