Cambridge State School
|Cambridge State Hospital|
|Building Style||Cottage Plan|
|Peak Patient Population||2,008 in 1961|
The first cottage of the Minnesota Colony for Epileptics at Cambridge was opened on June 1st, 1925. The first patients were transferred from the Minnesota School for the Feeble Minded and Colony for Epileptics at Faribault. The colony at Cambridge was operated as part of the Faribault institution until August, 1927, when the main building opened at Cambridge. Thereafter the epileptic colony at Faribault was closed, and the Cambridge colony was operated independently. The Lake Owasso Children’s Home was leased from Ramsey County by the Department of Public Welfare in 1955 and operated as an annex of the Cambridge Hospital until 1976 (Laws 1955 c530). The colony was operated under the administration of a superintendent, assistant superintendent (from 1939 on), and steward. A full time physician joined the staff in 1927, and a principal was hired in 1941 to administer the colony’s education program.
In 1965 the superintendent’s position was abolished and superseded by a medical director and administrator. Populations increased greatly in the 1950s and by the early 1960s the highest populations of 2,008 (approximately 12% of the total populations of residents of the state hospital system) was reached. During this era, state wide efforts were made to “humanize” living conditions in institutions as well as start rehabilitation treatments which lead to a decline in the population at Cambridge State Hospital. A lawsuit in 1972 was filed against six state hospital, including Cambridge State Hospital, for improper care, treatment, conditions and training “did not meet constitutional standards.” The lawsuit formed strict restrictions on the structure of the state hospital system, patient rights, and staff to resident ratios. The populations of Cambridge State hospital decreased by fifty percent before the lawsuit was finally settled in 1987. The Minnesota Colony for Epileptics at Cambridge was organized with the cottage plan. Many of the buildings were plain red brick and flat-rooted. Some Colonial Revival elements and details were used for decoration, similar to the Minnesota Correctional Institute for Women in Shakopee.
Of the original buildings, several still stand today. Both Dellwood North and South are still used by other organizations, the Infirmary and Auditorium/Warehouse are used by M.E.T.O (Minnesota Extended Treatment Options Program), Cottage 11 “Oakview” has been renovated and is now used for office and overflow jail space, and the power plant has had the smokestack removed and is still standing. The rest of the land formerly occupied by the state hospital campus may be used for housing and a public park.
The burial area eventually grew to include five cemeteries, which occupied a plot of land behind the main buildings. The older graves are marked with stones that bear only patient numbers, as many of the patients came there without names. There are about 400 graves in the cemetery, now known as the "Garden of Remembrance". Find a Grave list of burials