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A School For The Developmentally Disabled In Wisconsin Stands Empty…And Is Oddly Chilling

The story of St. Coletta of Jefferson, Wisconsin is one that ties American history and medicine with deep personal tragedy.

This school for the developmentally disabled is now an abandoned shell. Though the students have moved away, the haunting story of one of its most famous residents is still chillingly tragic.

St. Coletta was founded by the Sister of St. Francis Assisi-Milwaukee. During the school’s prime between 1970 and 1980, it housed over 600 students and patients.

The institution originally went by the name “St. Coletta School for Backward Youth.” This was mercifully changed to “St. Coletta School for Exceptional Children” in 1931.

Rosemary Kennedy was certainly the most famous patient at St. Coletta. She was the sister of President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, and the oldest daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy.

Her letters and diaries speak to her great charm, warmth and love of life. When Rosemary was 22, she wrote a missive to her father that began: “Darling Daddy, I am so fond of you. And I love you so very much.” In journal entries, she writes about her excitement to attend dances and meet with her friends.

Went she entered puberty, Rosemary suffered mood swings that her family found difficult to deal with. At the age of 23, she underwent a lobotomy.

The lobotomy was disastrous. Instead of reversing her mood swings, the procedure left her completely incapacitated. She could no longer speak or care for her bodily functions. She remained at the Wisconsin institution until her death on January 7, 2005.

Today, St. Coletta continues to operate out of another property. The original building sits abandoned and overgrown. It is reported that Rosemary and all the patients at St. Coletta were treated with care and respect, but the haunting legacy of a young woman’s life cut short still clings to the crumbling bricks.

Check out this footage of the original building that was filmed by a former student of St. Coletta.

What do you think of this haunting abandoned school?

Sophia
Massachusetts native. Freelance writer and strawberry eater. Get in touch: smitrokostas@onlyinyourstate.com.