Utah School for the Deaf and Blind

“Our mission is to provide high quality direct and indirect services to sensory impaired children from birth through age 21 in Utah. ” -Utah School for the Deaf and Blind Mission Statement

The Utah School for the Deaf and Blind was established in 1884 at the University of Deseret (later the University of Utah) in Salt Lake City. Efforts to establish the school were led by John Beck, whose three eldest sons were deaf, and William Wood on behalf of his daughter Elizabeth. The school, established as a department at the university was opened with fourteen children enrolled the first year. Trade skills such as “printing, carpentry, shoe-making, cooking, sewing and housework," were taught. Completion at the school resulted in "two diplomas, a silver medal and a special premium of books from the Territorial Fair.”

At the 1896 Constitutional Convention it was determined that the School for the Deaf would be combined with a new school for the blind. The delegates decided that the new school would be relocated to Ogden. The new facility previously housed the Territorial Reform School, a juvenile correction facility.

Originally the school was comprised of two buildings on several acres. “The grounds of the school were comprised of a tract of land with an area of fifty-seven acres. Ten acres were reserved for the school buildings, lawns arid recreation grounds. A large fruit orchard of over 100 trees covered several acres. About ten acres were in alfalfa, and another ten acres in garden. A tract of seventeen acres furnished pasture for the livestock of the school. The different sections were separated by lines of tall poplar trees which must have made a most pleasing appearance.”

Additional buildings were built in between 1900 to 1905, including a hospital, greenhouse, gymnasium and shop, and the superintendent's cottage. Later, between 1916 and 1934, more building were included, such as a school building, and dormitories, the Driggs and Woodbury Halls. The latter building was built with New Deal PWA funds and designed by prominent Ogden architect Eber F. Piers. This building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The rest of the eight buildings that existed in 1946 are no longer standing.

As the years passed and more deaf and blind students enrolled, it became apparent that this campus would no longer be able to continue supporting the influx of students, and the State Legislature approved the funding for construction of a new campus. By 1959, the new campus was completed and the School for the Blind was moved to their new location on Harrison Boulevard while the School for the Deaf remained on Monroe. Throughout the 1980’s, the USDB, under the direction of Superintendent George G. Howell, began working on re-consolidating the schools to once again be one campus. Finally, in 1993, both schools were again reunited on a single campus at 742 Harrison Blvd in Ogden. The Utah State Board of Education sold the old Utah School for the Deaf campus to the Ogden School District.