The 160 acre parcel of land on which the Grand Junction Regional Center campus is located was formerly owned by the United States Government. In 1885, construction began on the Teller Institute, an Indian boarding school. By 1900, the school had an enrollment of about 200 students, including members of the Ute, Navajo, Papago, Moquis, Shoshone, and Pima tribes. With the Federal Government’s decision to return Native American students to their homes for their education, the Teller Institute was closed in July 1911. Shortly after that, its assets were liquidated, and it was discovered that groundwater was seeping into the basements of some buildings because of uncontrolled irrigation water. The buildings and land were given to the State of Colorado later that year.
After the buildings had been vacant for several years, the State opened a training school in 1921, known as the State Home for Mental Defectives, to serve “handicapped and retarded students.” The name was later changed to the State Home and Training School. By the 1960’s upwards of 800 people lived at the State Home, where some went to school and others worked on a dairy farm within the plot of land owned by the State. The name of the facility was changed to the Grand Junction Regional Center in the late 1970’s. Ten community homes were built in the mid 1980's, each with the capability of serving eight people. With the national movement to return people with developmental disabilities to their communities and away from large, congregate settings, the number of people served on the Regional Center campus has gradually decreased. Another Personal Care Alternative (PCA) home was opened in the mid 1990's and two additional leased homes were opened in 2001.
One tale that still survives of the Teller Institute is that there was supposedly an epidemic, in which many Teller students died, and that there is an old cemetery on the Regional Center campus. Local historians have found that there were several epidemics in the Grand Junction area around the turn of the century, but there were actually few health problems among the Teller Institute students. The local genealogical society, which catalogs known cemeteries, could not confirm the existence of a cemetery on the Regional Center campus; however, there was documentation of a small number of remains being removed to a nearby cemetery. Only three of the buildings on the campus that were built prior to 1911 remain standing. Over the years, the State of Colorado has erected other buildings, some of which have since been torn down, as well. If there were a cemetery on the campus, it is not likely that there is any evidence of it left today. In 1999, the State of Colorado deeded twenty-five acres of vacant land on the east side of the campus to the Department of Veterans Affairs to be used as a Veterans' cemetery. The new Veteran's Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado was dedicated on July 17, 2002 and is now serving Colorado Veterans and their families.