Ladd School: A Haunted Heritage and Legacy of Mystery in Rhode Island

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 19 January 2024
  • Time to read: 7 min.


Get ready to dive into the spooky past of Ladd School in Rhode Island!

This place isn’t just any school – it’s a mystery-filled adventure waiting to be explored. Ghost stories, strange happenings, and a history that’s more than meets the eye.

Join us as we dig up the chilling tales and uncover the mysteries that make Ladd School an unforgettable journey into the unknown!


The Ladd School, originally known as the Rhode Island School for the Feeble-Minded, was a state institution located in Exeter, Rhode Island, USA. It was established in 1907 to provide care, education, and vocational training for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The school was named after Dr. William W. Ladd, a prominent advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

In its early years, the Ladd School aimed to create a compassionate and supportive environment for its residents, offering them a place where they could receive proper care and specialized education. However, over the decades, the school faced challenges such as overcrowding and underfunding, which led to a decline in the quality of care provided.

By the mid-20th century, the Ladd School became synonymous with controversies and reports of alleged abuse and neglect. The institution faced increasing scrutiny from the public and advocacy groups, which called for better living conditions and treatment for the residents.

As society’s attitudes towards individuals with disabilities evolved, the need for large, institutionalized facilities like the Ladd School diminished. By the 1980s, a shift towards community-based care and inclusive education gained momentum, leading to a decline in enrollment at the Ladd School. Finally, in 1994, the school was officially closed, marking the end of an era for institutional care of individuals with disabilities in Rhode Island.

Today, the former Ladd School site serves as a poignant reminder of the past, with some of the buildings having been demolished, while others remain as a testament to the institution’s storied history. Efforts have been made to preserve the remaining structures as historical landmarks, offering a glimpse into the challenging and complex history of the Ladd School. The site has also gained attention from paranormal enthusiasts and ghost hunters, who claim to have experienced eerie encounters and unexplained phenomena at the location.

Paranormal | Haunted

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

The Ladd School, also known as the Dr. Joseph H. Ladd School, is shrouded in a history of controversy and alleged paranormal activities. This institution, located in Exeter, Rhode Island, was originally established in 1908 as a facility for the care of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Over the years, numerous reports of mistreatment and neglect have surfaced, making it a site of interest for paranormal enthusiasts and ghost hunters.

The abandoned buildings of the Ladd School are said to be haunted by the spirits of those who suffered within its walls, and visitors have claimed to experience chilling encounters and unexplained phenomena.

9 Year Old Ghost

In 1955, the haunting corridors of Ladd School bore witness to a heart-wrenching tragedy that would forever stain its history. A 20-year-old inmate, a lifelong State ward and court-committed defective delinquent, stood implicated in a shocking act of brutality – the murder of a severely disabled child.

Inside the chilling walls of the Howe Building, a 9-year-old boy, his life marred by severe retardation, met a harrowing end as he was suffocated within a laundry sack, cruelly suspended from a shower head. The echoes of his innocence lost reverberated through the ages, leaving behind a restless spirit seeking solace and justice.

The spirit of the innocent child lingers, forever seeking justice and leaving an indelible mark on the school’s dark history. But that’s not all – delve deeper into the archives, and you’ll uncover a web of scandals and horrors that plagued the school throughout the years.

Read Also: Conjuring House

The Crying Spirits

Step into the abandoned halls of Ladd School, where echoes of sorrow still linger. Locals speak of moaning, phantom footsteps, and cries resonating through the main building and its surroundings. Disembodied voices murmur and whisper, as if the spirits of the past yearn to communicate from beyond.

Witness doors mysteriously opening and closing, sometimes locking themselves without any physical means. Eerie growls emanate from empty rooms, while visitors claim to have been touched or shoved by unseen forces, leaving a chilling reminder of the restless souls that roam this haunted place.

Shadows of the Past

As twilight descends upon the grounds of Ladd School, eerie shadows begin to dance across the fields and into the depths of the woods. Witnesses claim to have seen human-shaped silhouettes, moving silently as if reliving their tragic pasts.

Haunting voices echo through the night, carrying secrets of the forgotten. Brave souls have captured glowing orbs on camera, capturing glimpses of the ethereal realm that lies just beyond the mortal world.

Credit: lost_new_england

The Malevolent Presence

Beware the malevolent force that lurks within Ladd School. Visitors have witnessed car radios going haywire or ceasing to work entirely, as if the spirits tamper with modern technology.

Some unfortunate souls report their car alarms or horns blaring for no apparent reason, leaving them unsettled and questioning the paranormal forces at play. The presence seems to taunt and torment those who dare to venture close, leaving a sense of dread and unease.

The Touch of the Unknown

For those who dare to explore the confines of Ladd School, the touch of the unknown awaits. Visitors have shared chilling encounters of being touched, shoved, or having their belongings knocked away by unseen hands. The spirits seem restless, seeking to connect with the living world, leaving behind a trail of spine-tingling experiences that stay etched in the memory of all who cross their path.

The legends surrounding the Ladd School are as diverse as they are haunting. These tales of sorrow, compassion, and mystery have woven themselves into the fabric of the institution’s history, preserving the memories of those who endured its troubled past. Whether rooted in fact or fueled by imagination, these legends continue to draw in paranormal enthusiasts and curious visitors, each seeking to uncover the enigmatic truths that lie within the walls of the Ladd School.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage

Explore the enigmatic world of Ladd School, where celebrated history meets eerie allure. This haunted grounds has taken the spotlight in numerous TV shows and documentaries, diving deep into the realm of the paranormal. “Eternal Enigmas: Unraveling Haunted Legends” sheds light on chilling encounters and ghostly tales that shroud the school in mystery.

Unearth the supernatural stories with books like “Exeter Girls: Letters from a Feeble-Minded” by Jason R Carpenter  and Ladd School and the Eugenics movement by  Kelly Sullivan Pezza. These captivating narratives bring restless spirits to life, leaving you spellbound.

Be part of history and the unexplained as the School becomes a must-visit destination for history buffs and the bravest of paranormal enthusiasts. Embrace the enigmatic presence, where intrigue and the otherworldly merge, inviting you on an immersive journey into its captivating and spectral ambiance. Dare to venture forth, for the chilling encounters await!


As we bid farewell to the captivating mysteries of the Ladd School, we must ensure that its history is not forgotten. The stories of its residents and the complex challenges faced by the institution serve as a reminder of the importance of compassion and understanding.

Let us remember the past, learn from it, and honor the individuals whose lives were forever intertwined with this remarkable place.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Where is the Ladd School located?

A: It is located at Ladd Observatory, 210 Doyle Ave, Providence, RI 02906.

Q: What is the Ladd School?
A: The Ladd School, also known as the Exeter School or Rhode Island School for the Feeble-Minded, was a state institution in Rhode Island, USA, that operated from 1907 to 1994. It was originally established to provide care and education for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Q: Why is the Ladd School famous?
A: The Ladd School gained notoriety for its controversial treatment methods, overcrowded conditions, and allegations of abuse and neglect towards its residents. Its closure in 1994 marked the end of an era and sparked discussions about the treatment of individuals with disabilities.

Q: Who were the residents of the School?
A: The Ladd School housed individuals with a wide range of intellectual and developmental disabilities, including those with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other neurological conditions.

Q: When did the Ladd School close?
A: The Ladd School officially closed its doors in 1994, following a period of declining enrollment and increasing public scrutiny of its practices.

Q: What happened to the School after its closure?
A: After its closure, the Ladd School site underwent a transformation, with some of the buildings being demolished and others repurposed for different uses. Today, the site stands as a reminder of its troubled past, and some buildings have been preserved as historical landmarks.

Q: Are there any reported paranormal activities at the School site?
A: Yes, there have been numerous reports of paranormal activities at the former Ladd School site. Many visitors and paranormal enthusiasts claim to have experienced unexplained phenomena and encounters with spirits.

Q: Can the public visit the Ladd School site?
A: The Ladd School site is currently closed to the public. However, there have been discussions about preserving the remaining buildings and opening the site for historical and educational purposes in the future.

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