Hissom Memorial

170
City/Town: Sand Springs
Location Class: SchoolHospital
Year Built: 1964 | Year Abandoned: 1993
Status: Demolished
Photojournalist: Billy DixonDavid LindeJohnny Fletcher

In the post-war era, Oklahoma had a significant number of children diagnosed with mental disabilities requiring institutionalization, but the two schools operated by state mental health officials at Enid and Pauls Valley had become antiquated and overcrowded and dated back almost to statehood. Providing modern care for these children became a priority for Governors Raymond Gary and J. Howard Edmondson in the 1950s and legislation funding a new facility near Tulsa was approved in 1959.

The new facility was built on land donated to the state by successful oilman Wiley G. Hissom. Hissom operated an Angus cattle farm as a hobby on the 85 acres located five miles northwest of Sand Springs along the Arkansas River. In 1954 he donated it to Oklahoma State University as an experimental farm. However, when it seemed the school was not making full use of it, he helped arrange for the land to be transferred to the state for the purposes of a residential training center for mentally disabled children.

After nearly five years and $7 million, the Hissom Memorial Center opened to 1200 patients on March 7, 1964. It was heralded as a marvel in the mental health field (especially after 300 cage-like cribs were removed) and referred to as The City of Hope. Among it’s 24 buildings were medical facilities and dorm-like residences which were seen as an improvement over the old turn-of-the-century institutions.

In the mid-1980s a group called Homeward Bound brought a suit against the center in hopes of closing it down and placing patients into communities and integrating them into society as much as possible, contending it was more humane and much cheaper than institutionalization. Indeed, court-appointed observers reported a “prison-like atmosphere” and considered Hissom a “human-development emergency” and an “educational disaster.” A federal judge ordered the facility closed in 1987, but it was 1994 when the last patient left and the center was mothballed.

Since that time rehabilitation development of the facility has been elusive and, though money has been appropriated to raze the area, it has yet to happen.

WARNING: Hissom Memorial Center is patrolled by the Sand Springs Police department due to vandals and trespassers. They do carry weapons, and will arrest those caught on the property. DO NOT GO TO THIS DANGEROUS LOCATION UNLESS YOU HAVE PERMISSION.

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Joseph Butler
10 years ago

We filmed a music video here.

Ginnyfromtheblock
Ginnyfromtheblock
11 years ago

My Uncle was born with Downs Syndrome and the Doctors at the time he was born told my grandmother to put him in an institution because he would be a "vegetable" My grandma kept him at home with the family for several years but, after hearing about how "great" Hissom was for people like my Uncle she thought they would give it a shot… he was not there very long. The first time my grandmother went to go visit him and he had lost so much weight, he was filthy, wouldn't talk and a bunch of other unmentionable things. SO,… Read more »

Hailey
Hailey
Reply to  Ginnyfromtheblock
5 years ago

Same here my second cousin has a handicap that gives her being 34 ish the mind of six year old and when people use the term retarded around me and my mom it makes us mad because she is not retarded just a little different than us but we still love her ,love you chrissy Michelle.

Kathy Lynn Moore
Kathy Lynn Moore
9 months ago

I dont know if this is still there or not i would love to go in there , i probably did when i was a child , my older sister was here and died there

Hailey
Hailey
5 years ago

Guys it was not the place that was bad but the people working there a building can hurt someone

Hailey
Hailey
Reply to  Hailey
5 years ago

Can't*

Sharon
Sharon
Reply to  Hailey
4 years ago

I worked at Hissom in the summer of 1968 as a recreation assistant.. It was a wonderful job and I met many great people.. The residents were sweet children and I never saw any abuse or heard of anything negative happening at the center.. Later that year, I came back to Hissom as a practice teacher and lived with 3 other girls In site who were also students getting their degree at OSU.. Those two experiences I treasure and am so sorry that the center came to such a negative end.. I can only think that a lack of good… Read more »

Hailey
Hailey
5 years ago

It makes me sick to think about the abuse that these poor people went through because they were different then us

Tariqulcba1
5 years ago

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Tariqulcba1
5 years ago

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5 years ago

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Robert
Robert
6 years ago

Hissom has been completely destroyed. We went to explore there and found nothing but bulldozed lots.

Graham
Graham
6 years ago

so has hissom been demolished?

Peach
Peach
6 years ago

My sister in Hissom…when I went to visit her she was like a zombie, and laid like an over dosed human. It was sad…Yesterday..with all the red tape….she now lives with me. She is FREE! Its so difficult when you deal with DHS and other agency that were assigned to care of the clients. BUT yesterday..we freed our sister from the clutches of Hissom's nightmare!

T.Cook
T.Cook
7 years ago

I am a care provider for 2 individuals who transitioned out if Hissiom I have been with them now for over 20 years is there anyway to access pics that were taken there or acces their medical files? Both would b extremely helpul, one of my 'boys' came from a poor family and we have no pics of him at all from birth to18, please any info would b helpful on finding their records and photographs!

Lisa S
Lisa S
7 years ago

I had a older brother that lived in Hissom for 6yrs and the things that went on there some were good but of what i was told by my brother he was treated very badly. while there he ran his hand into a glass plate window and broke to finger's on one hand, i have been in this feild for yrs caring for disabled adults, i have had people stare at them talk bad about them, lets just put it this way u just better hope and pray that the one's that makes fun of these adults that u dont… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Lisa S
7 years ago

Im looking for info about to girls who live there their name was harbor can your brother help just drop a note here.thanks

LittleE95
LittleE95
8 years ago

So when you guys go into places like this that are patrolled what do you do? Do you ask the owner if it's ok?

tabitha s titsworth
tabitha s titsworth
8 years ago

Is the building still there or did it get demolished.

Kat
Kat
Reply to  tabitha s titsworth
8 years ago

I was wondering about that as well. Anyone have any info?

trackback
8 years ago

[…] Hissom Memorial Center REVISITED | Abandoned OklahomaOct 20, 2010… and legislation funding a new facility near Tulsa was approved in 1959. … Hissom operated an Angus cattle farm as a hobby on the 85 acres … […]

guest
guest
8 years ago

went by there today and the building are all gone

Joshua Baker
8 years ago

Webco owns the building now. Tough to get a hold of them.

Seth
Seth
9 years ago

For anyone interested in learning more about Hissom, the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council produced a 50 minute documentary on it called "Living in the Freedom World". There is a lot of footage of site and interviews with former residents, parents, and workers. You can stream it for free on Vimeo:

Brady
Brady
9 years ago

I would like to say that I have grown up in the neighborhood next to Hissom. It was definitely an eerie place. It has since been torn down and an office complex is being built there.

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