St. Joseph's Home of Springfield
"Home for a Hundred Years"
A 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 it today.
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 Springfield.
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.
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