Historic Hood River
Aerial View to a Tragedy
This Laraway image from Glenwood, Iowa tells an amazing tale. We know it is from 1903 or earlier because it predates tornado damage to the buildings below, which means it must have been taken from a hot air balloon. That’s a pretty good story by itself. But the scene tells a far more tragic tale. The complex of buildings at the bottom of the frame was the Iowa Institution For Feeble-Minded Children. The two large buildings were the boys’ and girls’ dormitories.
The facility started as a home for Civil War orphans– in fact this is where Billy Sunday lived as a child. In 1876 it was converted into an institution for the “feeble-minded” children, and later adults were housed there too. The 1903 tornado killed two children. Its long history included severe overcrowding, forced sterilizations, experimentation on patients, and other activities which led the US Department of Justice to conclude it violated the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. You can read all about its sad history here.