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Rosewood Center

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Rosewood Center

In March 1888, The Maryland Legislature approved “An Act to establish and incorporate an Asylum and Training School for the Feeble Minded of the State of Maryland” (Chapter 183, Acts of 1888) which empowered a seventeen member Board of Visitors to direct the selection of a site for a school which "shall receive, care for and educate all idiotic, imbecile and feeble-minded persons". Despite this sweeping command, only ten thousand dollars was appropriated for the land and buildings, with a five thousand dollar annual appropriation thereafter. The asylum was to be free of charge for all indigent children between seven and seventeen years of age, charging two hundred and fifty dollars for all other children.

Because of the inadequate housing and appropriation and the number of eligible applicants (conservatively estimated by the State Board of Health in 1884 at 1,319) the Board of Visitors had to adopt a restrictive admissions policy. Set forth by the Board in 1899, the admission policy confined itself to "those who are susceptible of a certain degree of training with the view to their being developed into a condition of utility and self-support, in other words it shall be a training school and not custodial.

Only white children between seven and seventeen years of age were admitted. Boys were taught farming, gardening and carpentry while girls learned sewing, washing, milking and horticulture, as well as training for domestic service. With these skills, it was hoped that the inmates would be self-supporting on their release at seventeen.

The training served another purpose as well, as the Board often displayed an almost obsessive desire to have the asylum be self-supporting. Much of the food was grown or raised on the surrounding farm and virtually all the clothes and table linen were made by the girls. All laundry and cleaning was done by the inmates and their labor was even used during the excavations for new buildings in 1892 and 1900. The farm continued in operation until the 1960s.

In 1900 the Board unsuccessfully proposed the construction of a separate school for the "colored feeble-minded" and for an additional building for epileptic children. The latter hope was realized when the Thom Cottage was erected in 1896 through a private donation. Another hope was realized when in 1894 and 1907 the Maryland Legislature passed bills to transfer all insane and feeble-minded patients from county almshouses to state institutions. While this created pressure on the physical plant at Rosewood, it also ensured continued state funding.

In 1912 the name of the facility was changed to "Rosewood Training School", reflecting changes in professional attitudes and terminology. The school greatly expanded its capacity during the twentieth century and by 1968 had approximately 2,700 patients, a number nearly triple that of only seventeen years earlier.

By World War II the nature of patient care at Rosewood had drastically changed since the 1890s. Originally the institution was charged with the training, education and care of children, and the building of classroom space had been deemed as important as the building of residential quarters. In fact, classrooms and patient wards were often found within the same building. Later, the emphasis shifted from the patient, his development and eventual release to need for protection of society by institutionalizing the patient for life. In 1943 the physically handicapped were admitted and in 1950 all age restrictions for admission were officially removed. Born out of the great humanitarian sentiments of the nineteenth century, Rosewood deteriorated into a custodial institution.

Despite the rapid expansion of facilities during this period, Rosewood continually suffered from over-crowding and a shortage of staff, often resulting in unsatisfactory patient conditions. These conditions were periodically reported during the 1940s in newspaper stories, culminating in 1949 in the series of articles in the Baltimore Sun on Rosewood and other state hospitals entitled, "Maryland's Shame". Public reaction to this expose and a series of grand jury reports in the 1950s focused attention on the need to better rehabilitate and eventually de-institutionalize patients while improving conditions for those requiring life-time care.

The hospital was integrated in 1956 and African American patients at the retarded unit of Crownsville State Hospital were transferred to Rosewood. In 1963, Henryton State Hospital was converted to an institution for the retarded. After reaching a high in the late 1960s, the patient population sharply declined as the emphasis shifted to the integration of the people with developmental disabilities into the community. The trend toward deinstitutionalization of patients has continued, rendering many of the older custodial-care buildings obsolete. Several, including King, Thorn, Holland, Wyman and Hill cottages have been razed, in addition to many of the farm buildings.

Between the 1950s and 1970s, as in many similar state-run institutions in the United States, there were numerous reports of malpractice, neglect and abuse. In 1981, the U.S. Justice Department declared that residents at Rosewood "failed to receive minimally adequate care".[2] Further investigations proved positive leading to the older buildings' being condemned in 1989.[citation needed]

The old and new facilities stood directly across a field from each other, the newer facility actively housed over half of the people with developmental disabilities who reside in Maryland's four state-run institutions. The main building was burnt in a 2006 case of arson and the site is now under security monitoring.

On Sunday, March 8, 2009, one of Rosewood's vacant buildings was destroyed by fire. The building had previously been approved for demolition, so firefighters allowed the building to burn rather than attempt to put it out.[3] The Maryland State Fire Marshal investigated the fire as possible arson.[4]

The State of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene closed Rosewood on June 30, 2009.

At the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis there is a large collection of historic photos [5] that illustrates the care of the Rosewood residents, and records related to patients and the administration of the hospital.[6]

 


Current Status: Abandoned

Abandoned Since: June 30, 2009

Established: 1888

On Sunday, March 8, 2009, one of Rosewood's vacant buildings was destroyed by fire. The building had previously been approved for demolition, so firefighters allowed the building to burn rather than attempt to put it out.   The Maryland State Fire Marshal investigated the fire as possible arson.

Just a tip, this building has asbestos warnings all over it.

I'm not responsible for your actions, I'm not suggesting you break into any of these buildings listed on this site. If you do, you're at risk of getting either arrested, or seriously hurt. If you do, it was your decision to break in, not mine. You control your own actions, Not me.