Western House of Refuge


Western House of Refuge, later State Industrial School, was created by New York State in 1846, and it opened its doors in 1849. It was located in the City of Rochester, west of Lake Avenue where Phelps Avenue and Backus Street intersected. When it opened, it had room for 50 juveniles, with the capacity brought to 400 six years later with additions.

In 1850, a state law was enacted that any young man under 16 could be committed to the Western House of Refuge for vagrancy or a criminal conviction by a court in Western New York.

In 1875, it was decided that the Western House of Refuge would also accept girls, with another building being built for them.

The Western House of Refuge continually expanded through the years, with expansion in facilities, policy, and number of inmates. It operated much like a child prison at first, whereas reform was brought in later years. The schooling was graded like regular school and not just two divisions of age.

The biggest change came in 1886 when it was renamed "State Industrial School".

In 1902, 1,000 acres of land were purchased south of Rochester in the town of Rush, and the institution was moved "out to the country".

Notes and References


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