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Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children

Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children

Owatonna (MN), 55060, United States

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Description The Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children, now known as West Hills, was located in Owatonna, Minnesota, from 1886 to 1945. The State School was created by an act of the Minnesota legislature in 1885 as an effort to provide safe, transitional housing for the state's orphaned, abandoned, and neglected children. The goal was remove to at-risk children from bad situations and place them in the State School, where they would reside in a home-like setting, receive an education, and eventually be placed with suitable farm families. During those 60 years, the State School was home to a total of 10,635 children who were orphans, or had been abused or abandoned. Both the Administration building and the State School campus are on the National Register of Historic Places.HistoryThe Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children was created by an act of the 1885 State Legislature, which was championed by Governor Lucius F. Hubbard and Reverend Hastings H. Hart, Secretary of the Minnesota Board of Corrections and Charities. Before this facility was created, orphaned, dependent, abused, and neglected children in Minnesota were placed in country poor farms with adult derelicts, petty criminals, alcoholics, and the mentally ill. This school was created to be a haven where these children could be saved from a life of poverty or crime, and transformed into productive members of society.Minnesota chose to follow the cottage system developed by the Michigan State Public School in Coldwater, Michigan, which was created as an alternative to the linear orphanage system. The cottage plan was to offer the children a family-like group atmosphere with about 20-25 to a cottage. Each cottage was managed by a matron who lived in the cottage full time. Eventually, there were 16 cottages on the grounds in Owatonna. By the 1930s, up to 500 children were housed at the State School at any time. Children were constantly being placed out, and new and unfa

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