Joseph's Home of Springfield
"Home for a Hundred Years"
series of collectible ornaments honors the historic and architectural
treasures of Springfield,
Illinois. Each ornament is designed by a local artist and manufactured
in 24-karat gold-plate. Annually, Springfields mayor has proclaimed
it the Official City Ornament.
The city ornament series was conceived in 1993 to raise funds for
capital improvements at Saint
Josephs Home of Springfield, a nursing and shelter-care
home for the elderly founded in 1903.
Saint Josephs Home
was established a century ago by the Sisters of Saint Francis of the
Immaculate Conception to provide a place where the elderly could live
in dignity embraced in a loving environment of respect and
safety. Seven members of this religious community still administer
The Saint Josephs
Home of Springfield story began in 1897. At that time there were
only two choices for long-term care for the aged: Kings Daughters
Home which was for women only, and the Sangamon County Poor Farm.
This shortage of long-term care homes was a concern to Thomas Brady,
a benevolent man who lived the last years of his life in a suite of
rooms at Saint Johns Hospital because there was no other suitable
place for him to convalesce. Brady left a bequest of $17,000 for the
Catholic diocese (then headquartered in Alton) to establish a home
for the aged in Springfield.
After receiving the Brady bequest, then-Bishop James J. Ryan invited
the Franciscan Sisters who operated Saint Josephs Home of Peoria
to open a similar home in Springfield. In 1903, the Sisters used the
funds to purchase the Wabash Railroad Hospital (formerly the luxurious
home of prominent citizen James Cook Conkling) at Sixth and Lawrence,
and they welcomed their first residents on October 6, 1903. Demand
quickly outgrew available space. In 1908 the house next door was purchased
and was structurally connected to the original Home with a bridge.
In the early 1920s, the See (headquarters) of the Catholic
diocese was moved from Alton to Springfield, and a site was needed
for a new cathedral. Meanwhile, Saint
Josephs Home was again becoming overcrowded, with 62 residents
in two buildings that were originally built to be single-family homes.
Diocesan officials selected the Saint Josephs Home site at Sixth
and Lawrence in Springfield for the new cathedral, and Bishop James
A. Griffin spearheaded a campaign to raise $100,000 to help Saint
Josephs Home relocate. His campaign resulted in the purchase
of 43 acres of walnut-tree-covered farmland on the southern edge of
Architects designed a three-story brick building with its corners
oriented to the points of the compass so that every room would have
a little bit of sunshine every day. The new Saint Josephs
Home opened September 12, 1926. The new home was described as a
model of its type, of ample size for present and immediate future
needs. This tribute later appeared in the newspaper: Beside
throbbing highway 66, near the junction where life flows to, from,
and around our city, stands Saint
Josephs Home, haven for the aged.
In its first 100 years, Saint
Josephs Home has weathered two world wars, dramatic societal
revolutions, and extensive changes in both regulations and cultural
expectations regarding care of the aged. The Home has progressed from
a haven of rest for mostly healthy elderly to a residential
care center that is licensed for round-the-clock, intermediate nursing
care as well as shelter care.
One hundred years ago, Sr. Philomine, one of Saint Josephs Homes
foundresses, told the newspaper: We do not undertake to enforce
any strict or stringent rules, but treat the old people with as much
liberality as possible. Many of them are childish and feeble, and
we treat them as children. It is not possible to fix any set rules
for their management, and we endeavor to be guided by what is best
in each individual case. Whatever will contribute to the comfort and
happiness and well-being of the inmates it is our duty to do.
She continued: Like the hospital, this home will be open to
all Catholic and Protestant alike. We ask no questions concerning
the religion of one who enters the home, and we do not attempt to
thrust our belief on those who are under our care. (State Journal-Register,
December 13, 2002.)
Today, the philosophy of the Sisters of Saint Francis at Saint Josephs
Home is much the same: to serve the aging in an environment
which fosters respect for persons; to provide care to lessen and alleviate
needs; to encourage fruitful and independent living within individual
limits; and, in an ecumenical spirit, to assist residents in the growth
of their relationship to God so that their final years may be enriched
and peaceful. Following the example of their patron, Francis of Assisi,
and their foundress, Mother Mary Pacifica Forrestal, the Sisters are
especially mindful of the needs of the poor.