Sonoma Developmental Center

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Sonoma Developmental Center--Main Building
Sonoma State Home, Main Building, 15000 Arnold Dr., Eldridge, CA 6-12-2010 6-03-39 PM.JPG
Sonoma Developmental Center is located in California
Sonoma Developmental Center
Sonoma Developmental Center is located in the US
Sonoma Developmental Center
Location 15000 Arnold Drive
Eldridge, California
Coordinates 38°20′50″N 122°31′7″W / 38.34722°N 122.51861°W / 38.34722; -122.51861Coordinates: 38°20′50″N 122°31′7″W / 38.34722°N 122.51861°W / 38.34722; -122.51861
Area 1,670 acres (7 km2)
NRHP reference # 00001180
Added to NRHP October 6, 2000

The Sonoma Developmental Center is a large, state-run facility in California, United States, serving the needs of people with developmental disabilities. It is located in Eldridge in Sonoma County.


It opened at its current location on November 24, 1891, though it had existed at previous locations in Vallejo and Santa Clara since 1884.[1]

The facility's current name dates from 1986. Former names include:[2]

  • California Home for the Care and Training of Feeble Minded Children (1883)
  • Sonoma State Home (1909)
  • Sonoma State Hospital (1953)


1883 - First home opened at White Sulphur Springs near Vallejo.

1884 - Fasking Park, Alameda County.

1885-1891 - The Home was located in Santa Clara, California, near the intersection of Market and Washington Street.

1891 - A new site for the Home was purchased from former State Senator William Hill for $51,000. Two railroads ran through the site until World War II. The superintendent was Dr. Antrim Edgar Osborn.


1891- Antrim Edgar Osborn, M.D.

1900 - William. P. Lawlor, M.D.

1903 - W. J. G. Dawson, M.D.

1919 - Frederick Otis Butler, M.D.

1949 -

1918 - A Spanish influenza epidemic killed dozens of inmates. Dr. Lawlor was also killed.

The Home had primarily four types of residents: the mentally handicapped, the epileptic, the physically disabled, and the "psychopathic delinquent." From almost the start, the Home was overcrowded.

2000 - Main building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.[3]

Research Resources

The State Archive in Sacramento have extensive holdings on the early history of the Home. Including patient registers, photographs, maps, and records. The Gosney Archive at Caltech in Pasadena, CA contains information about sterilization from the 1920s. The SDC does have some historical resources, but these are not open to the general public.


[4] [5]

Fictional Works

  • The Center provided the setting for Jack London's short story "Told in the Drooling Ward" (1914).[6]
  • The book In All Things: A Return to the Drooling Ward[7] is a fictionalized account based on the author's experiences while training as a psychiatric technician at the former hospital.

See also


  1. ^ "History of Sonoma Developmental Center". 
  2. ^ "National Register #00001180: Sonoma State Home in Eldridge, California". Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  3. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings October 13, 2000". Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  4. ^ Miroslava Chavez-Garcia (21 February 2012). States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System. University of California Press. pp. 126–. ISBN 978-0-520-95155-6. 
  5. ^ California. Office of State Controller (1912). Annual Report of the State Controller, State of California, for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30 ... Office of the Controller, State of California. 
  6. ^ Wiley, Walt (1988-11-19). "Bookstore for Jack London Lovers". Lodi News-Sentinel. p. 7. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  7. ^ Kirkus Review. "In All Things: A Return to the Drooling Ward". Retrieved November 24, 2014. 

External links

  • California Department of Developmental Services

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