girls institutional school

Historical photos of girls institutional school, Delaware (Rathbone), ohio

Before the Civil War, part of the 89-acre site on the west bank of the Scioto River southwest of Delaware (eighteen miles north of Columbus) was occupied by White Sulphur Springs, a resort where people went to take advantage of sulfur spring water, which they believed had medicinal properties. The site had been in state hands since 1840 when the first State Reform School for Girls was established. In 1869, a new building was erected, and the facility was renamed the Girls’ Industrial School, housing girls between 7 and 16 years old. The institution was created by act of the Ohio General Assembly on March 5, 1869.

Over the years, the school has had several name changes: 1869-1872, State Reform and Industrial School for Girls; 1872-1878, Girls' Industrial Home; 1878-1965, Girls' Industrial School; after 1965, Scioto Village; and later, Riverview Juvenile Correctional Facility. The purpose of the school was "the reformation of exposed, helpless, evil disposed, and vicious girls." In 1878, the term "incorrigible" was added. The first six girls were admitted to the school in October, 1869.

On February 24, 1874, a fire destroyed several of the buildings, but the State of Ohio rebuilt the destroyed structures and, over the years, added several additional buildings. By the turn of the century, the home had 11 buildings, including eight cottages housing 40 to 50 girls each, designed according to the “Cottage Plan”, many by Frank Packard. Another fire in 1908 damaged one of the buildings.

Ohio Historical Society records show that girls there performed domestic chores and “learned various vocational trades, including basket-making, music, sewing and stenography. In the afternoons, the girls attended school, where they studied reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, geography, literature and U.S. history.” Some girls at the home died there, without anywhere else to go. Not far from the hospital was a small cemetery, the final resting place for girls who died during the influenza outbreak in the early 20th century.

In the 1960s, the home was placed under the auspices of the Ohio Youth Commission, where it remained until the Department of Youth Services took over in 1981. None of the original buildings remains on the site. DYS officials said the Delaware County facility was targeted for closing because of its age and the need for $5.6 million worth of repairs.