The Northampton Historical Commission presents
Dedication of the Northampton State Hospital Burial Ground Bench
Saturday, October 21, 2017 | 11 am
Burial Ground Memorial Bench site
The walking path to the site starts at the parking lot off Burts Pit Road near the Community Gardens.
The Northampton Historical Commission is pleased to announce the dedication of a new memorial bench overlooking “Cemetery Hill,” used as a burial ground by Northampton State Hospital from 1858 until the 1920s. A bench and plantings have marked the site since 1959. Earlier this year, the Historical Commission oversaw the installation of a new stone bench (previous wooden benches had deteriorated over the years) by Mike McKenna of Southampton, MA (who donated the granite) and students and staff from Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, supervised by Tim Smith. The dedication will take place on Saturday, October 21, at 11:00 a.m. at the Burial Ground Memorial Bench site. The event is free and open to the public.
Memorial bench with oak trees, informational sign
and plaque on obelisk near bench.
Speakers will include:
- Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz
- Pat Goggins, whose father William J. Goggins, Jr., business manager at the State Hospital during Pat’s childhood, erected the first memorial bench on this site
- Rebecca Macaulay, a former NSH patient and employee and patients’ rights advocate
- Tom Riddell, professor emeritus at Smith College, where he taught “The Evolution and Transformation of the Northampton State Hospital,” a seminar for first-year students.
Funds from the Historical Commission were used for this project, but the Commission also received significant gifts from: Smith College, Historic Northampton, and Mass Humanities. As part of the dedication ceremony, the Northampton State Hospital Memorial Committee will announce progress on a memorial park which will be located elsewhere on the former hospital grounds.
This burial ground was the primary site for patients who died at Northampton State Hospital and who did not have family to claim them. There are 181 confirmed burials, in unmarked graves; records indicated that another 400 patients were buried here or at other sites in Northampton. The newly-installed stone bench is flanked by two young oak trees (symbols of strength and endurance), an obelisk with a brass plaque inscribed with words dedicated to those interred on the hillside, and an informational sign, the first of many planned as part of a Northampton State Hospital Walking Tour.