Westborough Historical Society presents scholarship
Westborough – The Westborough Historical Society (WHS) recently awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Westborough High School graduate Hannah Schur. Scholarship applicants are asked to write an essay about a personal memory that exemplifies Westborough. Schur wrote her winning essay about growing up near Westborough State Hospital. The essay will become part of a new collection of memories about life in Westborough to be made available to the public at WHS headquarters, Sibley House, 13 Parkman St. Schur plans to major in engineering at the University of Delaware this fall.
Here is Schur’s essay:
I live on Haskell Street and I have grown up alongside the Westborough State Hospital property. Now a place of major debate in town, I remember when the State Hospital was still active and when I walked the roads and the trails with my mom every afternoon after school. The entrance was bustling with traffic and not just with cars full of youth soccer players. Employees and residents walked the sidewalks toward Lyman Street. As we walked down the dirt path toward Lake Chauncy, we passed the building full of dirt and bricks.
Of great fascination to me, however, was the path labeled “No Trespassing”. My friends and I had numerous theories regarding the sign’s purpose. We believed the end of the trail was where bodies were cremated and if we came back at night, the path would be alive with ghosts.
Continuing around the perimeter of the lake, my mom and I encountered men catching the tiny fish from the lake at the ends of the peninsulas and dogs going for a casual paddle. The swimming area was full of hospital residents swimming to and from the dock. We passed the men playing basketball while we walked beneath the canopy of trees beside the soccer fields. Completing our loop, we read the names of the homes including “Genesis” and “New Horizon” and saw the men hanging out on the porches and railings.
While I did not fully understand all of the activity on the property, I found the place fascinating. Now, it appears to be dead. My mom and I still walk the property after school and are greeted by an overgrown entrance. Dark windows are shattered and boarded up and the entire property is gray. The forbidden path is covered in weeds and simply leads to a beautiful grassy opening overlooking the lake. The picnic tables on the peninsulas are empty and their paint is nonexistent. The shed full of supplies and the dock in the swimming area have been torn down and the vines make the lake unviewable through the fence. Men no longer play basketball outside. The homes of the men are empty and haunting over the street.
The Westborough State Hospital closed its doors only four years ago but has already undergone so much change. Growing up next to and watching the progression of such a historically rich part of Westborough has been amazing. I remember asking my mom what the names on the buildings meant and she explained each was a variant of the phrase “New Beginning.” The homes were opportunities for the men within them to begin their new lives.
Similar to the lives of the men, I would love to see the property transformed into something extraordinary for the town.
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