Petersburg State Colony for the Negro Insane

Petersburg State Colony for the Negro Insane (HMFIO)

Location: Petersburg, VA 23803
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 12.611', W 77° 27.215'

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Petersburg, Virginia

— Dinwiddie County —

In 1938 the Virginia Assembly chartered a residential care facility for mentally retarded African-American males between 8 and 21 years of age. The Petersburg State Colony for the Negro Insane, as it was named, was located on the present site of Richard Bland College about seven miles southwest of here. A female unit housing 70 women was added in 1941.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the terms "idiot", "imbecile", and "moron" were commonly used legal definitions for the mentally retarded. Care for the mentally handicapped at this time was not directed at education, but at bare maintenance. There were no admission criteria, and young people and hardened criminals were placed together.

From 1943 to 1952, as attitudes changed and the idea of occupational education began to take hold, the Colony became a training school, similar to a boarding school. Criminals were discharged, the atmosphere changed, and the facility was renamed "Evergreen" because of its beautiful green setting.

In 1960, the institution moved to its current 66-acre site across from Central State Hospital and its name was changed to the Petersburg Training School. In 1967 the facility was integrated, and in 1971 the facility received an influx of clients with mental retardation from Central State Hospital. This was the result of a legislative decision to separate persons with mental retardation from those who were mentally ill. At this time the name was changed again to the Petersburg Training School and Hospital.

When the services and facilities were expanded in 1975, the facility was renamed the Southside Virginia Training Center for the Mentally Retarded. The Training Center is one of five regional centers in the state to provide health, habitation and educational services for those eligible and stands as an example of the change in policy and attitude toward the education of persons with mental retardation through the years.

(Above) Built in 1904, the Female Psychopathic Building was occupied on all floors for dormitory purposes for female psychopathic patients. Clients with mental retardation were housed in this Central State Hospital building along with the mentally ill before the 1971 legislative change to separate them.

(Top Left) The Training Shop and Implement Storage Building was a two story frame building with an ordinary wood joist roof covered with metal. The first floor, which was entirely open, had an earth floor and was used for the storage of farm implements. In the center of the building was a small enclosed portion which contained a pipeless furnace which heated the training shop second floor.

(Bottom Left) This is a one story Quonset building with cinder block foundations. The building was used as a barber and beauty shop for patients.

(Above Right) The Milk Barn was a two story frame building with an ordinary wood joist roof. The first floor contained forty-four metal cattle stanchions. The second floor was used for storage of feed. The building had no means of artificial heat and was lighted by electricity.
Marker Number15
Placed ByCivil Rights in Education Heritage Trail?
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 at 6:11am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 282274 N 4121009
Decimal Degrees37.21018333, -77.45358333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 12.611', W 77° 27.215'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 12' 36.66" N, 77° 27' 12.90" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804, 434, 757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 94 7th Ave, Petersburg VA 23803, US
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