Maine School for Feeble Minded
From 1907 when the Maine Legislature decided to establish a school for "idiotic and feeble-minded" children until 1996 when that institution closed its doors, doctors, social workers, parents, legislators and community advocates discussed and debated the nature of the problem of developmental disabilities in children and adults and the best way for the state to care for those individuals. The enabling legislation passed in 1907 specified that the residents of the new facility would be between ages 3 and 21. When the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded opened, the "patients" lived at Hill Farm on the New Gloucester property. As the population of the facility grew rapidly, so did the building of large dormitories. Gray and Staples halls were the first dorms. Planners had thought residents would live in small units, but that was not practical due to the ever-growing number of residents.
The population grew rapidly for several reasons. First, some medical personnel and caregivers had a goal of sending all developmentally disabled persons to institutions. Also, judges sometimes send people to the facility because they were poor or orphans with no one to care for them. In one well-known case, the state removed residents of Malaga Island off Phippsburg from the island in 1912. Many of the residents were mixed race and some, when removed from the island, were sent to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded. Graves in the cemetery at Malaga were dug up and reinterred at the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded cemetery.
At times the residents of the institution were largely forgotten by most people in Maine. At other times, they and the facility were closely scrutinized. The history of Pineland offers insights into Maine's treatment of persons with disabilities and a window into national movements and beliefs about such care over nearly a century. Further, the institution never kept to the original legislation specifying that it would serve those ages 3-21. Older persons were residents and few people left at any age, at least legally. Over the years, many residents escaped from the facility, some permanently. Click here for more...
At its peak in the 1950s, Bartonville
housed 2,800 patients. The hospital remained in operation until 1972. After its closing, the buildings remained unused and were auctioned off to anyone who would demolish them. Due to the bankruptcy of the intended buyer, however, the buildings are now the property of Winsley Durand, Jr., who has converted most of the structures into office space.