Steve Davis

The Rainier School
Location: Olympia, Seattle, Washington State
Nationality: USA
Biography: Steve Davis is a documentary portrait and landscape photographer based in the Pacific Northwest.  His work has appeared in American Photo, Harper's, the New York Times Magazine, Russian Esquire, and is in many collections, including the... read on
Public Story
The Rainier School
Copyright steve davis 2021
Date of Work 12/18/05 - 11/05/06
Updated 02/04/20
The Rainier School is a state operated institution for the developmentally disabled, not far from Seattle at the base of beautiful Mount Rainier. The school at the Rainier School disappeared years ago. There are no young people. Many of its residents have lived there for their entire lives. They have been betrayed by their minds, and many cases, their bodies. Most of its residents are now elderly, and this extensive campus (complete with pool, bowling alley, restaurant and its own farm) is now home to only about 370 people, about 20% of its peak capacity.

My objective was to document the final days of a school-turned rest home. In a sense, it is a carefully monitored prison. In another, it is a charming country club. Nowadays, as we avoid the institutionalization of the developmentally disabled, the Rainier School and many similar facilities are the victims of our social progress. These images represent the end of a major public commitment, and the unique culture it created.


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