Lutheran Hospitals and Homes Society purchased the Crippled Children’s School and moved it to Jamestown in 1940. Construction began in the fall at Horseshoe Park on six acres purchased for $450. The original building cost $58,000 to construct and was paid for entirely with private donations. It opened its doors to 18 students on Sept. 22, 1941. The school included two modern classrooms, library, craft room, therapy room, dining hall, recreation room and dormitory for 35 children.
Dr. Anne Carlsen was named superintendent in 1950 after working as a teacher and principal for 12 years. She officially retired in 1981 and resided on the Center’s campus until her death in 2002. During her official tenure she championed issues of education and employment of people with physical handicaps. She received recognition and awards from state and national public officials for her efforts, among them the President’s Trophy as “Handicapped American of the Year” in 1958. She appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” in 1971 and has received coverage from numerous media outlets around the country.
In 1980 the Center’s name was changed from the Crippled Children’s School to Anne Carlsen School in honor of Dr. Anne Carlsen. The name was changed to Anne Carlsen Center for Children in 1993 to better reflect who was served through the Center. The name was shortened in 2008 to the Anne Carlsen Center to better reflect the broader scope of services for individuals of all ages.
In the mid-1980s, the focus of the Center’s programs expanded to include young people with severe multiple disabilities. Then the Center’s program expanded to include services and placement for children with autism. Two decades later, ACC’s programs expanded to include services for individuals of all ages.
In the mid-1980s, the pool project was completed. This amazing therapy and recreational tool has hydraulic lifts which enable the floor to be raised and lowered to any depth, up to five feet. The water temperature hovers at 95 degrees, which aids in therapeutic benefits of strengthening muscles and improving mobility of joints. The 20-by-40 foot long pool is in an area of 6,000 square feet and contains about 30,000 gallons of water.
In 1990 the Advanced Care Unit opened, providing state-of the art medical care and skilled personnel for children with medical fragility.
Donations help provide the opportunity to live a life full of new and exciting experiences. For some, it may be going to summer camp, while for others it could be making a jar of salsa from tomatoes raised from seeds in the Solarium or garden. Each of these special and unique experiences help shape lives and create a future of hope and optimism for our students.
The Community Integration and Vocational Development Program began providing individuals aged 14-and-up with disabilities valuable work experiences as trainees in local businesses. Today, over 60 area businesses work with students and adults in the program.
In 2003, the Center became an independently-owned and operated healthcare facility.
In 2005, the Center finished construction on the third of three cottages. Two other cottages had been constructed the year before. These Home Living Areas, located yards from the Jamestown Campus, provide students a more independent setting for living. Horseshoe Park and River’s Bend, the two dorms inside the Center were also renovated, allowing students opportunities such as cooking in an adapted kitchen, utilizing sensory motor areas, or receiving 24-hour oxygen availability. At least 10 major construction projects during the Center’s history have expanded the Jamestown Campus’ capacity to provide quality education, therapy and residential services. Nearly all construction has been completed thanks to donor generosity.
In 2008, the Center finished construction of its Solarium, a major component in the ACC Gardening Curriculum. The Solarium brings the beauty of nature to students year round, as they learn to grow and care for plants. Earlier in the decade the Nature Trail was completed, immediately behind the Center’s Campus. This path, surrounded by trees has also become home to turkeys and deer, allowing students the chance to experience wildlife first hand.
In 2008, the Center expanded its mission, bringing services to clients in their own communities. This includes In-Home Supports as well as Personal and Community Supports.In-Home Supports help clients as Center staff visits children and families in their homes with training and support, while Personal and Community Supports connect individuals age 21 and over with their home communities. As part of the expansion, the Center opened a Community Services office in Grand Forks and began serving clients throughout Northeast North Dakota.
In 2011 the Center assumed operations of four offices — Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Jamestown — of the state’s KIDS Program. This evaluation tool works with individuals from the time they are born to the age of 3.
Today the Center employs over 400 full and part-time people dedicated to nurturing abilities and changing lives. More than 100 volunteers dedicate time to forwarding the Center’s mission.