lol_posterThe new documentary film, Lost in Laconia, Looking Back to Understand the Road Ahead, will have its Monadnock region premiere at the Peterborough Community Theater on Monday, November 1 at 7:00 p.m. with an additional showing on November 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the Keene State College Alumni Center. This landmark film traces the history of the Laconia State School from its beginnings as the New Hampshire School for the Feebleminded until it closed in 1991. Sponsored in part by Monadnock Developmental Services, these showings are free and open to the public, with a discussion following.

Alan Greene, Executive Director of Monadnock Developmental Services, comments: “It’s hard to imagine that only 25 years ago an institution like the Laconia State School existed. There are people living in our area, people you and I see on a regular basis, who spent some part of their lives at the Laconia State School. Their stories are now being told, thanks in part to this film. We think their lives are much improved because they’ve come back to live fuller lives in their communities.”

Greene continues: “We’ve come a long way from that era…but there’s still much to be done, on a daily basis, to be sure that people with developmental disabilities are included in the communities in which they live.”

Concord film maker Bil Rogers of 1LMedia teamed up with Gordon DuBois, Laconia State School historian, to produce this film which follows the history of the Laconia State School from its initial beginnings in 1901 as the New HampshireSchool for the Feeblemindeduntil it closed in 1991. January 2011 will mark the 20 year anniversary of the closing of the institution.

Using archival footage, interviews with former residents of the institution, families of former residents, and people who worked at the institution, along with an extensive collection of photos, state documents and newspaper articles, this documentary examines the social values and cultural ideals of the twentieth century.

In 1903 58 children living in almshouses throughout New Hampshire were admitted to the New Hampshire School for the Feebleminded. This was during a time when certain individuals and entire families were stigmatized as “feebleminded”. They were considered a danger to society and sentenced to a life of isolation and total segregation in the name of creating a better society, safe from the presumed dangers posed by this segment of the population. Over the course of the next 80 years, thousands of New Hampshire citizens, children and adults, were segregated and isolated in this large state operated institution, often rejected by family, friends and the community. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the role of the institution was questioned and in the 1980s an array of community services was established to serve individuals with developmental disabilities.

In 2008, the idea of making a documentary film about the Laconia State School was born through the inspiration of participants in the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability-Family Leadership Program. Mr. DuBois was inspired by their vision and the project commenced under the auspices of the Community Support Network, Inc. of Concord. The film was produced through funds contributed by many organizations and citizens throughout the state. The film is dedicated to Ms. Frieda Smith, a tireless advocate for people with disabilities.

For information on the November film showing, call David Yeiter at 603-313-3041 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information about the film and the Laconia State School History Project go to www.csni.org.