| The Prendergast Preventorium, founded and maintained by Boston Brahmins, was a division of the Boston Tuberculosis Society where the children of parents who had contracted consumption (tuberculosis) could be placed if the parents were institutionalized and there was no one to care for their children. Sometimes when one parent could not handle several children, one or more would be sent to the Preventorium until the home situation stabilized. When there was a possibility that a child had contracted the disease, the child might be sent to the Preventorium so that others would not be exposed. After the Preventorium was no longer in use, it was purchased by the entity that later was called the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The Preventorium building was used by the Ledgebrook Home, the orphanage of the Greater Boston Jewish Community until the early 1950s. [Information from Albert Sherman]
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Gregory Prendergast [no relation] writes in 2003: My Dad got a lot of "keep the kids in line" mileage out of that place as we lived only a few miles away in Roslindale It was on the main road to the Calvary Cemetery where a number of my family relatives are buried. On each trip to pay our respects to those dearly departed, Dad would remind us that if we did not behave, he would use his family influence to arrange a stay for us until we had a change of attitude. He had told us that his uncle ran the place and that it was where kids were sent who were disrespectful and did not mind their parents, teachers, policemen, bus drivers, nuns, priests and a multitude of others. Needless to say we behaved and I think I survived my childhood without any deep paranoia.
From: Anne M. Wilson-Prichard, February 1, 2008
In 1956, I was a 17 y/o student at the Winslow Secretarial and Court Reporting School in Boston. For Christmas of that year, the students at the school decided to do a Christmas party for some deserving school or organization. The Prendergast Preventorium was chosen and plans were made. A fellow classmate and I were chosen to buy gifts for the children, after we had determined how many gifts were needed according to the number of boys and girls.
On the day of the party, several students and I were gathered at the Preventorium to celebrate, which included singing Christmas songs and sharing treats that we had brought. One girl in particular who stands out in my mind after all these years, was a little black girl, about 3/4, named Vera. She was very shy and withdrawn and did not mingle well. That is until I presented her with a little baby doll. Then her eyes lit up and she agreed to sit with me. She later named her doll Anne, after me, and we ending spending the whole day together. It was a day I never forgot. To this day, I still wonder about Vera and if she was able to return to her family and if so, what she did with her life.
I now am approaching 70 (Feb 24), and living in Florida for the past 17 years; and today at lunch with my husband, Vera popped into my mind again. I am the mother of 6 boys, 9 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren and I thank God every day that they all are healthy and doing well. I hope the same goes for Vera and her family.
Thank for you the opportunity to tell my special story about Prendergast Preventorium and the little girl who made such an impression on me at my young age.
Anne M. Wilson-Prichard
From: John Lee, April 2009:
Comments My sister Jean and me, spent more years than I can remember at Prendergast during the 1940's and 50's. Most of the time spent there ws miserable, I even planned an escape with my sister by climbing over the fence and getting to Mattapan Station and take a street car home. We were stopped by a staff member named Phyllis, she talked us into going back. I remember the rat hill and have a picture somwher of 4 of us boys tending the garden, I remember one last name was Le Blanc and another first name was Alfred, the other two I can't remember, one was a black kid. I also have a memory of a girle named Mcfarland, I think and she was from Natick. we also had a Chinese girl there who used to sing for us.
From Ernest McFarland, October ,2009
My name is Ernest McFarland I would like to talk to John Lee. I rember Phyllis she use to sing Don'nt Fence Me In. I also remmber the garden and the crab apple trees. The fleece lined bags in school in the winter. I'm 72 and would love to talk to you my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org I was at prendergast preventorium with my two sisters. The reason they were from Natick we stayed with our Uncle for a short time. There names were Jean and Mary. I remeber a Chinese girl who cried because a heavy set woman sat on her. And I still hate her Spitz.
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Created: August 17, 2003 Modified: October 14, 2009