The Ladd School

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The Ladd School
Construction Began 1908
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Alternate Names Rhode Island School for the Feeble Minded Exeter School

Prior to building the Rhode Island School for the Feeble-Minded? in 1907, most patients were treated out of state at places with such charming names as the Connecticut School for Imbeciles and the Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded?. The Ladd School started as a farm colony, based on programs in other states were patients were housed in small cottage settings, as opposed to large institutions that came later, and worked in a rural setting doing small chores, farming, and later making of clothes and household items. In 1909 they erected a girls dormitory, as the boys was full and a waiting list was established.

In 1917 the name was changed to the Exeter School, dropping the “feeble-minded”, as the term began to grow objectionable. After a decade of mis-management, low funding, and high over-crowded enrollment, in 1928, the Exeter School was a warehouse for society's refuse. Amidst a steady and growing controversy over his policies, Dr Joseph Ladd retired on June 1, 1956. It was officially closed as an institution of the state in 1993. During the early seventies, privately-run homes for the mentally disabled brought suit against the state for running such poor institutions. In 1986, law-makers tried to get it closed because of pending legal issues (child abuse cases), and Rhode Island wanted to abolish institutions from it's mental health programs.


This is a short documentary on the school:

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