The St. Elizabeth’s Home, now the St. Elizabeth’s Child Development Center (opened 1969), was opened in 1888 when the orphans at St. Denis Academy in North Whitefield, Maine were transferred here. Bishop James A. Healy purchased the building in 1887. The Maine State Legislature passed the Corporation Sole Charter at that time incorporating the institution as the “St. Elizabeth’s Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum.” Robert Boyle built the original building in 1805 for a residence and additions and alterations over the last two centuries have greatly transformed it.
St. Elizabeth’s replaced the St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage on Free Street, which had been opened in 1872. When the Sisters of Mercy took over the home in 1888, ten Sisters were assigned to the staff to care for eighty-seven children, only some of which were true orphans. Others were half-orphans (at least one parent alive), some were from broken homes, and some became day boarders.
The first superior of the home was Sister Mary Stanislaus Griffin, who was known for “making a happy home for the little ones.” Cork native Sister Mary Anselm Dwyer, who spent ten years at the Free Street orphanage, was the laundress for the orphans for forty years. Galway native Sister Mary Bridget Coyne was the cook for the home and was “canonized” by the other Sisters and the orphans many years before she actually died.
In 1907, the infants at the home were transferred to “The Creche,” a property on the corner of Mellen and Sherman Streets that Bishop Louis Walsh purchased for infants and toddlers. In 1920 the boys at the home were relocated to St. Louis Home in Scarborough. From that time forward, there were always at least seventy-five girls at St. Elizabeth’s Home, so named in 1938 for sociological reasons.
RELATED SITES: St. Elizabeth’s Academy