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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981
Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
The State Industrial Home for Girls was established by an act of the General Assembly in March of 1887. In July of that year the commissioners, appointed by the Governor accepted a donation of $5,000 from the Chillicothe Board of Trade.
The first cottage was built in 1888 known as Marmaduke Cottage. Succeeding cottages were known as Missouri, 1895, Slack, 1901 and Folk, 1907. The first girl was sent to Chillicothe in 1889. By 1910 more than seven hundred girls had lived in the institution. The first superintendent was Miss Emma Gilbert.
In the early days of the Home, industrial work was emphasized such as: cooking, bakery, laundry, and sewing. The Home had its own dairy, garden, laundry and bakery. A power plant was added in 1910, and in 1922, a steam laundry and Hyde School were built. In the 1930ís Park Cottage was built and Stark Cottage was built as an infirmary. In the 1920ís and 1930ís elaborate May Day feteís were held, the school had an orchestra and a peak enrollment of more than three hundred girls.
The sewing department of the school at one time made all of the clothing worn by the girls and stressed needlework. A beauty shop was started and training was given to the girls so they could pass their State Board of Cosmetology Examinations.
Mrs. Kitty Shepherd Griesser was superintendent for a number of years in the 1930ís and early 1940ís.
Stella Hall Thompson was superintendent iníthe early 1940ís. She was followed by Lena Ruddy Smithson. During her superintendency Marmaduke Cottage was torn down, and Donnelly was built. The Board of Training Schools was set up in 1945. Dorothy Forest Roberts was superintendent for a brief time and was followed by Florence Dennis. A nursing course was added during her superintendency and in 1956 Negro girls were moved from Tipton to Chillicothe.
Myrtle Weber was superintendent in 1960 and 61. During her superintendency Blair Cottage was built. Girls started working as aides at Peter Pan School during this time.
She was followed by Mary Jane Gokbora. Vocational certificates were issued for pre-vocational training and a Class AA school with 34 and one half units of credit was maintained at this time.
Janet Van Walraven was the next superintendent. An Intensive Care unit was established in 1969 to provide intensive individual help to meet the increase in number of seriously disturbed, impulse ridden girls.She was followed by Margaret Jones as superintendent. In 1975 the Division of Youth Services came into being, and the overall treatment program includes both academic and remedial education and pre-vocational courses along with group therapy. Jerry D. Wilmath is at present superintendent of the school.