Beantown. Days 1 & 2.

Spring 2009.

Even though it was only a month since my vacation in the D, a vacation down to Boston sounded like a good idea regardless.

It all came about while talking to GW; who liked the thought of going down to Boston for a few brews, some playoff hockey and some Red Sawx action. It sounded equally good to me and ferry reservations were made.

After taking the night ferry, I met GW around noon in Truro (Nova Scotia), then arrived in Boston around 9 or 10 o'clock. The ride was utterly uneventful, but it was good to be hanging with a friend again and also, good to be back in the United States.

We checked into our hotel, turned on the television and kicked our feet up after a long drive (mine was 3 hours to the ferry, night ferry, 5 hours to Truro, 10 to Boston). GW had some PBR tall boys, while I had some local Maine beer that was so mediocre, it doesn't deserve mention.

Eventually we left from the hotel into the deserted streets of Boston. It was a Wednesday night, but we expected to find something worthwhile.

It took us a good 30 minutes to even find a bar..and when we did, The Rattlesnake (see above) just so happened to be the bar that GW and our other friend Darya found accidentally on a previous visit! Huh.

I had early morning plans for the next day, so I had to take her easy the first night - a fact un-amusing to GW. In fact, some 8% beer, made in an old shoe factory, was on tap at The Rattlesnake - which would normally be right up my alley, but I had to settle on the 5%.

We called it a (relatively) early night and left The Rattlesnake after a few pints.

On vacation, plus drunk, it was time to be gluttonous and consume some late night food. We asked the hotel receptionist where to order food and he gave us two options: "Domino's may still be open & there's a place called Nan Ling...chinese food."

Domino's wasn't open, so Nan Ling it was.

Each of us consumed about 20% of our gigantic orders; all the while GW accosting me for eating the rice when the chicken is the more expensive food.

Full of chinese food and shoe factory beer, it didn't take long to fall asleep.

Six thirty came all too quickly.

I don't fully sleep when I have to wake up for something; I actually go into this sort of half sleeping - half listening, anticipation mode. The alarm went off and I sprung up and stumbled over. After a quick shower, it was out onto the Beantown streets.

I needed some water, Powerade, taquitos, pop tarts and granola bars for right now & also later. I found a 7-11 on the same block as the hotel and 3 taquitos it was for breakfast.

I sat outside and consumed my breakfast while waiting for my friend who lived north of Boston. He told me it would be no problem to pick me up, but I think he was regretting that decision as he now fought with traffic to get downtown.

Eventually he picked me up and I was thankful that I didn't have to move our car from the expensive parking garage and/or have to drive with my brain still quite cloudy.

You may remember a place by the name of Taunton which denied me back on my 2008 '9 day road trip out east'.

Well, while I was away from civilization (in NFLD), I read that Taunton was coming down. The financially distraught state of Massachusetts somewhere found money for the critically important demolition of these structures enclosed by a million dollar fence.

There are not a lot of places that hold my attention in pictures, but it's a whole different story when I've been to a place and been denied. Therefore, I had Taunton on the brain and its impending demolition bumped it up into my current top 10 places to see.

I was bummed as I didn't think I would make it down to Massachusetts in time. I was trying to calculate when I could possibly drive that distance and nothing worked - until this trip came along.

I really thought I was going to miss seeing Taunton, so therefore as soon as I had this trip was confirmed, I asked my friend (not GW) and he had no problem accompanying me there.

Past the first problem of actually getting to Massachusetts, I was nervous asking GW about going since I didn't want to turn the road trip into a going-in-buildings trip.

Timid Navi made an appearance and GW just laughed and asked if I thought that he thought I wouldn't want to check out any buildings on the whole trip? It was quite a relief and although I think GW might have wanted to stay out a little later during our first night in Boston, I don't think he cared all that much either - he's a pretty easy going fellow.

So GW stayed behind at the hotel and also went out wandering for a bit. My other friend & I headed south towards Taunton.

Worcester was the first insane asylum built in Massachusetts (1833). By 1851, it was severely overcrowded and a location for a second insane asylum was sought. Several cities throughout Massachusetts pleaded for the asylum, but the City of Taunton came out on top by promising $13 000 of their own money to buy a 154 acre farm in northern Taunton, which would provide a site for the proposed asylum.

Elbridge Boyden, a prominent New England architect of the time, was chosen to design the new Taunton asylum. Some of Mr.Boyden's other work includes Mechanics Hall and Davis Hall (demolished in 1964) of Worcester, and the Channing Memorial Church in Newport.

He was more prominent then 3 buildings would lead you to believe - it was simply a matter of me being unable to find one place listing all of his collaborations and only being able to find random web pages mentioning him.

The first buildings designed by Elbridge Boyden were constructed between 1851 and 1853 at a cost of $152,000 ($3.1 billion in 2007 dollars (this figure is from an online calculator - take it with a grain of salt)). In 1860, a large stone wall was built around the property with rocks taken from the ground during the original construction; then, between 1870 and 1935, construction of more cottages and residential buildings occurred.

Newer buildings were constructed on the grounds between 1937 and 1965. These buildings are somewhat distanced from the original buildings you see above. The newer buildings are still in use, while the old buildings have sat vacant since 1975.

Yes, the fact that it is an active campus makes it all that much more interesting to visit.

The original Boyden buildings were constructed in the Georgian style and remain one of the great examples of neo classical instructional architecture. Another redeeming architectural feature is in the capitals, dome and cornices; and their use of cast iron - Boyden's architectural specialty.

Well I should say that his dome no longer exists. As you can see in these fantastic HABS pictures, Taunton used to have a central dome in the middle of its Kirkbride building. That was until a fire erupted in 2006. The fire crews couldn't get adequate water pressure from the antiquated pipes and the fire raged on and vanquished quite an amount of the central area.

This was one of the first things we saw when we made our way inside. I was sort of disappointed and thought it would really limit the amount to see, but I was proven wrong.

"The [Kirkbride (the central, main)] building boasted all of the modern conveniences: central heat, running water, sewer and central ventilation. It contained a chapel, kitchen [see above picture], bakery, laundry, dining rooms, apartments for staff, washrooms, parlors [small sitting rooms, like in taverns], open-air verandas and "patient" rooms. Some patient rooms were dormitory style and others private. Private rooms were an innovation and reflected the institution's concern for its inhabitants who would now be called "patients" and not "inmates." "

-Taunton Lunatic Asylum (Historic Asylums)

As you can see in the Bird's Eye view of the property0, Taunton has a pair of small, completely enclosed courtyards.

I really enjoyed these because of the little hallways which connected them (pictured 1 picture up) and the actual courtyards (pictured directly above). Throughout the day, it was not as if we could simply walk outside gingerly, since we were inside the 10 foot perimeter fence; so it was a nice little break to be able to wander out into the courtyards with no repercussions.

0 - The Bird's Eye is actually pre 2006 fire, as you can see the dome I was talking about, is collapsed - this is where the fire occurred
and then officials demolished a section of the charred remains and erected the ridiculous fence.

The interior of the Kirkbride building (the main, largest building), was pretty empty except for the occasional mattress or lonely chair.

I had no complaints, it was still great to be inside a building I fantasized about for so long.

Besides just being a vacant asylum and also being a kirkbride, a lot of people travel to Taunton because they want to see the unique sun bridge.

Two additional wards were constructed in 1920, located off of the tips of the kirkbride building. Each of them was connected to the main building by their own sun bridge (example above).

The one ward remains active to this day as a juvenile delinquent facility; but the sun bridge to that building was demolished, so only the above sun bridge remains.

When you come to the sun bridge, you have to scurry past it quickly as people commonly walk their dogs on the property and could easily see you through the abundance of windows. In addition to this, the fence isn't very far away, so you can hear them quite clearly (and you have to assume they can hear you.)

It was with this that we passed the sun bridge and checked out the far ward. We were about to head into the basement and back towards the main kirkbride, when I told my friends that I just had to head back up and get my picture in that sun bridge. My friend and his buddy said they'd be in the basement and I hustled back up to the second floor.

Three ladies walked their dogs past as I peered out from behind a doorframe - following their every step along the fence line and out of view. I could hear another person nearby, but I was growing tired of waiting, so I set up the tripod and rushed over for the 10 second timer.

As with every other asylum I've been in, I was in love with the basements and the tunnels. To save us traveling through that sun bridge again, we took to the tunnels over to our next destination.

My buddy's buddy and I both voiced how much we loved the tunnels and we all ended up spending an exorbitant amount of time down there.

I had to laugh at the thought that I would be spending most of my time in the tunnels instead of up above ground. Nothing like traveling to a stunning asylum to get pictures of brick tunnels.

From here, we took the tunnel past the kirkbride and into some of the other buildings within the fence.

I sort of forget the explanation of each building, but some were obvious, like the powerhouse (seen above)...

...and the sewing/shoe making floor...

...and I can't remember, the mechanical room? the key room?

Throughout these 2 or 3 buildings, there was a lot more things, but mostly just furniture and junk. I did like the above olde english writing and also when my buddy showed me the spot where people used to sleep when they'd sneak in at night: sleep for a bit, then check the building out once the sun rose.

There were also patient files, neat old wooden barber chairs and not so neat sagging wooden floors.

Near the end of the visit, I thought we were growing more brash, but looking at the aerials now, I realize we were almost entirely out of view as we moved from building to building.

This also allowed me to get some better exterior pictures as I was limited inside the buildings by the limited number of windows which I could find without metal screens on them.

The above is one of my favourites. If I were to make an album of pictures which have came from buildings on my top 10 list, this would be the one for Taunton.

We checked out one more building, which I'm pretty sure was just about all we could check out. My friend & his buddy asked if I was content & made sure that I knew I was welcome to take as much time as I wanted.

We had been here for quite some time & I was certainly content. One of my top 10 buildings done.

A HUGE thanks go out to my friend and his friend1.

1 - I don't mean to refer to you in a fashion where you are a friend's friend; it's only so I can differentiate you in the storytelling.

45 minutes back into the city and I was back at the hotel. I went up to find GW sprawled out, tired from wandering around the city this afternoon. I cracked a cold one and took to sprawling on my own bed.

Some time would pass and we would have a few beers and I would get cleaned up from my excursion. I told GW of the empty buildings and he was satisfied with himself for not accompanying us.

We had somewhere to actually be this evening, so we began to hurry and we called a cabby to drive us across town, past the Common (pictured above).

Where were we going?

The Bruins & Habs playoff game, that's where!

Going into this day, I was contemplating a day of checking a top 10 building off, plus going to my first ever game in Boston - wondering if this would be one of the top 10 days of my life...

As we walked to the stadium, it was hard to argue that it wasn't. Instead of the jeering I'm used to from wearing my Bruins game to Detroit & Columbus games, we were surrounded by vocal fellow Bruins comrades - it was spectacular. Habs fans were being insulted left and right, gold and black flooded my eyes and we were entering the home arena of the greatest franchise in hockey.

To add to this? There was a collection of unbelievably cute girls, all wearing Bruins jerseys, and all witnessing my tongue dragging along the goodness, they didn't have a path to my heart, they had an 8 lane highway with a million green lights encouraging and welcoming them.

We had some seats in the upper deck, but the view was still damn good.

Plus you can't complain when you get Boston's Stanley Cup banners in the every shot as well.

There was one girl who was ruined though. I couldn't believe it; this sweet, amazing girl, complete with #37 Bergeron jersey, was with this toolbag Montreal fan - the Montreal fan bursting out of his extra medium shirt at all of 5 foot nothing.

Thankfully the Montreal fan, who became known as Markov from his Markov shirt, was heckled and harassed thoroughly. The poor, tiny security guard had his hands quite full with our rowdy section.

The highlight being when the entire section started singing that ooo-eh-ooo-eh-oh-eh song (that one Montreal fans chant every year)...all while literally 50 Bruins fans stood and pointed at Markov in unison.

The other highlight had nothing to do with Markov, but was funny nonetheless. We were observing this one 50 year old dude who was just trashed and didn't look like he had any idea where he was. Anyway, he was just swaying and smiling and having a good time...until he decided to light up some greens and this whiny bitch ran down and complained to the security guard.

The security guard quickly retrieved some City of Boston police, who quickly retrieved said green smoker from his seat. I felt bad for the guy, but it was amusing to watch him struggle with police.

Also, if you're reading this and thinking, 'that prick, why'd he have to pick on poor Markov'.

Well, we picked on Markov specifically because he would stand up and beat his chest whenever Montreal made any play. He stood up and cheered and was very vocal when Montreal scored, so we were very vocal whenever Boston did anything.

If you look at the above picture, these two guys weren't being vocal, loud or over-the-top. They sat there and watched the game and no one bothered them.

You can't expect to come to our house and loudly cheer on your Habs without repercussions.

Anyway, the Bruins obviously won and the day got even better.

I did my best to lose my voice yelling, to no avail. It's probably good though, as I was dying laughing at this guy's "French Canadians Drink Zima" sign.

We decided to powerhouse it and not go back to the hotel. The first bar was alright, but probably had the highest guy to girl ratio I've ever seen at a bar.

It's cool to see people in Bruins uniforms, but I'm not willing to endure a 97:3 guy to girl ratio for it.

We called a cabbie and told him to bring us to a good bar district. He dropped us off somewhere with a lot of line ups, but we did find one bar without one.

Inside, the guy to girl ratio wasn't much better and there was Red Sawx crap everywhere. The bar definitely failed the test for great bars.

We ended up having a couple beers at the weak bar and then heading home.

The cabbie found out I was from NFLD and commented that he had "never heard of anyone going there for work...horrible winters."

Yeah...I know.

Anyway, we didn't want Nan Ling again, so we got more taquitos and I had now had 11 taquitos in 2 days - Boston needs some other late night options.

We would attempt to find those tomorrow.

Onto Day 3...


1 - Worcester, Mass. - Places of the Past, The Worcester Academy

2 - Measuring Worth - Retrieve value of US dollar

3 - Taunton Reconnaissance Report

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