Photo © Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
- Location Genre:State School / Developmental Center
- Age:166 years
- Demo / Renovated:N/A
- Decaying for:N/A
- Last Known Status:Abandoned
This institution that cared for the developmentally disabled was the first of its kind in the United States; founded in 1848, the school was the leading center for mental retardation and eugenics research (the study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding, studied widely before the association with the Nazi movement). The 72 buildings served mostly children with disabilities, and despite reputations of being a leader in research, conditions inside reflected the common effects of overcrowding, with reportedly 36 children sleeping in each dormitory.
The most infamous aspect of this facility is the testing of radioactive substances on unknowing participants in the late 1940's, according to declassified documents from the US Department of Atomic Energy. The tests were performed in conjunction with Harvard University, MIT, and was sponsored in part by the Quaker Oats Company. A total of 74 patients were encouraged to participate in the experiment under the guise of joining a "science club", where the boys were fed iron and calcium enriched meals with "radioisotope tracers" that were used to track absorption.
The doses given were very low and doubtfully caused any injury to the subjects, but the troubling moral dilemma exists in the fact that neither the children nor their parents were given knowledge about the testing.
A mental health reform movement ended future admissions in 1972, and the school is slowly emptying out, awaiting full closure.