This is the first in a series of three stories highlighting the history of the state Juvenile Corrections Center west of St. Anthony as it celebrates its centennial.
Saturday, the Idaho Juvenile Corrections Center west of St. Anthony will celebrate its 100-year birthday with an open house.
And it's been a long and interesting road from the start to the present.
The center started in 1903 as the Idaho Industrial Reform School after the Idaho Legislature passed a bill establishing an institution for the commitment of wayward youth.
According to information in "Snake River Echoes," a publication of the Upper Snake River Valley Historical Society, the state decided the school would be located two or three miles from St. Anthony.
The determining criteria was the fertility of the soil, unlimited supply of water and being near the metropolis of the county where water works and electric lights could be supplied at a very reasonable cost.
A tract of land one-half mile west of the city was chosen on 200 acres. The purchase price was $8,500, or about $42.50 per acre. A Tudor gothic style school building was built in 1904, with power, lighting and a heating plant located in the basement of the building.
The industrial department of the building included the carpenter's shop, shoe shop, steam laundry and cold storage. There was a culinary department in the rear of the basement, a chapel, public offices, dining rooms, dormitories, a sewing room, dressing room, shower and bath rooms and help's quarters in the building as well.
In 1905, the Legislature decided to change the name of the school d to the Idaho Industrial Training School. And the school began a social calendar designed to bring the kids into a better environment, according to "Echoes." The boys were allowed to go to town to watch a ball game between St. Anthony and Pocatello, and it was decided this was a successful experiment to show the group could go off campus without running away.
In 1911, the board of directors for the school purchased an additional 80 acres west of the school and had appropriated about $32,000 for this land and the construction of several more buildings on the original site. The shops would include a blacksmith shop, carpenter's shop, tailor shop, laundry and more. The boys were allowed to work on construction of these buildings under the direction of a supervisor.
Governor James H. Hawley suggested the school was "one of the greatest, if not the greatest, institution in the state."
The children at the school were taught practical and scientific farming, market gardening, horticulture, stationary and electric engineering, steam fitting, carpentry, masonry, concrete, irrigation, laundering, animal husbandry, dairying, sewing, domestic science, household economy, piano, voice, all stringed and wind instruments, elocution, public speaking, stenography, typewriting, commercial law, bookkeeping, pharmacy, nursing and athletics. Certainly, a variety of subjects kids these days would benefit from as well.
In the fall of 1923, the local newspaper noted there was a full operation of canning and dehydrating of food products to provide food for the officers and children of the school for the winter. Besides a garden, which provided fresh fruits and vegetables, the school also raised animals for meat at their facilities. There were chickens, rabbits, geese and ducks.
In July 1932 the state welfare director visited the school and noted they had 650 acres of land, with 600 under cultivation. There was a herd of 105 registered Holsteins which furnished plenty of milk and butter for the boys and girls. There were 235 boys at that time, and 70 girls.
The cost for maintenance of a student in the years 1941-1942 averaged $1070.11 per student. A survey taken for the boys and girls showed that most were admitted to the school for minor offenses, such as theft, truancy, incorrigibility and immorality for the boys. In the girls' cases, the most common causes were truancy, incorrigibility, theft and immorality.
A unique approach for the development of the youths at the school was initiated by Maurice Pratt, who took over as head of the school and who planned to make athletics one of the chief instruments in rehabilitating the delinquent youth. He proposed these programs developed healthy bodies, good sportsmanship and relieved the emotional tension generated through a program of nothing but work, study and discipline.
Pratt's philosophy was to have kindness replace discipline, but the emphasis was still to be on vocational training.
In 1953, 50 years after beginning,Winston Taylor became administrator. It was he who decided to bring in specialists trained in psychology, case workers and therapists, educators and vocational teachers. The idea behind this strategy was that through education, anyone could be made into a model citizen.
In the years since it started, things at the JCC, as it was later named, obviouly have changed greatly.
"The main focus now is to deal with criminal behavior and to be able to refocus strengths that the juveniles have into socially acceptable behavior and to try to confront their criminal thinking and behavior," says JCC Superintendent Jack Cordon.
He says that in the past, children were often placed at the center not only for criminal behavior, but because their parents placed them there because they were having difficulties with them or they were having trouble adjusting in the school setting.
He is also proud of the relationship the JCC has with the surrounding communities, something the center has not always had in the past.
Much of the information for this story is taken from information gathered for a JCC Centennial issue of "Snake River Echoes," a publication of the Upper Snake River Valley Historical Society.