Maine Developmental Disabilities Council

Out of the Shadows: The Legacy of Pineland

Video Transcript

Title Card: Content Warning: This video contains mention of institutional abuse, and outdated and hurtful language, and may be disturbing to viewers.

Silent movie shot: Wooden sign with the words “Pownal State School”


Paul Easton, former Pineland resident (voice over):

It was like going to a strange place. I had to get used to the place. 


Silent movie shot: Beds in long room, lined up very close together

Title Card: In 1908, an institution for people with developmental disabilities opened in the State of Maine.


George Zitnay, former Pineland superintendent:

As we drove around the grounds of Pineland and when we first approached Pineland, it really looked like a prep school - with the administration building in front, very nice lawns, no flowers though, but it looked like a prep school. But as you got into Pineland you knew perfectly well - it wasn't a prep school.


Title Card: Called the “Maine School for the Feeble Minded”, it was built to house those society deemed “deficient” under the guise of safety for both the residents and for the communities that feared them.


Shot of November 1912 Newspaper clipping: Headline: Maine’s Home for Feeble-Minded: Has Been Open Only Since 1908, But Is Prosperous and Fills a Long-Felt Need – How Pownal Was Chosen for Location of Home – Dr. Bliss’ Work With the Feeble-Minded – They Are Here Developed by School, Manual Training and Out-Door Occupations

Silent Movie: Staff and residents work in Pineland kitchens, surrounded by large metal stock pots


Jim Reed, former Pineland resident (voice over):

It wasn't very good in Pineland - I'll tell you that. Food was no good, that's for sure. They locked the door on me. I couldn't go out.


Silent Movie: Residents walk outside in the snow, in lines.

Title Card: For nine decades, Pineland Center existed and within its walls, isolation and abuse happened under the pretense of “treatment”.


John Stanley, former Pineland resident:

Sometimes if you're really, really out of it, you have to have three people to hold you down.


John Kerry, wrote exposé on Pineland:

There was no humanity, there was no dignity...


Charlie Wyman, former resident, showing decrepit room in former Pineland building with a bathtub in it:

They put you in that bathtub, put ice in it, and then strapped you.

Diane Atwood, reporter:

So what they would do is, if the kid was bad they might haul them in here, fill that with ice water…

Charlie Wyman: 

Yeah, put like ice packs on you and then strap you, and that don't show - if they get your flesh cold enough it doesn't show.


Silent Movie: Men in ties and dress shirts stand around a bed with a child laying in it, while a nurse puts a pillow under the child’s head.


Vicki Schad, sister of Pineland resident (voice over):

Because you never, never would have expected what actually happened up there, you know, with the abuse and all that. That would never be anything that we would ever have exposed him to if we'd known.


Title card: It took self-advocacy, investigative journalism, and a massive class-action lawsuit to create better options in the community. And we still have far to go.


John Stanley, former resident:

There's less people living here now.

Off-screen voice: Where have they all gone, do you suppose?

John: They're gone out in the community.


Conrad Boulay, former resident:

Off-screen voice: Well, let's say you had your choice - would you like to come back and live at Pineland now the way it's changed or would you rather stay...

Conrad: I'd rather stay where I am!


Dr. Al Anderson, former Director, Bureau of MR:

To this day, I still cannot justify large concrete living. I can't.


Allison Morrill, former Pineland advocate:

Why are we there at all? What is the rationale for keeping people in this institution?


Neville Woodruff, lead Council during Pineland lawsuit:

I knew that the danger in any kind of institutional litigation was that you'd be very successful in the institution, and they'd just open the back door and shovel the people out, and you'd be left with a marvelous empty institution and then the problem would be out in the community.


John Stanley, former Pineland resident:

Off-screen voice: Well, does that mean you want to come live?

John: Yeah?

Off-screen voice: You want to come back to Pineland?

John: No! I don't, no I don't.

Off-screen voice: Oh, my lord.

John: I don't want to come back here.


Silent Movie: Children and youth sitting at long tables in a large room, with a staff member in an apron and nurse’s cap brushing one child’s hair.


Jim Reed, former Pineland resident (voice over):

I'm never going to go back there. They closed it down for good.


Title Card: This summer, a virtual exhibit will strive to tell the story of Pineland through the voices of those who lived it and the policies pursued by those in power.


Neville Woodruff, lead Council during Pineland lawsuit:

Immediately you start thinking, "Well, what could it be like, and what should they be doing here?"


Silent Movie: Residents caring for other residents, feeding them.


Maryann Preble, former Pineland resident (voice over):

They put me there and they, you know, went off. And it hurt. It hurt me so, that.  It wasn't, wasn't my kind of place to be in.


Charlene Kinnelly, former interim Pineland superintendent:

That what we've built is so terribly fragile and so... close, it could so easily disappear with... [snaps fingers] just like that.


Wilfred Poulin, former Pineland resident:

I don't like Pineland. I like where I am.


Title Card: Out of the Shadows: The Legacy of Pineland - Coming Summer 2021




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Maine Developmental Disabilities Council
526 Western Avenue  Unit 2
Augusta, ME 04330



139 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333


Phone: 207-480-1478 or toll free 833-713-2618