Waco State Home

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Waco State Home
Established 1919
Opened 1923
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Waco, TX
Alternate Names
  • State Home for Dependent and Neglected Children
  • Waco Center for Youth (Current0


The Waco State Home, three miles northwest of the business section of Waco, was established as the State Home for Dependent and Neglected Children by the Thirty-sixth Legislature in 1919. A tract of ninety-five acres was purchased for the site of the institution, and a board of trustees, made up of three citizens, was appointed by Governor William P. Hobby. About 1930 the Board of Control was placed in charge of the home. The name was changed to Waco State Home by the Forty-fifth Legislature. In 1945 there were 276 boys and girls enrolled at the home and capacity was 364. Children between four and sixteen years of age, adjudged by district courts to be dependent or neglected, were admitted to the home for care, education, and training, with "preference to those children of tender age," according to law.

No mentally or physically handicapped child was accepted, and no child who was known to have violated the law habitually was admitted. Care of indigents was free, while transportation, clothing, and a charge of not more than $5.00 per week were required of children having sufficient estates or persons legally liable for their support who were financially able to pay. All admissions and discharges were handled through a sociologist. Adoptions from the home were permitted. Educational, religious, and physical training was given to the students. The home lay within an independent school district, and its school was conducted on the grounds with the support of the state school apportionment.

Upon completion of the eight grades taught at the home, children entered Waco High School. The older boys assisted with farm, garden, and dairy work, and the older girls with laundry, housekeeping, and dining room. Children were permitted to earn small sums of money and were allowed personal ownership. A complete medical history of each child was kept. In addition to the original tract purchased, the home leased a 235-acre farm. Equipment and buildings, including a separate hospital, were modern. E. B. McMordie, the first superintendent, was followed by Miss Jennie Burleson, Judge R. R. Patterson, and Arthur C. Wiebusch. Ben S. Peek became superintendent in 1943. Waco State Home was placed under the administration of the Texas Youth Commission by the Fifty-fifth Texas Legislature.

On August 31, 1965, the multiservice program of the home was caring for 288 children. Of this number 239 were in residence at the home, 10 were in paid foster homes, and 38 were either with relatives on temporary home trial placements, in preadoptive placements, in free foster homes, in job placements, or in college. In 1970 there were 300 children in the home, and those of scholastic age attended Waco public schools on an annual contract basis, rather than attending school on the grounds. The superintendent at that time was J. Ludwick. In 1979 the Texas Youth Commission transferred control of the Waco State Home to the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. MHMR reorganized the facility into a treatment center for emotionally disturbed children named the Waco Center for Youth.[1]



We Were Not Orphans: Stories from the Waco State Home by Sherry Matthews