of Northern Wisconsin Center
Governor Lucius Fairchild addresses the legislature to call attention to
"another class of unfortunates for whom substantial provision should be made by the
state. I allude to imbecile and idiotic children
for whom, under our present system,
there seems to be no place
Bills to create an institution fail in: 1871,
1876, 1877, 1885, 1887, 1891, 1893, 1895
April 9, 1895:
The state enacts legislation to create a "Home for the Feeble-Minded" in
Wisconsin and appropriates $100,000 for land and buildings. The Board of Control is
empowered to acquire, by purchase or donation, sufficient land and erect suitable
The three "objects" which prompted the foundation of the Home:
To relieve families overburdened with an "idiot" child.
To curtail the reproduction of the feeble minded and the epileptic by institutionalizing
feebleminded women of child bearing age.
To educate the "imbecile" to the highest sphere of usefulness.
After inspecting sites throughout the state, the Board of Control accepts the offer
of Chippewa Falls of 671 acres of land, plus $24,500, and locates the Home for the
Feeble-Minded on the Chippewa River at Silver Spring Park, 1.5 miles upstream of the city.
The board uses part of the cash presented by Chippewa Falls to purchase more land and
ultimately takes possession of 1021 acres.
Why Chippewa Falls?
It was perceived as a healthy place to live.
June 18, 1897:
The first "inmate" was received at The Wisconsin Home
for Feeble-Minded; 213 children were admitted by October.
Population 665; 131 employees
Renamed The Northern Wisconsin Colony and Training School
Chippewa Herald Telegram report "Finds Colony Attendants
Population peeked at 2,203; 250 employees
Renamed Northern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally
Population 547; employment peaked at 926 employees
Northern Center celebrates 100 years; population 302; 689
Northern Center begins significant downsizing to end long-term
care; population 172; 525 employees
Downsizing ceased with a reduction of 152 clients; 386
employees. Northern Center transforms into the EXCEL Short-term
Treatment Unit for adults.
Children are admitted to the EXCEL Treatment Unit
For additional historical information view Island Of Refuge;
a book detailing the history of Northern Wisconsin Center for the
Developmentally Disabled from 1897 to 1997.
April 02, 2013