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Oregon State School for the Deaf
 
The 1870 census showed that there were at least thirty deaf children. in the state of Oregon. This data led the state legislature to allocate $2000 for the establishment of the Deaf and Mute Institute. Hired as principal of the school was William S. Smith, a deaf-mute from New York, who had been educated at Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. The school opened November 15, 1870 at "Island Home" on the J. B. McClane property, but classes were suspended in April of 1872 due to lack of funding.

A two-year appropriation voted by the Legislature in 1872 allowed the reopening of the school in a new location in downtown Salem on the corner of Chemeketa and Church Streets, formerly the Academy of the Sacred Heart. As of 1880 a third Salem location for the school was at Church and Mission Streets, later occupied by the Oregon School for the Blind, in a building owned by Asahel Bush. Land nearby was rented for gardening. The Institute remained at this location until 1894 when bids were solicited for available property in the area to construct a new home for The Oregon Institute for Deaf-Mutes. Of the eighteen proposals received, that of Z. F. Moody for a 321 acre farm six miles east of the city was accepted and construction began in the Spring of 1894. Here printing and carpentry shops were set up to train young students. A farm and orchard were also maintained to employ the young people as well as to supply food for the school and a small income for the institute. However, the school's isolation and proximity to the "bad influence" of the reformatory were early problems with the institute's new location. A crusade began to relocate the school to town where students would have more opportunities to interact with the hearing population and to avoid "the bad boys" next door. This culminated in 1909 with the purchase of 52 acres in North Salem near the Fairgrounds where a new brick facility was built. The old Deaf-Mute School became a state Tuberculosis Sanitarium, opened in 1910.

In the Fall of 1910 the new school plant was completed and featured classrooms, a gymnasium, laundry, carpenter shop, printing office, shoe shop, industrial department and domestic science department, enclosed by some 100 acres of farmlands. This facility (with numerous expansions) has housed and educated the state's deaf students up until the present day.

Bibliography:
"Smith Bible Records," Beaver Briefs. Vol. 19, #2 (Spring 1987).

Daily Oregon Statesman, January 1, 1910, p. 6.

Daily Statesman, March 2,. 1894, p. 3.

"Oregon School for Deaf Mutes. Principal's Report for the Year 1880," p. 4.

Oregon Statesman, November 15, 1870, p. 3.; January 1, 1899, p. 21.

"Report of State Board of Education on the Deaf Mute School," dated 5 Sep. 1872, p. 26.

 

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