History of Ellisville State School
The history of Ellisville State School is closely tied to the historical events that have shaped our nation and our state. In 1920, Governor Lee Russell signed the “Law of Mental Deficiency” establishing the “Mississippi School and Colony for the Feebleminded.” A site south of Ellisville, Mississippi was selected and the institution was opened in January of 1921. The original “colony” consisted of eight individuals who were transferred from Mississippi State Hospital. The original building on campus was a wood-frame commissary that was previously used by an area lumber company.
In 1922 a farmhouse was remodeled for individuals and a small hospital cottage was erected. The first school opened on campus that same year, with 20 of the 80 individuals on campus attending classes. The individuals also worked in the houses and laundry, as well as, the farm and garden areas. The population increased to 102 - all males - by 1923. Females were not allowed admission because no facilities were available to house them at that time. The first female dormitory was constructed in 1928 and by 1929 the population had increased to 239 with 51 males and 88 females.
In 1929, the name of the facility was changed to Ellisville State School. That was the year of the stock market crash. More than 150 individuals at Ellisville State School were released due to the budget deficit. However, by 1931 the population had grown to 319. Financial problems in 1933 saw the population drop to 269 as employees were discharged. Employees who stayed received a 50%-60% salary cut. After that, the population slowly began to increase and was back up to approximately 386 in 1941.
In 1961 Ellisville State School, along with the Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, used funds under the federal Hill-Burton Act to construct a rehabilitation facility on the campus. This program was jointly operated by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Ellisville State School. This new program provided training opportunities and vocational placement services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the state and established vocational training as a priority at Ellisville State School.
In the early 1970's Ellisville State School applied for and received millions
of dollars in federal grant money to establish needed programs
and services. By 1974 approximately 1,500 individuals resided at
Ellisville State School which had a staff population of only about
500. During the next several years the “deinstitutionalization
program” called for the establishment of community based apartments
and group homes. In addition, regional programs were opened across
Mississippi. These programs accepted individuals from Ellisville
whose families lived near the newer agencies.
In 1992 the first ICF/MR (Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded) licensed community home opened in Ellisville and housed ten females. The first Special Touch Training Center also opened at this time to provide vocational training to the individuals living in the community home. Over the next few years a total of sixteen additional ICF/MR licensed community homes were constructed in Ellisville, Waynesboro, Taylorsville, Sumrall, Richton, Prentiss, Columbus, Lumberton, and Bay Springs.
In 1995 the Home and Community Based Waiver Program was initiated for persons in their homes who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, provided they are Medicaid eligible and require a level of care similar to that received in an ICF/MR setting.
During the past few decades the population on the main campus has decreased as
more individuals moved to community living arrangements and programs
were established to provide services in the home. Ellisville State
School currently serves individuals living in twenty-three community
homes and one supervised apartment complex. Today, approximately
400 individuals reside on Ellisville State School’s main campus
while over 1,000 are served through community services. The facility
employs approximately 1,500 employees. The future of Ellisville
State School is tied closely to development of community programs
and services as more emphasis is put on providing services to individuals
while in the comfort of their own homes and natural environment.
This will ensure that vital services continue to reach all those
who need them and thus enhance their quality of life.