This was the only state SD school for the blind from 1900-1961 (when it was moved to Aberdeen, SD). In 2008 a man purchased the property and they have renovated it into a hotel, banquet room, campgrounds, restaurant, etc. They kept much of the original woodwork and did much of the work so it would be on the national historic register. It is amazing the progress they have made in a few years to buildings that were vacant for many years and property that was totally run down. They are booked solid every weekend until the middle of 2012 for weddings and several other events too. Their staff is 30 in the winter to over 60 in the summer.
One of my questions was about Mary Ingalls and all the tour guide knew was that she went to school for the blind in Iowa. I came home and looked at my books and figured out that she went to school in 1881 and graduated in 1889. So it was too early for her to go to school in Gary. But it would have been much easier for her parents to send her to Gary instead of Iowa from DeSmet. That is the reason SD built the school in Gary so their residents that were blind did not have to go to Iowa to school.
The school in Gary usually had about 60 students. The school had a normal school year and the children were allowed to go home during the summer. During the Depression years the children that lived far away were given families in the area to live with because their own families could not afford to come get them. I can only imagine having a blind child and sending them so far away to school that you only see them for a short time in the summer, even missing holidays with them.
It wasn't real far from us so maybe some time we will take the Lambs back to eat at the restaurant or just play on the playground there and take a picnic lunch. The Ladies Aid from the town we live in plan to go on the same field trip in a few weeks. I don't think we'll go back so soon, but it would be fun to go back with our family in the fall.