Colorado’s Dark History: Colorado State Home and Training School
The Colorado State Home and Training School in Arvada started out as a place for the mentally ill but ended up being a lot more than that.
In addition to the State Home, the facility was also known as Ridge Home and the Home for Mental Defectives. When it opened in the early 1900s, it was with the best of intentions.
The first patient was registered in 1912 and by 1936 there were 260 patients.
Many of these patients were placed in the home when they were younger by family members who could not or would not deal with them. Many were perfectly normal, healthy children who had been dropped off and forgotten. As clinical advances were years away, most of those in the facility were drugged to keep them quiet and compliant.
As years passed, the buildings needed repair and the U.S. government stepped in, calling it unsafe, producing complaints from those in the area who were concerned with the declining safety of the place. Areas of the home were closed because of cracks in the walls and foundation issues.
The issues weren't just with the buildings, however. Several staff members were arrested and jailed for various crimes while employed there, including abusing patients.
Checking the information retained by the state you find the residents of the facility were routinely sterilized in the 1940s, as this was considered a regular practice. Fire safety was an issue as there were no fire escapes or plans for exiting a burning building. As the years passed, there were fewer and fewer staff members, leaving many residents without crucial care.
When the decision to close the facility became reality in the 1990s, the buildings were in serious disrepair. Teens were breaking in on a regular basis, and the place was still filled with beds, toys, and equipment.
When they lost funding, they lost everything. The residents who had remained were taken to other facilities and the buildings, once the asbestos was eliminated, were destroyed and now have stores on the site.