Our pandemic series continues on the blog this week. Part 4 of 4 focuses on St. Vincent’s Orphanage in New Orleans which opened in 1860. In our earlier blog posts we discussed the massive numbers of people in New Orleans who lost their lives in the 19th century due to disease. The nuns from the Daughters of Charity founded St. Vincent’s Orphanage in response to the number of children whose parents died in the cholera and yellow fever pandemics. St. Vincent’s was known as the “baby asylum”. It once contained over 200 children at the same time. As soon as the children hit the age of seven, they were sent to one of the boys or girls institutions in the city.
The Mother Of The Orphans
Besides the nuns, many would contribute to the care of these orphans including a woman named Margaret Haughery. Margaret was an Irish immigrant. She came from nothing and built a thriving bakery. She became New Orleans’ foremost philanthropist. Margaret provided much of the funding for St. Vincent’s.
Of course, St. Vincent’s wasn’t able to handle all of the children orphaned in the 19th century. Numerous orphanages opened due to the number of children in need. By 1916 there were 21 private children’s agencies. St. Vincent’s orphanage transitioned to housing for single mothers and was opened until the 1990’s. The building then fell into disrepair.
In 1994, Peter Schreiber and Sally Leonard took over the derelict building and remodeled it into a unique guest house. Children who passed away from yellow fever have been witnessed as playful spirits in the building.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our pandemic history series. Thank You Again! The Savvy Native
The Savvy Native is a group of experienced local tour guides who were either born in New Orleans or wish they had been.
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