If you’ve seen Brad Anderson’s chilling 2001 horror feature SESSION 9, then you’re familiar with the hellish domain that was once the Danvers State Lunatic Asylum in Massachusetts.
While the film’s central tale is fictional, there are literally dozens of legends, myths, rumors and first-hand accounts of paranormal phenomena connected to the massive gothic structure — from horror stories about horrific procedures practiced on patients during the asylum’s operation (Danvers is often credited as the birthplace of the invasive neurological procedure known as a prefrontal lobotomy) to nightmarish legends about mysterious and often malicious entities roaming its corridors long after the facility was abandoned.
Not to mention the vast network of underground tunnels beneath the hospital, which Anderson used to terrifying effect in SESSION 9:
In addition to serving as the prime location for that film, Danvers also inspired H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional Arkham Sanatorium for stories like “The Thing on the Doorstep” and “Pickman’s Model.” That in turn inspired another fictional landmark: Arkham Asylum, prominently featured in DC Comics’ Batman Universe and its numerous media incarnations.
You may also be interested to know that Danvers Asylum’s history even precedes the 1874 construction of the structure itself: what is now modern-day Danvers was once Salem Village — the site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 1692, during which more than two dozen townspeople were executed for witchcraft in the wake of mass hysteria and paranoid accusations in the town.
Modern-day Salem, despite containing many historic landmarks from that period, is actually around six miles southeast of the village’s original location.
The entire facility and nearly all its attached structures were demolished in 2006 after the property was purchased by a land developer, and Danvers is now currently the site of apartment housing. But while it stood (occupied or otherwise), it was home to horrors both real and imagined… as well as some unsubstantiated incidents which many locals swear to be 100% authentic.
One of those stories, which made its way into the Creepypasta community via Reddit and 4chan via the legendary “Anomaly” photo series (also the birthplace of creepypastas like “Charlie Noonan’s Last Photograph” and “The Axeman of New Orleans”), revolves around a vintage photograph allegedly taken within the concrete tunnels beneath the hospital.
The image at top (further enhanced and enlarged above), reportedly taken in 1966 by a Danvers nurse named Gail Malloy, is said to depict Sarah Eustace — a patient who escaped her ward in 1955 and was never found, despite several exhaustive searches involving hospital personnel and local authorities.
Those involved in those searches theorized that Eustace likely never made it out of the complex labyrinth of tunnels, and may have become lost and disoriented in the darkness, eventually succumbing to exhaustion, dehydration and hunger. However, no corpse was ever found, even after the building was demolished.
Experts have not been able to positively ID the woman in the photograph as Sarah, though Malloy insisted that it was nearly identical to the photo contained in her hospital case file.
If this truly is Sarah Eustace, then she was apparently still living in the tunnels ten years after her escape from the ward… and while there is a distinct possibility she was able to hide out there while stealing supplies from the hospital, it’s unlikely she could have kept this up for a full decade.
This begs two very important questions:
First — if that’s really Sarah, how did she manage to survive that long?
Second — what if she didn’t?