New Lisbon State School

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New Lisbon State School
Opened 1914
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location New Lisbon, NJ
Alternate Names
  • State Colony for Feeble-Minded Males at New Lisbon
  • New Jersey State Colony for Boys
  • New Lisbon State Colony
  • New Lisbon Developmental Center


On July 8, 1914, New Lisbon opened as an experimental venture to house a handful of boys transferred from The Training School at Vineland another institution for the mentally retarded located an hour or so away. In fact, New Lisbon’s first name was: The Burlington County Colony of The Training School at Vineland. In 1916, with about fifty residents, the Colony became a state institution. New Jersey’s state emblem was added to its sign and it was given a new name: The New Jersey State Colony for Boys (though it was sometimes referred to as the State Colony for Feeble-Minded Males at New Lisbon). The state determined that private contributions from county citizens could not sufficiently fund the institution. Thus, a board of managers was appointed and the first annual appropriation was $25,000—a considerable sum at that time.

As for the residents, the children who had originally been transferred from Vineland were more emotionally deficient than mentally ill. The founders thought this kind of child could readily be exploited and molded to the ideals of a new concept; they were right. Over time, the Colony started accepting boys with a multiplicity of mental illnesses and deficiencies. When state funding made it feasible they also took in the community’s most deranged boys, some of whom were just short of being legally dangerous.

By 1926 New Lisbon was recognized as a “training center,” and by World War II it housed nearly 800. When I was sent there in 1951, the population had grown to 900 and many resident cottages were uncomfortably overcrowded. At that time, many shades of abuse and neglect had escalated to unfathomable levels, and continue into the 21st Century with no letup in sight. NLDC was originally an offshoot of the Vineland State School and was called, variously, "Four Mile Colony" and the "Colony for Boys", and later "New Lisbon State School" before taking its present name in the early 90's. Today, New Lisbon houses approximately 500 residence, and receives 76 million dollars in state and federal funding per year.


This cemetery was established in 1915. In almost all cases, the persons buried here were former patients of NLDC. Known burials