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Brook Lane Celebrates 70 Years! (1949-2019)

During World War II, a corps of conscientious objectors chose to fulfill their obligation by performing Civilian Public Service (CPS) rather than serving in the military. These men, working without pay, were assigned by the United States government to large work projects. Some expressed a desire to perform more meaningful service and were assigned to help in state mental health institutions. What they saw were deplorable conditions. One example was the Philadelphia State Hospital, with a capacity of 2,500 patients and a census of 6,000! A staff of only 200 attendants worked at the facility. A May 1946 issue of Life magazine exposed the situation and described mental hospitals as "little more than concentration camps." Wards were so crowded that the floors could not be seen and patients were naked and restrained with straps and locks.

The Mennonite community rallied to the cause and the church developed a vision of care for those with mental illness based on the theology of healing. A committee was created and a master plan called for three locations throughout the country with the proposed eastern site being a 115-acre farm in Leitersburg, MD. A number of buildings already existed along a dirt drive that ran parallel to a small winding brook. The proposal was approved and the site was named Brook Lane Farm.

Brook Lane Timeline


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