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