| St. Mary's Infant Asylum was founded in 1872 under the charge of the Sisters of Charity. It was first started by the "White Bonnet" Sisters on the old Seaver estate at the corner of Homes Avenue and Bowdoin Street. Dr. Benjamin Cushing, a well-known Dorchester physician, was a great supporter of the work of the Asylum until his death in 1895. The house at the Bowdoin Street location was inconvenient for the work of the Asylum, and in 1883 the institution was moved to Jones' Hill at Upham's Corner where the Green estate had been purchased and the house renovated for its use. For a while the charity passed into the hands of another community of Sisters, but efforts to maintain the success of the Asylum failed. Father Peter Ronan stepped in and became builder, planner, supervisor, and treasurer. In 1901 he supervised the construction of a new building, and he went to New Hampshire to personally choose the brick. Father Ronan obtained much of the money for this building by appeals to charitable business and professional men boston, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. In 1910, the Asylum claimed to have received 17,332 children into the institution since its foundation, and that the number born there each year averaged 200.
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The children's building is a rectangular structure, 50 feet by 100 feet, five stories in height. In addition to the main building, a heating, ventilating, and laundry plant connects the children's building with the maternity department. The exterior of the children's building is of water struck brick with limestone trimmings in the style of the Georgian period.
The completion of the new children's building allowed for the comfortable use of the original building and a new addition by the Maternity Department. In 1901 the Maternity Department consisted of the remodelled old house and the addition of a four-story brick building, 40 by 80 feet, used for hospital purposes. This department had its origin in a small ward in Carney Hospital, known as St. Ann's Ward. Its move to St. Mary's created efficiencies since the St. Mary's staff could care for the newly born as well. In 1910, a new maternity hospital, to be called St. Margaret's, was constructed. This was an adjunct to the Infant Asylum and was also to be conducted by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.
For more information, consult:
Emery, S.L. A Catholic Stronghold and Its Making. A Historyof St. Peter's Parish, Dorchester Massachusetts, and of Its First Rector The Rev. Peter Ronan, P.R. Boston, 1910.
King's Hand-Book of Boston. Boston: Moses King Corporation, 1889. 9th ed. Mentions that the Asylum was founded in 1870.
Lord, Robert H., John E. Sexton and Edward T. Harrington. History of the Archdiocese of Boston. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1944. 3 vols.
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Created: February 15, 2004 Modified: February 15, 2004