Connecticut Industrial School for Girls

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Connecticut Industrial School for Girls
Established 1868
Opened 1870
Closed 2003
Demolished 2005
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Middletown, CT
Alternate Names
  • Connecticut Industrial School for Friendless Girls
  • Long Lane School


In 1868, the state legislature approved the plans for the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls and began to search for a location. Middletown won the small contest -- Farmington provided the only serious competition -- in part because of its easy access by steamer down the Connecticut River, and its position halfway between the major cities of Hartford and New Haven. The industrial school joined other institutions which had previously been located in Middletown: the small city already housed the Connecticut Valley Hospital for the Insane and Wesleyan University.

The Connecticut Industrial School for Girls celebrated its grand opening in June of 1870; the response showed large public support for the new institution. Twenty-four inmates, "who, but for the school, would have been uncared for, and exposed to a terrible future," were already in residence at Middletown, and the superintendent expected the enrollment to soar past capacity levels. Contributors and dignitaries paraded around the grounds on a tour of the new buildings which had been funded by private donors, and listened to the words of several members of the new Board of Directors. The Connecticut Industrial School for Girls changed the ways in which state citizens thought about and dealt with female juvenile crime. The school became home to thousands of girls who would have otherwise slept in the street, at the county jail, or in an impoverished home.

In 1921 the state of Connecticut took over the school and changed the name to Long Lane Farm. Still a counterpart to the Reform School at Meriden, the institution continued to house delinquent girls. Gradual modifications in its program changed some of the goals of the school, and all of the old buildings were razed by the 1930s to make way for more modern structures. However, the basic program of removing potentially deviant children from their families and relocating them to a wholesome environment at the farm remained a constant and static feature of the institution.

By 1943 the state had changed the institution's name to the Long Lane School and in 1972, it Merged with the Connecticut School for Boys; all boys transferred from Meriden to the Long Lane facility. By 2003, the facility was closed as part of a state long-term plan to shutter all reform schools.

In late 2005, many of the Site buildings were razed. Wesleyan University currently operates administrative offices from the Cady School building, and grounds crews still utilize the maintenance garage and grounds workshop buildings. In March 2006, the University constructed an all-weather turf field in the area of the former high-security building on the east-central portion of the site. Future use of the Long Lane School Site will be for expansion of the Wesleyan University Campus.