One Day Too Late

The Abandoned Ladd School

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Let me start this off by saying that this was a spontaneous visit. We didn’t really plan on searching for this lost legend, it just happened to be on our way. Rhode Island is one of my favorite places to visit in all of New England. I make several trips a year up there to work on movies, but its rare we go up there together to explore abandoned places. We had just finished our exploration of the Enchanted Forest, and were on our way to an audition of mine. I had heard many stories about the Ladd School. Some said that it had been demolished years ago. Others said that pieces of it still stood. A quick stop at Google Maps and around the web proved to be inconclusive. Some said it had been destroyed. Others said that certain buildings could still be seen and explored. With its location a mere stone’s throw away from us, we decided to check it out. It appears now that we were too late.

Much like most mental institutions in the area, the Ladd School has seen many different names and purposes over the years. Before earning its current name, the facility was formerly known as “The Exeter School” and “The Rhode Island School for the Feeble Minded.” Opening in the early 1900’s, the institution began as an experimental program to train the intellectually disabled on basic life and farm skills. But over the years the Ladd School evolved into something else entirely. Unfortunately, much like most similar institutions, she suffered from overcrowding, public disapproval, and scandals. She limped on up until 1993, when her doors were finally closed for good. For years, she was left empty and desolate. She became a hotspot for local ghost hunters and independent film makers. The order for her demolition finally came a few years later. Certain buildings were razed, others found life by being re-purposed.

When we arrived on the grounds on that chilly early March day, it was hard to believe that this was once one of the most well known schools in the area. The grounds are unrecognizable today. We drive around for a long time without finding anything that even resembling the stories we had read. There was a large soccer field there. A few multi-purpose buildings stood around. Large groups of people were jogging and/or walking around the grounds. We almost thought we were in the wrong place. Until we came upon a quiet pocket of the area. Standing far off from any visitors was a memorial for the old grounds. Protected by a stone wall, it almost looked like a graveyard. But in the center of it all sits a plaque detailing the history of the Ladd School. It appears that this may be all that is left of the now famous school. There may be more evidence out there, but we weren’t able to find it. It seems that the old Ladd School is gone. All that remains is this quiet memorial, and memories long since passed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s