Albion State Training School

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Albion State Training School
Established 1890
Opened 1893
Closed 1971
Current Status Active (as a correctional facility)
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Albion, NY
Alternate Names
  • Western House of Refuge for Women
  • Institution for Mentally Defective Delinquent Women
  • Albion State Institution
  • Albion State Training School
  • Albion Correctional Facility (Current)


The Western House of Refuge for Women at Albion was established by the Laws of 1890, Chapter 238. It opened in 1893 for women between the ages 15 and 30 who were convicted of petty larceny, habitual drunkenness, prostitution, or other misdemeanors. Albion's program included academic training to the sixth grade, vocational training, and religious training. It used a grading system to reward good behavior. Sentences were indeterminate and inmates could be held as long as five years. The institution operated under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Charities until 1926 when it was transferred to the new Department of Correction. In 1923, the name of the institution was changed to the Albion State Training School.

On July 1, 1931, the Albion State Training School (as there reformatory had been called since 1923) was re-designated the Institution for Mentally Defective Delinquent Women, a "sister institution" to Napanoch--the first such institution for women in the United States and probably in the world.

A month later, Dr. Gordon F. Willey became the first male to head the institution. On October 1, special trains began transporting Albion's "normals" down to Bedford Hills and bringing Bedford's defectives back on the return trip. In 1932, sensitive to stigmatizing, Albion reverted to the title of State Training School, but remained the state's institution for female defective delinquents.

Conditions in the 39-year-old institution were atrocious. The dorms were condemned as "a fire hazard," the rooms had no heating and plumbing was a rarity. After a 1932 investigation declared that the reception building was an "antique" and "a fire-trap of the most pronounced type," the Legislature allocated $1.5 million for reconstruction: three new brick dorms Each had a capacity of 120, were arranged around a quadrangle onto which faced a new administration building, school and other structures. (So collegiate did the rebuilt institution appeal that the superintendent received inquiries as to the entrance requirements.)

In 1957, the Western Reformatory for Women was also established at Albion. The reformatory used the same grounds and facilities as the Albion State Training School but they were managed as separate institutions. In 1967, a narcotic rehabilitation center also opened at Albion and was operated by the Narcotic Addiction Control Commission. In 1970, the reformatory was renamed the Western Correctional Facility and the training school renamed the Albion State Institution. In 1971, the entire facility became the Albion Correctional Facility. [1]