McLean Hospital Tapped for National Register of Historic Places

October 21, 2002

Public Affairs

Belmont, MA - The McLean Hospital campus has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination, submitted by the Belmont Historic Commission and approved by the Massachusetts Historic Commission, now rests with the National Park Service in Washington, DC.

Arlington School

Arlington School

The National Register of Historic Places is the federal government's official list of historic properties worthy of preservation. The National Park Service is expected to approve the McLean nomination in early 2003.

"This recognition of the historic value of the McLean Hospital buildings and landscape elements highlights the unique nature of our campus," said Michele Gougeon, executive vice president and chief operating officer for McLean Hospital.

"McLean is an unusually fine and well-preserved example of a late-19th and 20th century psychiatric campus," says Candace Jenkins of the Belmont Historic Commission, who compiled the 60-page nomination.

Founded in 1811 and located in Charlestown, Massachusetts, McLean moved to its Belmont location in 1895. Its grounds were selected by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead.

While the entire campus has unique historic qualities, the initial buildings constructed hold additional historic significance because they represent the first full-fledged, cottage-plan psychiatric hospital in the United States, providing a home-like, rather than an institutional, atmosphere for patients.

According to McLean Hospital Archivist Terry Bragg, the architects who designed the buildings also lend to the historic significance. "The architects read like Who's Who. Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, which eventually became the firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott, designed McLean's North Belknap and the Administration buildings. They are the same group responsible for the Chicago Public Library and Harvard Medical School among others. William Peters designed Upham House. He became famous for designing colonial revival houses in the Back Bay area of Boston. These were the leading architects of the time," said Bragg.

McLean's nomination to the National Register is part of an historic preservation agreement between the hospital and the Town of Belmont in a collaborative plan to develop approximately 50 of 238 McLean acres, permanently preserve more than 100 acres of public open space, build a new town cemetery and create affordable housing.

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