Pacific State Hospital

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Pacific State Hospital
Opened 1927
Closed 2015
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Pomona, CA
Alternate Names
  • Pacific Colony
  • Frank D. Lanterman State Hospital and Developmental Center
  • Lanterman Developmental Center


The Center, which opened in 1927 at its present location in Pomona, consists of 21 client residences, 1 acute hospital unit; a variety of training and work sites; a Vocational Training Center; and recreation facilities, including a swimming pool, playgrounds, camp, carousel, equestrian center, track, and a ballpark. Other entities housed on campus include a Research and Staff Training Building, the UCLA Student Immersion Research Program, a Child Day Care Center for community and staff members' children, Credit Union, and the California Conservation Corps.

Thinking "feeblemindedness" to be a menace, the California Legislature created Pacific Colony as a Southern California facility to detain the "feebleminded". People with developmental disabilities were "inmates", needing to be locked away from society forever because of their "insanity". The present location welcomed it's first 27 "inmates", on May 2, 1927. At that time, only the city of Pomona existed in the local area.

By 1946, over 1,900 people crowed into a facility that had only grown large enough to hold 1,512 people. With World War II finally over, the state allocated more money for expansion and improvements.

The name change in 1953 to Pacific State Hospital, marked a statewide shift in understanding that had begun in the 1930's. No longer were residents of Pacific considered "inmates" but "patients" who were sick and needing treatment to be made well. The new use of the socio-psychological team, social workers, psychologist, and parents and innovative practices such as in-service training for nurses provided some of the practical evidence of this shift. The era also marked the start of a movement toward helping people with developmental disabilities prepare for living in the broader community.

Championing the cause of people with developmental disabilities throughout his career, State Assemblyman Frank D. Lanterman ensured their civil rights and guaranteed them life-long services through the creation of the Lanterman Act. He also initiated the network of community resources known as the Regional Centers. In honor of his dedication, Pacific changed it's name in 1979 to the Frank D. Lanterman State Hospital and Developmental Center.

People with developmental disabilities are now perceived as individuals with special needs rather than "'patients," and referred to as "clients". By dropping "State Hospital" during the nineteen-eighties, Developmental Centers throughout California adopted this philosophy and promoted the fact that all clients receive progressive habilitation training.

Lanterman Developmental Center's last resident moved into the community on December 23, 2014 and the facility began warm shut down operations. The facility property will be transferred to the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona on July 1, 2015.