Darden Rehabilitation Foundation (formerly the Gadsden Rehab Center) was formed from a community group meeting involving the Alabama Vocational Rehabilitation and Crippled Children Services, the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Alabama School of Trades, The Etowah County Chapter of the Alabama Society for Crippled Children and Adults along with many concerned local citizens. In 1956 a grant was received from the Federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, which went toward remodeling and expansion of the downstairs of Brown Hall, a dormitory on the campus of the Alabama School of Trades. Gadsden Center was allowed to use this building by the Trade School Director E. L. Darden. In January of 1957 the Gadsden Center received its first of many consumers.
The Gadsden Center grew and flourished to the point of being the southeast’s premier rehabilitation center. In the early 1960s the Gadsden Center began to serve as the host facility for Alabama and southeastern states meetings. During one of these meetings a Senior Consultant from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Washington, D.C. stated that the work being done at the Gadsden Center was the best that he had seen and urged the staff to share their methods with others. In 1966 the name was changed to Darden Rehabilitation Foundation in honor of retiring Trade School Director E. L. Darden. Many adults and students with disabilities from a 5 county area have received services from Darden Rehabilitation, however there are still many to be served.