|Oregon State Institute for the Feeble Minded
was the original name for Salems Fairview Training Center
in southeast Salem. Established in 1908 by the Oregon Legislature,
it opened on December 1st with the transfer of 39 adults and
children from the Insane Asylum. Up until this time mentally
impaired children were sent to the only institution that could
provide them with any professional care. An example is this
"For Idiocy. Clifford Caspell, aged 6 years,
a son of G. W. Caspell of Stayton, was committed to the state
insane and idiotic asylum yesterday by County Judge W. C.
Hubbard. Clifford has been in such a condition since he was
three months old, caused by an attack of spinal meningitis."
Harry E. Bickers of Pendleton was appointed Superintendent
of that first home and had supervised the construction of
the first five buildingsdormitory, administration building,
laundry, a brick power house, and a barn. Construction began
in March, 1908. A reporter described the main buildings as
a magnificent southern mansion."
Here were located the superintendents office, reception
rooms, attending physicians office (Dr. W. Carlton Smith
was the first to serve in that capacity), and school rooms.
Separate dormitories for male and female students were maintained,
and later the children were grouped in families of 20 to 25
according to levels of intelligence.
The surrounding acreagesome 700 acres in allwere
put under cultivation, under the charge of W. L. Simeral for
the early years. Food supplies for the institution were produced
with help from able-bodied students and any overages were
sold to provide income for the school.
Despite close supervision of the schools residents,
escapes from the institution did occur; usually ending successfully
with the return of the escapees in a matter of hours. More
serious were periodic outbreaks of epidemics among students.
Soon after its opening, the school established a cemetery
on the grounds, but it was only used for five years. A cherry
orchard planted in the abandoned graveyard marked its original
In 1935 the schools name was changed to Oregon Fairview
Until its closure in July 2000, Fairview had served the mentally
and physically handicapped for nearly a century. Its few remaining
residents were transferred to group homes or returned to live
with their families.
Plans to utilize the abandoned grounds of Fairview include
three "pedestrian-oriented residential neighborhoods"
with large green spaces and a school or a campus of light
Compiled and written by Sue Bell
Daily Oregon Statesman newspaper, Salem, Or January 1, 1911,
page 27; March 14, 1895, page 4; March 10, 1908, page 6; January
1, 1910, page 26; January 1, 1911, page 27; August 26, 1909,
Information from Dean Byrd who lived at Fairview in the 1930s
when his father, Dr. Roy Byrd, was superintendent.
"Fairview Training Center A Master Plan for Redevelopment",
June 1999, pages 2,3 and 8.