The Fairview Training Center May Have The Darkest History in Oregon

fairview training center

Update October 2019: The previously abandoned buildings as shown in this article no longer exist. The property where the once Fairview Training Center existed is private property. This historical article is for informational purposes only. Please do not visit the property without express permission from the landowner.

As reported by the Statesman Journal in September of 2019, Salem developers have started their plans to build rental apartments.

A rendering of The Grove, an apartment complex coming to the former Fairview Training Center site in southeast Salem. (Photo: Courtesy of Mountain West Investment Corp.)

Fairview was established in 1907 as the State Institution for the Feeble-Minded. The hospital opened on December 1, 1908, with 39 patients transferred from the Oregon State Insane Asylum.

The Fairview Training Center was a state-run facility for people with developmental disabilities in Salem, Oregon

The unspeakable things that took place at this facility, which has a very dark history, will make the hairs rise on your neck. Recently, Danielle Denham, an amazing photographer(ThePDXPhotographer) in Portland shared with us some photos recently taken at the now abandoned facility which we have included in this article.

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In 1981, more than 1,300 Oregonians with developmental disabilities lived at the Fairview Training Center in Salem, where for decades they were known as "inmates." Prior residents at Fairview tell stories of being disciplined with leather cuffs, razor straps, cow whips, and even put in isolation cages.



More than 2,600 forced sterilizations took place at Fairview—and that's not all. Vasectomies, forced hysterectomies, tubal ligations, and even castrations were requirements for patients to leave up through the late 70s. In 2002, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber issued a formal apology for these human rights violations.

A Fairview resident described being disciplined with razor strops: "It stings really bad." Others recalled:

"They were strict at Fairview. You got beat up, yelled at. They put us in closets."

"They used their shoes to spank us also."

"If you don't behave yourself, they'd get you with the scalding hot water."

RELATED: A Photographer’s Journey to Capturing Over 250 Old Schoolhouses in Oregon

fairview training center

Kitzhaber also acknowledged other abuses. "Until the mid-1980s, if you could believe that, the staff of the institutions commonly used inhumane devices to restrain or control patients, including leather cuffs and helmets and straitjackets and inappropriately high dosages of sedatives and psychotropic medications," he said.

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in 1980, a graduate student who was assigned to work at Fairview described horrific tales of residents being handcuffed to 60-pound blocks and forced to push them up and down the hall. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology found that between 1963 and 1987, residents of Fairview were more than twice as likely to die from unnatural causes as people in Marion County who were not institutionalized.


When the U.S. Department of Justice and the Health Care Financing Administration finally investigated the horrible abuse that took place at the Fairview Training Center, they were appalled by the horrors. Federal funding was immediately yanked, and pressure from advocates and the government finally developed a long-term plan to permanently close the doors at Fairview.






Before its closure in 2000, Fairview was administered by the Oregon Department of Human Services. At 1:15 p.m. on Feb. 24, 2000, the last resident left Fairview to begin his life in the community. DHS continued to operate the Eastern Oregon Training Center in Pendleton until October 2009.

We'd like to thank Danielle Denham for providing these photos. If you'd like to see some more of her great work, she features some pretty awesome abandon buildings all over Oregon. You can find her on Facebook at ThePDXPhotographer.

Read the full story on Fairview at The Oregonian

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  1. My Grandmother worked there for a time. She would never talk about work, never discussed why she quit, and years later would only say she wished she’d never taken the job. By contrast my mom worked in one of the cafeterias at the Oregon State Hospital for years in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. I used to visit her frequently at work, and it was nothing like the descriptions of Fairview. OSH was institutional, but the patients seemed to have a lot more freedom to move around, and just be themselves. Mom became friends with a number of the patients and said she liked many of them better than so-called “sane” people.

  2. My sister was an ‘inmate’ there for most of her life. My mother in law and husband both worked there for awhile. I hated going there to visit as a child. I hated that she was there. When the residents would get in a fight, as often happened, the aids would just stand back and watch so they themselves would not get hurt. We picked her up for a day visit once and she had just been beaten by a gang of patients. They beat and kicked her in the face and when we arrived her nose was broken and her nose, mouth, and eyes were split open. It was horrific! When she came home for a weekend she would have half a lunch sack of medications with her and was often in a catatonic state. But, the state did them no favors when they closed Fairview. They were sent to group homes and other places. She had been in Fairview for nearly 30 years and was suddenly supposed to go get a job and learn to pay bills etc. That would have been fine with some training over time. The depression of being thrown into the real world nearly killed her. It was almost as bad as having been in Fairview. She is now 65 years old, lives in a group home, and loves spending time with family. The stories of straightjackets and padded cells are all true. I could tell you stories that would bring you to tears as I was for years.

  3. Guess what, most those jerks that worked there and law enforcement that “looked the other way” still work for DHS and the Department of Justice in Salem. They just recirculated the bad ones
    with top jobs. Lets not forget Kitzhaber is a sex offender and has skated punishment because money and position in politics. Perfect article and its actually true.

  4. What a terrible memory I have of all these institutions in Salem. I went to Parrish middle and North High schools. I would walk home via east on D st. Almost every day near the same time I would hear horrific screams coming from the mental hospital…. one day my cousin and I decided to get closer to the building (there was a big field separating D and the building.) as we got closer I could hear someone screaming ” Oh God, please No! Don’t put me in there! Oh God please No!” “And then Help me someone please help me!” The whole place was surrounded by chain link fencing and barb wire! So dam sad. 35 years later I still can remember that poor soul crying out for help. I would tell my family but they would just say to stay away from there. Lots of times I would hear a bell ring and they would let everyone out into the yard. A lot of the people just had a blank stare on their faces with dark eyes, staring off into nothing. Others were angry and would cus and yell at each other. Such a sad sad place.

  5. My children’s great grandfather worked at the buildings on center st. He assisted with a lot of the lobotomys and also the torture methods. He was a really kind hearted person to my kids. But he was also tough as nails and convinced that most of those people were not able to be saved and that was the only thing possible to keep them in line. He would come home and cry sometimes about the things he had done. They lived just down the street from the buildings on center st and from the state prison. He said there are many tunnels underneath the roads and buildings all connecting to one another. Sometime the patients would escape and they would have to go on a manhunt in the tunnels to find them.

  6. And Fairview! When I was 20 something I appled for a job there.No experience nessisary, Said the ad. I put in my application and got an interview. During the interview I was given a short tour of an area. I musta had a scared look on my face because the lady doing the interview said to me “okay this is over.. you are too nice for the job. We need someone bigger than you and tougher too” thank you Jesus that I wasn’t caught up getting a job in that place.

  7. At my first job in St. Helens, OR (about thirty years ago) I worked with some former inmates of Fairview. All of them had PTSD. They told me some pretty horrific stories of the place. Two of them had a supposed history of biting staff– they had all their front teeth removed while at Fairview.

  8. My sister lived here up until her untimely death. She got upset and walked off the premisis, just to be picked up by a man who had a criminal back ground of raping women and molesting young girls. Janie was fiesty but not fiesty enough to keep her attacker from murdering her. Her case was just solved and a news release was posted today. Seeing these pictures just really her situation even more sad. I’m glad the training center no longer exist.

  9. I lived in Oregon for 17 years and I worked in a nursing home as a laundry aid and I would hear the CNA’s talking about this place. Nothing like what I am reading here, but they were wondering where the patients were going to go, etc.

  10. My brother spent 37 years at FTC and I had also worked there for a year. The transfer trauma of leaving was herendous the group homes. …. He has been in are even worse than FTC he has been raped anally chemically restrained to the point of almost death bwith haldol malnourished to the point of 3 days on !ifesupport and a bed sore that went com a 1 to a 4 that required 169 staples and 2 JP drains….they had him so jacked up on psgchotrophic drugs that he was aspirating and they wanted to put in a g tube. I fought r state over 5 years to get to bring him hone to live with me making protective service complaints that would come back unfounded even though ere were medical records to support my claims of abuse neglect. Lane county is harsh when it comes to community support for any kind of social service support. The passr and dhs really has really opened my eyes to how unfrieñdly it is for dd population to be in main stream society. I have found you can not access nursing homes with a dd or mental health DX unless you are dying. Dhs recovery unit wanted 30000.00 from my brothers ssi for recovery of the bedsore decubitus he got because Springfield police failed todosafety checks when asked mark phinney lane county protective services failed to investigate claims telew MD just kept adding chemical restraint the point of haldol toxicity and 17 days I the hospital. Trillium insurance…….more discriminatory than any one employees sta

  11. Trillium states due to DX of dd and his age he is unable to learn language. He just happens to go to u of o hearing and !language clinic and he has gone from level two to Kevel 7.they also are denying adaptive equipment needed to go to school which again is against the law but they are getting áway with it thanks to judge conover at lane county courts. My hurt has been turned to anger and a all out battle to get civil rights equity and to expose people who victimize e lesser population. I have been extremely busy making complaints to Washington DC turning lawyers in to OSB turning judges into musical fitness and writing s book about y brothers trip home…..and how he is still being treated unfairly and all the harm he has gone trough my heart goes out to all the others whoareinthese group homes and have no advocates do not be fooled e same stuff that was happening. At Fairview is happening in group homes the difference…group homes do not get shut down or money pulled and if they do they have the money they collect as rent to help cushín the blow. Group homes are making so much money….they get fed dollars state dollars and clients disability checks than what ever they raise on e side. It is sickening… To see clients give up their disability slotmnet to go around in holey stained clothes not get community integration not be feed well rounded nutritious meals……my a time favorite response…..oh he does not know he will not care….this is for medical treatment…we’ll by good I am z family member and it does matter to me and I know and they will give him e medical testing and treatments everyone else gets or to court we go even if I lose we go and letters to the editor complaints to civil rights and o agency I find. My brother has been wit me almost two years and I want his golden years to be his best……what I advocate for him I hope will have a impact for others who are in the system. What also gets me……they have him profoundly d d in records even th9ugh I have proven he is able to communicate and is not profound no one will change the records. He also was is not epileptic how he got in ftc with just s hearing problem and being mute wow. My parents will not share his story with me so I have been researching on my own. Siso had his black FTC book and has lost it!!!!!his whole life from age of 5 on was in that book. So sad. But my book will share what I can dig up in medical records and other resources he is a warrior in myeyes for surviving the life he was given the book is my way of honoring him so when he dies his legacy lives on having no heir’s. The fight for justice human rights and equality is not over my friends it is just beginning!!!!!