On 11/12/07 Rob Lefebvre of The Anchor wrote:This time, I thought I would talk about a local place that is
supposedly haunted. The Ladd School, located in Exeter, is supposedly
one of the most haunted places in Rhode Island. It stands as a reminder
of a dark chapter in our long history.
The Ladd School, first known as the Exeter School for the Feeble Minded,
was founded in 1907 by Dr. William Gleason. It was built for schooling
youths who were mentally retarded, had some sort of mental or physical
disorder, (like epilepsy, hyperactivity, or a handicap) and socially
and/or morally delinquent. They were taught domestic sciences and farm
and factory work until they were considered well enough to be
integrated into society.
Over the first few decades of its existence, the school became over-crowded and under-staffed. It also gradually lost sight of being an educational facility and started becoming more of a disciplinary school, enforcing a very strict policy
that heavily used a detention, parole, and discharge pattern. Sometimes
the students were even referred to as "inmates."
By the 1950's, the school had come under serious question and scrutiny with much suspicion of abuse and neglect, medical or otherwise, of the students.
There was also a case of suspected murder that took place in the school
which brought on such attention. Dr. Joseph Ladd, the superintendent of
the school at the time, was forced into retirement due to the rumors.
Dr. John Smith became the new superintendent, but soon came under scrutiny
for the same reasons as Dr. Ladd. Also, he had the school renamed The
Ladd School, making people believe he would follow in Ladd's footsteps.
Smith would not retire despite the accusations throughout the 1960's
and 70's, the time of which the school had a populace of over 1,000.
Finally, the terrible conditions and policies were discovered in the
school. This resulted in a lawsuit against the State of Rhode Island
from a group called the Ladd School Parents Association. Dr. Smith was
relieved of his position as superintendent. The school was forced by a
judge to reduce its number of students to no more than 335, moving the
remaining students to other schools throughout Rhode Island.
In 1986, Governor Edward DiPrete announced that he planned on closing
the Ladd School after hearing of continuing abuse and negligence despite Smith's departure. In 1994, the school was closed for good.
During the 83 years of The Ladd School's operation, there were more than 5,000
residents. There were documented cases of mistreatment but there may
have been many more that were lost, or hidden, during the school's investigation.
In recent years, there have been numerous reports of hauntings at the school. People have heard voices that were whispering, talking, and even screaming. Some people claim to have been touched or grabbed when nobody else was around to do so. Others have reported being touched or hit with objects that they believe to have been wielded by ghosts. Upon entering the building, they find it to be very cold, dank, and uncomfortable.
Some things have been reported to have happened outside the school. Electronic devices like cameras and radios have been said to keep malfunctioning in the area. Others have claimed that their cars stall when they arrive or try to leave. There have even been reports of a "phantom car" that drives around the premesis.
The Ladd School and surrounding area is private property, so unless these people who made these reports had permission, they shouldn't have been there in the first place (just a little warning to those reading). The "phantom car" could actually have been a patrol car going around looking for possible trespassers. The noises heard around the building, such as the voices, could possibly be those of homeless people who have found their way into the school. It is intact for the most part and could accommodate such people to a certain degree. The radios malfunctioning could be due to the area just being one for bad reception, but the other devices not working properly is mysterious. It is said that spirits need to gather energy in order to form their being and they can take it from such devices, but other than that, there is no real explanation.
The Ladd School is a sad spot on our state's history and it still stands to remind us of how an innocent institution became so dark and cruel. None of us may ever know what took place in those halls but if spirits of the dead do indeed remain here, it must have been something very wrong; something they want us to know.
For more info, go to www.theladdschool.com
Haunted America - The Ladd School
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Join date: 2008-03-15
Location: Halifax NS
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