The CLEVELAND BOYS' SCHOOL IN HUDSON, (the Hudson Boys' School), founded in 1903 as a school for orphaned and incorrigible boys, was located in a rural setting—one of the first of its kind in the country. In 1902, the Reverend HARRIS R. COOLEY, director of charities in the administration of Mayor TOM L. JOHNSON , persuaded the city to purchase 283 acres of land in Hudson to establish a city farm school, believing that boys would benefit by contact with a wholesome outdoor environment away from the temptations of urban life. Early buildings included eight cottages, supervised by cottage "parents," four barns, an engine house, a bakery, laundry, carpentry shop, and gymnasium on the unfenced grounds.
Boys between the ages of ten and seventeen were accepted at the school after commitment by the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court. The school's rehabilitation program emphasized outdoor activities, such as farming, hunting, fishing, as well as classroom instruction through the Cleveland Board of Education. Initially the average length of stay was seven to nine months, which in later years increased to two to three years.
The aging facility had become inadequate in the 1950s, when the number of boys committed increased from 127 to 238 and expenses at the Boys School rose by almost fifty percent. As a result, the school, along with BLOSSOM HILL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS and Cleveland's City Hospital (see CUYAHOGA COUNTY HOSPITAL SYSTEM), was transferred to Cuyahoga County on January 1, 1958. Under county supervision, a new building program was begun in 1961 to implement new vocational programs in plumbing, printing, and painting. Overcrowding continued, and in 1968 an additional $1.9 million expansion was undertaken.
In 1974 the school was merged with the Blossom Hill School for Girls, becoming a coeducational facility renamed the Youth Development Center (YDC). Four years later, the YDC added an aftercare component to its programs. In 1992, the YDC became its own separate division, located under the Cuyahoga County Department of Justice Affairs. As of 2006, the Center continued to operate at its 400-acre site in Hudson.