Rainier School - PhMuseum

Rainier School

Steve Davis

2005 - 2007

Washington, United States; Buckley, Washington, United States

Rainier School is a state operated institution for the developmentally disabled, not far from Seattle at the base of beautiful Mount Rainier. The “school” in Rainier School disappeared years ago. There are no more young people. Many of its residents have lived there for their entire lives. They have been betrayed by their minds, and in many cases, their bodies. Most of its residents are now elderly and this extensive campus (complete with pool, bowling alley, restaurant and its own farm) is now home to only about 370 people--about 20% of its peak capacity.

My objective was to document the final days of a school-turned rest home. In a sense, it is a carefully monitored prison. In another, it is a charming country club. Nowadays, as we avoid the institutionalization of the developmentally disabled, Rainier School and many similar facilities are the victims of our social progress. These images represent the end days of a major public commitment, and the unique culture it created.

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