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Citizens donated $3200 to purchase 640 acres, three miles southeast of Abilene and the land was given to the state for the colony.
The site was chosen due to close access to the railroad, which made it easy to receive building materials and patients. The acreage was used to raise animals and crops for food and for homes and administrative offices. The colony cost $200,000 to build. The original institution was an administration building, power plant, women's hospital, men's hospital, four resident cottages and the superintendent's residence. Two weeks before the school opened, the water tower fell and left the colony without water. A temporary tower was erected, but supplied only enough water for 1/3 of the patients. It was not replaced with a standpipe until six years later.