Doppelganger

While I was researching online for the previous post on COPH, I kept coming across photos that purported to be COPH but were labeled “Columbus Institution for the Feeble-Minded.” While the buildings were similar, they were in fact different buildings:

The Institute for the Feeble-Minded was not a Kirkbride building or an asylum. What is was was a school for children with developmental disabilities, such as Down Syndrome. It eventually was known as the Columbus State School and then the Columbus State Institution. Finding information on this building, its location and when it was torn down is quite difficult. However, unlike COPH, I remember actually visiting this building, and a little research confirmed its location at 1601 Broad St. It was actually right across the street from COPH, on the south side of Broad.

When I was in either the first or second grade, my dance school did a performance at what my mother still called “the feeble-minded school.” I remember it being to some sort of oriental music and we wore paper Chinese hats and eye makeup to suggest almond-shaped eyes (this was the 70s). Other kids in the class had told me there were “Mongoloids” (Downs kids) and “watermelon heads” (children with hydrocephaly) at the school, and I remember looking for them and not seeing anything that odd. This must have been fairly late in the school’s history, since by junior high we had developmentally disabled kids attending the same schools I did and the model of institutionalizing the majority of what we then called retarded kids was being discarded. I suspect it was torn down in the 80s, as I don’t remember it being there when we did our scouting trips to COPH in 1989.

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