Thanks so much for the great response to this blog!
A special thank you to those who have passed it on to others. We are heading quickly to amazing page visits to this blog! Welcome to folks from all over the country and other countries as well, including Lisbon!!

The "Village", as it was called, is located in the northwest corner of the city of Taunton, Massachusetts U.S.A. It covers about 1 square mile with the center being School Street. A large portion of the Village population was Portuguese when I was growing up.

This blog covers a lot of the history of the Village, much to do with my years as a child there: 1940 through the late 1950's. I do have many wonderful photos and information prior to that that and will share those as well. Always looking for MORE PHOTOS AND MORE STORIES TO TELL.

If you would like to send photos or share a memory of growing up in the Village
e-mail me at
feel free to comment on the posts. Directions are on the right side of the blog posts. Jump in, the water is fine and it is easy!!!

I will be posting photographs but not identifying individuals unless I have permission or they are a matter of public record. It you wish to give me permission, please let me know.

I am looking for any and all photos of the Village...

Please note: the way blogs work is that the latest post is first. It you would like to start from the beginning of the blog, check out the post labels on the right of the blog and go from there. Thanks.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


This blog owes so much to our revered storytellers.  To those who kept. and still keep, our roots and memories alive.  Every time we dip into the stories of our past we ensure once more that they keep going forward for our children and their children.

So, let's hear it for storytellers…shall we?

Just remembering stories in my own life:

Once we had a home with a partially opened staircase going up to the second floor.  We had amassed many family photos, old and new, and displayed them all down the wall section of the stairs. The stairs were comfortably carpeted. Adults and children could be found there looking at the photographs and asking for the stories that went with them.  

Every time we walked up those stairs we could touch the photos and remember.
I miss those stairs and that memory gallery. It was in reality a storyboard .

I live in a smaller home now.  There is a short hall outside the studio where two large collaged framed pieces tell my story and my husband's story. Every day when I pass them, especialy early in the morning as I start my day, I remember those loved faces…known and unknown.  Unlike an album or digital disc it is always there, speaking tour hearts. 

Who does not love listening to a story? We never outgrow that sense of delight.

Pinterest photo from 1920

My husband and oldest grandson taken back in the 90's sharing a story.

  A child in the womb gets used to its mother's voice as early as 30 weeks:
her inflections, her emotional tones.  Later, as soon as a child can scoot 
into your lap, cuddle close under your arm and come close to to your heart, 
storytelling becomesa ritual carried out over and over and over.
Another of our grandson's created a ritual of his own, carefully thinking over 
which book would be read that bedtime and solemnly presenting it .  
We embraced the ritual each time we had the honor to preside.
This is he being read to by my mother
 (note the under the arm and close to the heart position).

Storytelling teaches but most importantly, the person listening is the center of attention.
Listening to a favorite book being read a child will sail off to an imaginary land. But, also, the reader changes.  Do you recall reading to your children and grandchildren? You became animated, you laugh or tear up.  Reader and child read become enclosed
 in a cocoon that wakes up in a new place just waiting to be explored.

That is what it has been like for me writing this blog, and it appears for our many readers all over the world listening to the story of the School Street Village. To go beyond my years growing up there to times that came before is such an experience that I often lose track of time.  
The tales weave themselves around our hearts, our very souls reconnecting us to
 generations long gone, or those just past.

Often that journey is facilitated by the voice of a very special historian.
It is my honor to introduce our


Storytellers and memory keepers are very special people.
In this post I wish to acknowledge the Village Storyteller and
 Memory Keeper extraordinaire:
Arlene Rose Gouveia.

I mention and thank her so often in this blog, that it is time
to introduce this remarkable woman.
Listening to her tell a story of the Village, or of greater Taunton, is a gift I wish for everyone.
She herself enjoys the telling which is the mark of a great storyteller. 
 She brings it all to life, and it is as if you were there.   

Many readers share with this blog, but Arlene I consider the lead contributor.

Arlene has storytelling in her DNA thanks to her parents: Joseph Rose and Mary Perry Rose
pictured above on their wedding day in 1929 at St. Anthony's (you may remember them from the posts on vintage Village weddings).

Joseph Rose told Village stories to his children.  
His daughter remembered them and wrote them down.
Her mother Mary Rose took photographs and more photographs
 The family had a sense of the history they were living and whence they came. 
They keep the flames lit in the hearts of their children,
especially their daughter Arlene
 who let them grow and remain safe.

In due time, their daughter wrote her stories down and created, in her own handwriting, memoirs her father and others of his time had shared with her. Then she in turn shared them, beautiful handwritten pages ascribing each story to its teller.

Growing up in the Village when it was at it's greatest, she became a teacher and taught for 50 years in Taunton schools as well as long years of tutoring at home.  Her students still speak of her enthusiasm for learning and love of history, how she inspired them to be the same way. How she  believed  who they could and would become and made them believe it, too. 

Arlene reached out with those memories and photographs in such projects as the book for
St. Anthony's Church Centennial Celebration in 2003 and Olde Tyme Taunton.

I knew Arlene when I was growing up on School Street.  I knew her parents. I never appreciated how precious they all were and are.  They are part of the Village legacy and have done it proud.

When I began this blog, it was, I believe, a calling. A calling  to keep this, our Village history, 
safe in a format that would reach out to as many as possible.  Once I began it took on a 
life all its own.It did reach out and eventually it reached out to Arlene Gouveia. 

 Arlene's desire to keep that same history safe and mine merged. 
A collaboration started and still continues.
  What I have learned and shared has been amazing! Hearing her 
 enthusiastically narrating these stories is an experience I treasure. 
We mentioned early in this post that a storyteller changes as the story is told.
That is so the case with Arlene Gouveia.  Arlene has learned the lesson of passionate living.

All the wonderful photographs of so long ago one day spilled from my inbox thanks to her son, John.  Each one sent me back to the Village.  I have made copies, digital and otherwise, 
so incredible are each of them.  Such a treasure, such stories to savor and share, to remember.

Arlene jumped in wholeheartedly into this Blog project. She has shared so many photographs, 
helped with so many posts, actually been the impetus for many of them. 
 Her enthusiasm and encouragement has kept me going, kept me researching. 
 Her laughter as we talk and share is a tonic for this blogger.

It seems also that our work together has wrought something incredible. 
Look at these statistics:

The blog is up to over 35,500 page views. This is since its inception in September of 2012.
Look what Mrs. Gouveia has  inspired just as she inspired her students:
This is a ClustrMap, part of the blog which tells us much about where and who,,,,

Each time the blog is viewed a small red dot pops up, if the dot is bigger it means 100 views, if it is yellow it denotes a new viewer.  Blogspot statistics tell me how many viewed each post.

There are readers from 50 states and 73 countries! Highest rate of views from the U.S. are
Massachusetts, Florida, California, New Jersey, New York, Washington state and Rhode Island.

The countries are fascinating: top after the U.S. is  RUSSIA: there is someone, or more than one, who checks in every new post from that far away place.  After that comes Canada ( I know who), United Kingdom, Portugal, Australia, India, France, Italy and Spain. 
Did you know there is a translator function on this blog?

People intrigued about the history of our little School Street Village in New England, and the city of Taunton.  Perhaps it is the Sister City Taunton, England that checks in?  The need to go back and sink again into a simpler time seems universal.

So what can I say, Arlene Rose Gouveia? 

It is my pleasure and my honor
to work with you, to be inspired by you and to call you my friend.
May many, many years lie ahead for this collaboration of love.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


The post on Taunton State Hospital met with an incredible response.  If you go to I'm From Taunton Facebook page where I announce each post, you will see 33 comments and 23 links so far. That does not count the comments made on the post itself here on the blog. Many of those who grew up in Taunton, including the Village, were familiar with the hospital, even if passing by or hearing the stories.
They or their parents may have worked there.

These photos have been taken from Keep Taunton State Hospital Open! a Facebook page.  There is much information there if you want to read more, especially about legislative efforts.

One of the I'm From Taunton Facebook a reader informed us that today there are 45 beds at the hospital and there will perhaps be more.  A sure reflection of the need for mental health inpatient care.  I am including here articles from 2013 and this year which tells us about the status of the hospital today.

This post has been a learning experience for me and it appears for readers.  Your willingness to share is very much appreciated.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


As a child growing up in the Village in Taunton, we often heard such taunts as," you will end up at Hodges Ave.!"  We did not have to guess what that meant…we knew.  It referred to the Taunton State Hospital on Hodges Avenue where mentally ill patients were placed.  The hospital was not far from the Whittenton part of Taunton, a hop, skip and jump from the Village.  It was also not far from the old Mill River mills and Reed and Barton factories.  Interestingly, the haunting movie, Shutter Island, was filmed at those old mills.  The movie was about a mental institution back in the 1940's from the book of the same name by Dennis LeHane.

                                                  Taunton State Hospital in the Snow

My favorite authors as a teen were Edgar Allen Poe and the Bronte Sisters.  I had grown beyond The childhood Bobsey Twins and was in my dramatic gothic period.  Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Nevermore…bring them on!  Maybe the spectacle of those Victorian buildings silhouetted against the sky at the State Hospital that I passed so often, imprinted itself on my young mind.

It was after creating the last two posts that I decided researching this hospital seemed a logical direction to take.  As we know, many of those resting beneath the metal markers at the Pauper's cemetery were from Taunton State Hospital.  This post taught me much I did not know about the hospital. As with the rocking chair gravestone memorial there is a good bit of psychic interest and legend abounding on the Internet about Taunton State.  I will not be dealing with that, except to say one must take it with a ton of salt.  Many places of concentrated suffering and abandonment retain that sense which can often be felt, especially in active imaginations.

A student nurse there in the late 1950's, I had personal experience within those walls and will share it among and between the lines I write. Taunton State Hospital is a vital part of Village and Taunton history and cannot be ignored.  It is also part and parcel of state and national history.

                                       Here we go….beyond those stern foreboding walls.

Taunton State Hospital (or Lunatic Asylum as it was first called) opened its doors to patients in 1854. It's location in Taunton was not welcomed by Taunton residents to begin with, as can be imagined. However, it soon became a place at which many folks from Taunton found employment.  At one point in its history, the hospital contained forty buildings.  Not only physicians, nurses and attendants but all types of employment opportunities were available.  There were kitchens, a chapel, bakery, laundry, pharmacy, greenhouses, to name just a few. There would have been a massive grounds and maintenance department and residences for nurses and many physicians and staff.

It was only the second state hospital for the mentally ill to be built in Massachusetts. Its initial purpose was to handle the overflow from Worcestor State Hospital, seen in the photo below.

The Taunton institution, too, became full to capacity in a short time. Remember, the care of the mentally ill prior to the advent of psychotropic medications was of a totally different kind. It relied on incarcatation and restraint for those patients many of whom far beyond reach of the help then available. Often it was the poor that were treated in such institutions,  but not exclusively.  One of of the hospital's famous and infamous patients was Jane Toppan an unlicensed nurse who from1860 to 1901 murdered 31 people under her care at such hospitals as Massachusetts General. She is  buried among others from Taunton State in the Pauper's cemetery on E. Brittania St.  She was also the inspiration for many novels, plays and even movies.  A famous patient was Thomas Hubbard Summer, 
a sea captain who developed a celestial navigation tool known as the Sumner Line.  
 The legend that Lizzie Borden was a patient there proved to be untrue.

Wikopedia has a lengthy section regarding Taunton State and provided me with 
significant information.Many of the photographs however, come from groups which specialize in gaining access to and photographing abandoned sites in the U.S. 
 Their photographs are invaluable, especially in this case, as so much of the institution is now gone.  This group entered over a 15 ft fence at four in the morning.

                     Here we see in one of their photographs that silhouette so
 familiar to us who grew up in Taunton.

Below is a photograph from the past of a lovely curved staircase at Taunton State.  The treatment of the mentally ill in those early years when the hospital was built was thought to be progressive and labeled the "Moral Treatment".   The groups that under cover of darkness enter the grounds of places like Taunton State may be compared to archeologists as they search the ruins with their cameras for the debris of lost memories.  Declared a National Historic Site, eventually the State sold off architectural features to people and companies all over the country, leaving nothing at the site of the hospital's ruins.  I imagine this photo  below contains just such valuable collectables.

                                           Taunton State Hospital- Interior photograph

The hospital was built in a rare and unique neoclassical style. It is also a "Kirkbride" hospital.
Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride advocated a hilly location which would allow fresh air and sunlight to permeate the institution. None of the Kirkbride hospitals exist today. The Taunton hospital sits on a former 154 acre farm along the Mill River.  The architect, Eldridge Boyden,  built spectacular architecture including Holy Cross College, whose buildings still stand today. The hospital was noted for its beautiful Dome. The construction cost $151,742.48.

 One could certainly say, as does the creator of online Abandonded Places, that what happened to Taunton State Hospital
could be called "demolition by neglect."

Here is another spectacular stairwell at the hospital.

 One of its most wonderful features were its beautiful  breezeways connecting the wards to the infirmary.  The distinct cupolas and cast iron characters gave it a unique personality.Below is the
ruin of one of the breezeways.

In 1975, the main patient care portion of the hospital was closed.  In the early 1990's a $12 million grant was set up to provide renovations.  In 1994, the site had been added to the National Registry of Historic Places…imagine.  But, this architectural beauty was destined for abandonment and collapse.  In 2006, a huge fire caused massive damage, the famous and well known Dome collapsed in 1999.

The Dome in its Day

                                          In 2009, the rest was nearly all demolished.

This was the nurse's residence at Taunton State.
Although my family was in the Village in Taunton 
I spent many a night here
while on my three month rotation.  I was 18 years old and 
this experience was a great big dose of fast maturing.

Below is a photograph of an abandoned common room at the Hospital.  I remember we students worked on a woman's ward with just such an open, sunny room. Benches and chairs circled the room. It was here, on my first day, that I found the mother 
of a friend in the Village sitting quietly in a chair against the wall.  
She never said a word, only sat deep within her own thoughts.  
This was not one of the most difficult wards, it was quiet except 
for the shuffling gait of patients going to and fro.

                             Another aspect of such a ruin holds its own musical memories.

This was all in another era of medical care, the years I was there.  We student nurses were given a large ring of keys that were threaded on a belt worn under our all-encompassing starched aprons. It is amazing the sense of power that those keys gave to a person. We were under stern orders to lock each door after us which we unlocked. Who knows but my keys
 unlocked this old rusted hospital lock below.

  We never went to the "back wards".  For some reason I did go once and it was a disturbing place, with much noise and suffering. That trip required much unlocking and locking.  I felt I was a matron in some novel by Dickens. Perhaps this photo is of one of those "back wards."

Perhaps, though, my most dramatic experience took place in a tunnel like 
this one under the buildings. We students were shepherding a large group of patients
 over to an auditorium to see a movie. 

 It was night and suddenly all of the lights went out!  
It most likely took place at one of these tunnels. 
The lights came back on after a few very long minutes…
I am sure the patients were as afraid as we were!

Today those state hospitals no longer exist in the same way.
Many people lived whole lives at these
Institutions until such time as the fabled de-institutionalization
process began in the state and then across the country.
 Some had been there so long there was no place for them 
to go when released back into a frightening and lonely world..

                                               South wing at Taunton State Hospital

There was a great move to save the hospital, but neglect allowed precious architectural pieces and buildings to fall to powder and disappear.  We can thank those photographers who at least saved pictures of what once was.  At one time, this hospital was state of the art, and Harvard medical staff were part of it all.  Young student nurses provided a glimpse of another life for patients.  Like so much of the Taunton landscape it lives only in memory.  

There was despair here and loneliness and anguish, but there would have been caring, shelter, and a sense of family for so many.  I salute those who cared for so many over the decades.

People are storytellers, but places are, too.  Taunton is a treasure of architectural and historic homes and buildings. Once Taunton State Hospital was among them.  Many, such as the Taunton Public Library which is fast fading, are also being lost to the practice of "demolition by neglect." Never to be replaced. There must be a way of truly recycling these places and keeping their histories sharp and present.

                           Meanwhile, in closing this post I invite you to watch this poignant film.
                            You Tube: Abandoned History: Taunton State Mental Hospital

There are so many sources for this post. If you are interested, go on any of them or just use your search engine for others.  Wikipedia, as mentioned is one, and also is a source for the story of Jane Toppan.
Here are a few others.


On Pinterest and Tumblir there are many photographs of Taunton State, some of which I have included in this post.  Some of the photographs are from the archives of The Library of Congress.