History


Our past and our future…

Cottages for Multiple Disabilities BlindIn 1853, Franklin Pierce had just been elected as the 14th President of the United States, Abe Lincoln was still a young congressman in Illinois, and most people would scoff at the very suggestion that, in the very near future, Americans would turn against Americans in a bloody Civil War. It was also the year that our school, known as the Maryland Institution for the Instruction of the Blind, first opened its doors in downtown Baltimore.

Starting with a small group of students, the school had three superintendents in the first 11 years. The first superintendent was David E. Loughery who was a blind graduate of the Pennsylvania Institution for the Instruction of the Blind. It then settled into a period of tremendous growth under the direction of Fredrick Douglas Morrison, who was superintendent from 1864 to 1904. A national leader in his profession, instrumental in the founding of the American Association of Instructors of the Blind and an early proponent of a then controversial new system called “braille”, Mr. Morrison lead the nation by example.

In 1868 he moved the campus to much larger quarters on North Avenue and changed the name to The Maryland School for the Blind. In 1872, when segregation was still common practice, he was a founder of The Maryland School for the Colored Blind and Deaf and served as the superintendent of both schools. John Frances Bledsoe became superintendent in 1906.

In 1908 Mr. Bledsoe moved the school to its present location in the Northeast corner of Baltimore City. The leadership at The Maryland School for the Blind reads like a Who’s Who in Education for the Blind in America. Francis M. Andrews, Herbert Joseph Wolfe, Richard L. Welsh and Louis M. Tutt were all internationally recognized innovators who moved the school forward into the 20th century.

Historical Timeline

The Maryland School for the Blind has come a long way since 1853!  We are extremely proud of our history and we hope you will join us in celebrating these significant milestones!


1853 The Maryland Institution for the Education of the Blind incorporated as a private, state-aided school.

1864 Frederick Douglas Morrison began his 40-year career as Superintendent.

1885 The School’s name changed to The Maryland School for the Blind.

1887 Superintendent Morrison was a founder of the American Association of Workers for the Blind.

1906 John Francis Bledsoe became Superintendent and served for 36 years.

1907 The School moved to its present location on Taylor Avenue in Parkville.

1909 Newcomer Hall and four cottages were built, beginning the first cottage system for instruction of the blind.

1924 Students began attending City College and Eastern High Schools, a first in the country.

1945 During 12:30-2:00 p.m. lunch and free time, some students went to Overlea to shop.

1952 First deaf-blind student accepted and Boy Scout Troop 710 formed.

1953 Governor McKeldin spoke at dedication of Bledsoe Building and Knefely Gym.

1957 Andrews Building completed.

1964 Key Club was organized, sponsored by Parkville Kiwanis Club.

1966 Students began attending Parkville High School.

1970 The Health Center was named for Miss Sallie Mae Bledsoe, a nurse at MSB for 50 years.

1972 Under Superintendent Herbert J. Wolfe, a facility was designed for the multiply handicapped students afflicted by the rubella epidemic of the late 1960’s.

1974 P.L.94-142 mandated education for all handicapped children to age 21.

1977 Casper G. Sippel Aquatherapy pool built.

1978 Superintendent Dr. Richard L. Welsh oversaw completion of major facility additions and remodeling.

1982 Five new buildings were dedicated.

1987 MSB and Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) began Hoover Low Vision Services.

1990 Louis M. Tutt became 10th president (superintendent).

1999 The Jen C. Russo Arts Center was dedicated.

2003 MSB celebrates its 150th Anniversary.

2004 Elaine Sveen became 11th and first female president.

2007 MSB celebrates 100 years in Parkville, MD.

2008 Dr. Michael J. Bina became 12th president.

2010 Campus master plan implemented.

2013 MSB celebrates its 160th Anniversary.

2014 The newly constructed Multiple Disabilities Blind Learning Activity Center and Cottages and the Blanton-Munson Health Center are dedicated.

2015 MSB breaks ground on the new Autism-Blind Learning Activity Center and Cottages.

2016 MSB President, Dr. Michael Bina, receives the American Foundation for the Blind’s Migel Medal Award, the highest honor in the blindness field.

2016 MSB dedicates the new Campus Athletic Sports Complex which includes beep baseball and soccer fields, a basketball court, sprint track and 400M track.