The Ladd School - Exeter Rhode Island

The Haunted The Ladd School

The History

The Ladd School was founded, by Dr. Joseph H. Ladd, in 1908, as a school for the “feeble-minded.” It became home to many criminals & “persons whose removal from the population was deemed a benefit to society” (as quoted from Haunted Places), which could just mean a promiscuous woman. The school was well known for horrible, immoral acts against its residents, such as forced sterilizations, and the patients themselves committed many criminal acts. By 1950 the population reached nearly one thousand. At this point they were over crowded and ill equipped. In fact, the school had no dental care, no morgue, no recreational facilities, no chapel and no functional medical apparatus. 

With a larger population of more severely disabled, younger inmates, the Exeter School’s shortage of qualified care-givers grew acutely more evident. As supervision became increasingly difficult, the infirm and helpless languished, and a new generation of defective delinquents grew bolder. In 1955, the situation finally reached a head when a 20-year-old inmate - a lifelong State ward and court-committed defective delinquent - was implicated in the murder of a severely disabled child. This occurred in the Howe Building, where a 9-year-old boy with severe retardation was suffocated inside a laundry sack suspended from a shower head  The scandal signaled the end of an era, prompting Dr. Ladd’s sudden resignation in 1956. Dr. John G. Smith took control of the facility. Two years later, an investigation was launched due to numerous allegations of abuse and neglect. The inquiry into the school's conduct and facilties showed that allegations were true to a terrifying degree. Due to the overcrowding, it was found that children slept head to feet, side by side, on cots that were placed nine inches apar. Many children were beaten routinely. Many of their rooms were not equipped with a sink and toilet. The entire facility was infested with vermin, including the kitchen and dining areas. Patients were given incorrect prescriptions and dosages. An elderly man died after being shoved down a stairwell by another patient. 

Over time, this deinstitutionalization movement gained enough momentum that in 1986, RI Governor Edward DiPrete announced the closing of the Ladd School. Nearly a decade after this landmark speech, the last few of its residents were relocated to alternative care facilities, and the institution shut its doors forever.

The Hauntings

Today, many locals declare that the abandoned school is haunted. Many have reported hearing moaning, phantom footseps or shuffling and crying throughout the main building and other surrounding buildings. Many have also claimed to hear disembodied voices murmuring, whispering or crying out. Doors have been seen opening or closing without explanation. These same doors also seem to lock at times even if thre is no lock on the door itself.  Eerie growling sounds have been heard in patients' former rooms, when no animals are present. Some visitors here have also claimed they were touched, shoved, or they've had items knocked out of their hands by some unseen force. Outside of the facility, visitors have claimed to see human shaped shadows moving across the field and into the woods. Voices have been heard out there as well and many have photographed glowing orbs. Car radios are said to go haywire or stop working all together and a few people have claimed that their car alarms or horns have gone off for no reason. 

All in all,the Ladd School was a living nightmare for its many patients. It is no wonder that many of these residents still roam the halls even after their death. Unfortunately, these poor Restless souls will probably always remain here; wandering the desolate halls alone and crying out for help that will never come. 

The Ladd School
176 Main Street
Exeter, Rhode Island

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