Some old, rickety buildings have been demolished at the Utah State Training School, and though their demise ends a piece of history, it's also a sign of the school's commitment to a more modern philosophy.
The buildings, affectionately called Iris and Violet, were among the first structures built at the school when it opened in the 1930s. Until about a year ago, they were used as residential housing at the school for severely mentally and physically handicapped youngsters.But time weathered the buildings to the point that administrators felt they were unsafe. They no longer meet fire safety codes, either, and though they have been used for office space in recent months, school clients cannot live in them.
Superintendent Jerry Dandoy said some longtime training school employees felt a little melancholy when the buildings were torn down during the weekend, but renovating them would have cost several hundred thousand dollars.
"It was hard for a number of people. Those buildings reminded people of the history of the training school, but they also represented the archaic ways of the old days," he said. "We've become much more sophisticated and humanistic in our approach to clients."
The buildings actually dictated some of those old ways, because they were three stories high and had no elevators, making it difficult for physically handicapped clients to get around. The residential units that have been used at the school for more than a year now have only one story.
In the old days Iris and Violet, along with two other buildings that were demolished in 1987, housed about 100 students each, and the staff-to-student ratio was one to 35. Today, the residential buildings house 16 to 64 students each, with a one-to-5 ratio, Dandoy said.
The area where the old buildings stood is in the center of campus and administrators have not decided what to do with the space yet. They may build a parking lot or simply landscape the area, depending on the school's budget.