Western State Custodial School

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Western State Custodial School
Established 1937
Opened 1939
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Buckley, WA
Peak Patient Population 1,918 in 1958
Alternate Names
  • Rainier State School
  • Rainier School


Rainier School is a residential facility for about 370 adults with developmentally disabilities located within the city limits of Buckley, Washington about a mile-and-a-half from downtown. The campus is situated in a peaceful country setting with a unique and prominent view of Mount Rainier.

In 1939, Washington State opened the Western State Custodial School in the small town of Buckley. The site provided 1,265 acres, ample land for the housing and self-sufficient dairy farm to come. Promise of spacious grounds drew many needy families to the new facility. The public image of the institution was a departure from large-scale hospital ward life, promising outdoor activities, exercises and classes. Rainier School's first residents arrived in October 1939 from what is now known as Lakeland Village. Then named Western State Custodial School, Rainier School was the only such facility in Western Washington. The facility was renamed Rainier State School in 1947 and then Rainier School in 1956. Resident population peaked in 1958 at 1,918.

Today, Rainier School's population is about 370 adults with a wide variety of abilities and needs. 24-hour residential care and specialized care or teaching is provided in the areas of work or vocational training, leisure activities, social relationships, and everyday life tasks. Programs and services are individualized and designed to enhance self-determination and maximize independence.


Main Image Gallery: Western State Custodial School