Missouri Reform School for Boys

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Missouri Reform School for Boys
Established 1887
Opened 1889
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Boonville, MO
Alternate Names
  • Missouri State Training School for Boys
  • Boonville Training School for Boys
  • Boonville Correctional Center (Current)


The Missouri State Training School for Boys at Boonville was founded in 1887 as a facility for wayward juvenile males. Over the years the school offered educational, vocational, and recreational opportunities supplemented by social service, psychology, medical attention and religious opportunities. The oldest building on the institution is reported to be the supply commissary built in 1888. As additional boys were committed more housing was required and in 1894 the present Stone Cottage, current Administration Building, was completed followed by Stephens Cottage, current visiting room, in 1896 named after Governor Lon V. Stephens, our Missouri governor at the time the institution opened in 1889. An additional 169 acres of land was purchased in 1898 and from the profits of the brickyard an additional 8 acres was acquired bringing the total to 345 acres.

In 1933, another reformatory school for boys, known as Algoa Farms, was opened and the name of the Missouri Reformatory again became the Missouri Training School for Boys. At this time the maximum enrollment was 646. Since the admission age to Algoa was between seventeen and twenty-five, the interpretation of the statutes for admission to the training school in Boonville was below seventeen years of age. By 1938 the Missouri Reform School for Boys at Boonville, which held as many as 650 youth at a time, was labeled one of the worst juvenile correctional institutions in the nation. In 1969 a federal report condemned Boonville as severely substandard in its efforts to rehabilitate and educate youth.

The school which had been operating as a penal institution for juveniles came under the direction of the State Board of Training Schools on March 17, 1948. From 1938 to 1949 there was little or no new construction or remodeling work done. World War II virtually stopped all work for the duration of the war. In 1949 the power plant was renovated and in 1950 Barton, Daniel Boone, George Washington Carver, Mark Twain, and George Caleb Bingham cottages were completed. A presidential commission encouraged states to create “cottage life” for institutionalized children during this period so life at the institution simulated a family.

In 1970, vocational training included five accredited areas: auto mechanics, woodworking, metal, print shop, and radio/electronics. Title 1 programs funded in 1968 included typing, driver’s education, GED, music appreciation and photography. In the 1970’s reform for youth took a definite turn and the larger “penal” juvenile facilities became a way of the past. Juveniles were placed in smaller group homes to simulate family and if possible be closer to their families and the last largest juvenile facility in the state, Boonville Training School for Boys, was closed in 1983. In 1983 the DOC constructed a 14-foot chain link fence topped with razor wire encompassing the main grounds of the 59 acre facility.



To date 23 people have been identified from Missouri Online Death Records but only one tombstone has been inscribed.