Training School

The Training School was a state-run facility for the mentally handicapped. It was active from 1860 to 1993. During the Depression and World War II, demand for the schools services increased, resulting in both overcrowding and long waiting lists for new enrollments. Staffing levels increased during the 1960s as philosophies on treatment of mental handicaps changed, and there were 1,609 residents and 875 full-time staff as of 1969. During the 1970s and 1980s many residents were relocated from dormitories to on-campus cottages or to group homes located around the state. By 1976 the resident population had dropped to 1,106, and by 1991 just 141 people remained as residents. The “Training School and Hospital” was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The listed area was 350 acres and included 53 contributing buildings and seven non-contributing buildings. The majority of the contributing buildings were institutional buildings built between 1914 and 1930, all designed by the same architectural firm. Also, the district included a farm that was operated beginning in 1909. The farm supplied the institution with most of its food and provided occupational therapy for people with epilepsy, as farm labor was deemed to prevent epileptic seizures. Children housed in the institution hand-molded the concrete blocks used to construct barns on the farm property. In 1993, after numerous lawsuits concerning the conditions of the hospital, the Training School was closed and its patients sent to outpatient facilities and other institutions. After the closure, some dilapidated buildings were demolished. The rest remain on a now partially active campus. The fate of the remaining buildings is unknown.

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