Oakdale Regional Development Center (the Lapeer State Home for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic) closed its doors just 4 years shy of 100 years in operation (1895-1991). At its peak, Oakdale encompassed several thousand acres with over 120 buildings, was home to more than 4500 residents and was the largest employer in Lapeer County, Michigan. Today, all that remains are 5 buildings (Mott Community College, Rolland Warner Middle School, Chatfield Charter School, 2 staff houses) and a cemetery. Every year, the Oakdale Cemetery Tour remains one of the Lapeer District Library’s most popular programs.
The book “Oakdale: the Lapeer State Home” by Laura Fromwiller and Jan Gillis is available for check out at your LDL branch library. The reference section of the Marguerite deAngeli Library in Lapeer also has several binders of newspaper articles, pictures and other materials available for viewing.
Haynes v. Lapeer Circuit Judge
Flint Journal: Dark Past: Michigan sterilized more than 3,000 people from early 1900s to 1970s by Lindsay Knake, June 23, 2011
Michigan man a victim of forced sterilization, Toledo Blade, August 8, 1998
Scarred by Sterilization, Washington Post, March 2000
When I first moved to Lapeer County in the late 1990's, I kept hearing people making reference to Oakdale and talking about the Castle and as I drove around the city of Lapeer, I kept looking for buildings or some sign of the fabled campus. I didn't know until I became a reference desk assistant at the Marguerite deAngeli Library that despite its relatively recent closing (about 6 years at the time) that most of it had already been demolished. Answering questions for patrons about Oakdale only sparked my curiosity more.