I was visiting Tufts today (more on that later) when, on a whim, I decided to track down the old Grafton State Hospital cemetery. I had a rough idea of where it was, and the leaves are off the trees, so I was able to spot this memorial through the woods.
I had to ditch the minivan on the side of Centech Boulevard and trek up a hill and through some woods before I came to a giant clearing. This is Hillcrest Cemetery, where 1,041 former residents of Grafton State Hospital are buried, most in graves marked with just a number.
This is a memorial for the veterans who were buried here. Let’s take a closer look.
Now, up until this point, my sole focus has been this memorial. This is what I spotted from the road, this is what I kept in sight as I walked up from my car. I have paid attention to nothing but this memorial and the uncomfortable feeling you get when you walk through a cemetery full of barely marked graves when your foot slips, perhaps a little more than is proper, into the soft ground.
So you can imagine my surprise when I turned to the right and found this.
I’d completely forgotten that there was supposed to be a creepy old stone tower here as well! How in the world did I miss seeing that?
I’m told that it’s an old Civil War lookout tower but, right now, it looks like a place where kids go to drink beer (or something stronger, judging by all the mini glass bottles sparkling in the leaves surrounding the place).
Yeah, this place must be fantastic at night. Nothing quite like spending your time in a crumbling stone fortress surrounded by the unmarked graves of people who died in the local mental hospital.
My middle schooler learned about Grafton State Hospital at a history club meeting and was freaked out for days. I think the teacher overplayed the spooky factor. We had a long talk about treatments for the mentally ill and mental illness in general and I told him all about interviewing Kitty Dukakis about her electroshock therapy and, really, I think I bored him right to sleep with the overexplaining. Isn’t that what parenting is all about?
Most of the grave markers were impossible to find in all the leaves, but a few were more obvious.
The cemetery is about 3 acres, has no public access and you really need to know it’s there to find it. It’s a very lonely place.
Also, my son just came home and his comment about the tower is this: “Well, people say it’s an old Civil War tower, but no one really knows what went on there.”
God, I LOVE middle school students!