Volunteer

HISTORY

Rear View - St. John's Home in Brooklyn

The small group of pioneer Catholics who gathered in a school room adjacent to St. James Church in 1826 could hardly have imagined the impact it was about to have on the future of tens of thousands of youth. The group had come together at the suggestion of Peter Turner, a giant in the early Church in Brooklyn, to protect and educate orphan children without burdening the poor. That pioneer band met for four years before forming itself into the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum Society in the Village of Brooklyn, which was formerly incorporated May 6, 1834, the same year Brooklyn became a City.

Above: St. John's Formal Entrance
Built in 1879
Above: Infirmary - Class Rooms -
Club Rooms
Above: Auditorium - Gymnasium - Dormitories

Dr. J. Sullivan Thorne, a Protestant, led the society during its first years of incorporation. The first orphan asylum, staffed by the Sisters of Charity, was opened on Jay Street in 1828 and housed 13 children. It was not long before a generous benefactor, Cornelius Heeney, another famous name in local Church lore, donated a building and land on the corner of Clinton and Conger Streets in Brooklyn Heights. Children were moved to that site in 1841 where the girls were cared for by Sister Constantia and the Sisters of Charity. Boys were brought under the sites of Michael Burke in a building on Clinton Street. The institution became known as St. Paul’s Industrial School.

Further separation of the genders took place in 1857 when the boys were moved to Bedford and Willoughby Avenues under the care of the Franciscan Brothers.

The later half of the 19th Century saw the society begin to take its present day form. St. John’s Home was the name given to the institution for boys opened in 1868 on the site near Albany and Troy Avenues in Brooklyn. At its peak, the Sisters of St. Joseph cared for 1,000 boys.

St. John's Home in Rockaway Park

At the request of Bishop Thomas Molloy of Brooklyn, the Marianists took over the responsibility for the program from the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1937. With the decrease of the number of children coming into care, St. John’s looked for a new venue and decided to settle on Beach 111th Street in Rockaway Park. The Diocese purchased The Hebrew Home for Convalescent Children and added three floors to the north end of the building in order to accommodate a dormitory, a chapel, and a residence area for the Marianist Community.

At that time, the boys being cared for in St. Malachy’s Home on Beach 112th Street (now the site of Stella Maris High School) were transferred to St. John’s.

St. John's Residence Building Opened May 1971

The move to a newly constructed residence building on Beach 110th Street created room in the former dormitories for the school program, which up to that time had been located in a large white frame building near the play field. St. John’s still has an on property school, and a majority of the boys participate in that program, although others are placed in various public school programs that are located off property.

From an orphan asylum in 1826 to a contemporary program serving boys and families at risk, St. John’s has undergone many changes, all of them geared to the needs of the boys and families we serve. Our hope and prayer is that we can continue this important
work.


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Saint John's Residence for Boys

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