One thing I absolutely love about traveling is that it provides me with a constant source of education. Over the weekend, I attended The 4th Annual Spyder Rendezvous in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin with my husband. Heavy rain prevented me from riding with the group on Friday. I admit it, I’m a wimp and my dry car provided a comfortable alternative for the day’s travels. I spent some time exploring St Coletta Jefferson Wisconsin.
A local told me to head to Rock River in Jefferson and walk along the dam. Which, my travel partner and I did. The gold nugget of the day wasn’t the dam, the river, or even the town of Jefferson. Although, it did happen to be located in Jefferson, County. It was St Coletta Jefferson Wisconsin.
First Stop Over Look the Rock and Crawfish Rivers in Jefferson, Wisconsin
Our first stop was along the Rock River / Crawfish River in Jefferson, Wisconsin. Nice stop to get out and stretch your legs. The walkway along the river has a pedestrian and bike bridge that you can cross and watch the carp jump and swim in the river.
Following the path along the river will take you down to the dam. It was a short stop on my quest to occupy some of the time we had to kill. At some point, I would like to go back and explore the city a little further. The architecture of the homes and business’ interest me. Exploring all the city has to offer would take me a few hours. Hours, I didn’t have today.
St. Coletta Institute for Backward Youth in Jefferson Wisconsin
Driving back to our event I ran into St Coletta Jefferson Wisconsin. I have lived in Wisconsin my entire life and I had NEVER knew this building existed or heard the history behind it! As a history buff, it is most certainly something that I should have learned over the years.
But, alas; I got schooled by my Illinois travel partner; Lori. After my shriek of joy for finding such a lovely building and my quick pull off from the roadway.; Lori told me Rosemary Kennedy had been a patient here. Of course, besides the sheer beauty of the old building – I needed to see it up close even more after hearing some background information.
St. Coletta Institute for Backward Youth, was a medical, residential, and educational institution for the developmentally disabled. It was organized by the sisters of St. Francis Assisi in 1904 at the behest of Father George Meyer of St. Lawrence Catholic Church. They accepted four families’ requests to care for their mentally disabled children. The property immediately east of the City of Jefferson was purchased because of the existing convent and school for girls operated by Franciscan nuns at the church.
By the early twentieth century, a large campus of residence halls, chapels, an infirmary, administration building, classrooms, and natatorium occupied the southeast corner of Highway 18 and County Road Y in the Town of Jefferson.
The building stands empty, with a few broken windows, no trespassing signs plastered around the grounds and even some window screens stuck up in trees. We decided that further outside viewing of the building was in order.
This is a building I would love to see the interior of. With the signs – well, not too sure they would take to kindly to it. I’m not one that breaks the law – I bend it. The outside shots were enough for the history sake for me.
Walking around the pavement bordering the building was enough for the day for me though. It was just enough to satisfy my curiosity.
We walked around the front and side of the building on our way up to the church and graveyard. Our main purpose was to get to the top of the hill for the graveyard and church. Or, at least that was my reasoning for bending the trespassing law. You can’t get to the graveyard without going on the institute property. The skies sure did give off an eerie feeling.
Rose Marie “Rosemary” Kennedy
(September 13, 1918 – January 7, 2005) was the oldest daughter born to Joseph, Sr and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, and the sister of President John F Kennedy, and Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy.
Rosemary displayed behavioral problems, resulting in less academic and sporting ability than her siblings. Her father arranged one of the first prefrontal lobotomies for her at the age of 23, but it failed and left her incapacitated permanently. Rosemary spent the rest of her life at St Coletta Jefferson Wisconsin, with minimal contact from her family and well kept secret from the community in which she lived in for many years.
Rosemary Kennedy didn’t live on the premises because her father traveled to the area and built a private house for her about a mile outside St. Coletta’s main campus near Alverno House. Which was designed for adults who needed lifelong care. The nuns called the house “the Kennedy cottage”. Two Catholic nuns, Sister Margaret Ann and Sister Leona, provided her care along with a student and a woman who worked on ceramics with Rosemary three nights a week.
It is said that Rosemary’s condition may have inspired her sister, Eunice, to initiate the Special Olympics during 1962.
The Best Part of My Photography Travels Is…
I never know where I will end up; what I will learn, or the people and /or communities along the way that will leave an impression on my heart. The St. Coletta Institute for Backward Youth in Jefferson Wisconsin most certainly has left an impact on my heart. They cared for children and adults that couldn’t do it for themselves in a world that looked upon them differently back in the day. My heart finds comfort hearing the stories over the weekend that I did when I asked about the buildings history. Thoughts of gardening, arts and providing a good home outside of their traditional homes filled my heart with joy. A little community with huge hearts and a well kept secret for many years.