“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Owatonna in Steele County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Minnesota State Schools

Minnesota State Schools Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Liz Koele, January 25, 2022
1. Minnesota State Schools Marker
Inscription.  During its first session in 1858 the Minnesota State Legislature established the first of several schools for the training and care of citizens who suffered mental and physical disabilities and for children who were unable to care for themselves. The first school opened in Fairbault in 1863, after five years of delay due to lack of funds. Called an "Asylum," later an "Institute," and now an "Academy," its students were those who were blind and deaf. Separate schools were later established here for the blind, the deaf and the mentally deficient. In 1885, a State School for Dependent and Neglected Children opened in Owatonna. While it closed in 1970, the Fairbault schools continue to function.

The schools are similar in both style and plan to buildings found at Minnesota state hospitals and correctional facilities. A typical complex included separate buildings for administration, classrooms, gymnasium, a hospital dormitories, and service facilities such as a power plant, a laundry, and farm buildings. The farms allowed the schools to be partially self-sufficient. The schools were established by law to provide the students with activities
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and training, while protecting them from the "slights and rebuffs" of the outside world.

The first clinical psychologist to be employed in a mental retardation institute in the United States was at the Fairbault State School. A.R.T. Wylie was that pioneer in the field of mental health research.

Several of the school buildings in Fairbault and Owatonna are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The school complex at Owatonna continues to serve the public. The buildings are used by the city, providing space for administrative offices, an art center, a museum interpreting the state school, and other uses.
Erected 1997 by the Minnesota Historical Society.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Education. In addition, it is included in the Minnesota Historical Society series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1858.
Location. 43° 59.242′ N, 93° 15.154′ W. Marker is near Owatonna, Minnesota, in Steele County. Marker can be reached from Interstate 35 at milepost 35,, 2.2 miles north of 93rd Street Southwest (County Highway 4), on the right when traveling north. Marker is at the north bound Straight River Rest Area. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Owatonna MN 55060, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the
Minnesota State Schools Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Liz Koele, January 25, 2022
2. Minnesota State Schools Marker
crow flies. Minnesota Canneries (approx. ¼ mile away); National Farmer's Bank of Owatonna (approx. 6.9 miles away); Rock Island Railway Station 1901 (approx. 7 miles away); History of the State Public School Children’s Cemetery (approx. 7 miles away); History of the State School Root Cellar (approx. 7 miles away); State Schoolers U.S. Military Memorial (approx. 7.1 miles away); Main Building (approx. 7.1 miles away); Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children (approx. 7.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Owatonna.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 28, 2022. It was originally submitted on January 7, 2010, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 998 times since then and 133 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 28, 2022, by Liz Koele of St. Paul, Minnesota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 6, 2023