Monson Developmental Center was established in 1852 as one of three state almshouses, along with Bridgewater and Tewksbury. The almshouses represented the state's first venture into care of the poor, a role previously filled exclusively by the cities and towns. In 1866, Monson was redesignated as the State Primary School, formalizing its developing association with impoverished children. From 1895 to 1909, it was designated as the Massachusetts Hospital for Epileptics, and it continued to serve people with epilepsy until 1960 as Monson State Hospital. Most of the varied and well-designed buildings on the campus date to the early twentieth century and reflect the important transition from almshouse/primary school to hospital for patients with epilepsy. Monson's history clearly embodies major trends in care of the poor, sick, and people with disabilities, with its period of significance extending from 1854 to 1940.