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Richmond State School Therapeutic Riding Center
RICHMOND STATE SCHOOL. Richmond State School for the Mentally Retarded was opened in April 1968 as a state school facility of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. The school, located on a 242-acre site on a bend of the Brazos River north of Richmond, was constructed in phases, with the first phase to provide accommodations for 500 students. The first 450 were admitted in April 1968.
The school serves children and youths, but primarily adults in a fifteen-county area along the Gulf Coast from Orange County to Matagorda County. Residents are assigned to seven units in eleven buildings, depending on the severity of their mental disability. Plans were to house 1,500 when the school was completed, but this enrollment has never been reached because of the department's increasing emphasis on deinstitutionalization. Richmond State School had 1,023 students in 1980, 755 in 1990, and 700 in 1994. The school offers an intensive physical-therapy program daily. On March 26, 1992, the Russell Shearn Moody Riding Arena, the Reva Williams Petting Zoo, and the Jesse H. Jones Wing of the Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Center opened. The result is one of the most comprehensive hippotherapy (physical, speech, and occupational therapy using horses) programs in the Southwest. Richmond State School in 1994 was the fourth largest employer in Fort Bend County. Expanded medical, dental, behavioral, and recreation programs have also improved the basic care of the residents.