I have a deep interest in the history of New York City orphanages. My grandfather, Thomas E. Pryor, spent seven years in Father Drumgoole’s Staten Island orphanage, Mount Loretto. Father Drumgoole first orphanage was for Homeless Newsboys at 53 Warren Street two blocks from City Hall. Prior to building the Staten Island complex, Father Drumgoole built “City House,” a ten story orphanage which stood at the northeast corner of Lafayette Street & Great Jones Street. It’s now the parking lot directly across the street from the restaurant that was formerly The Time Café.
Last week, I was in Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. I had time to kill before an appointment and walked around the neighborhood. At 12th Avenue & 64th Street I passed a property with a long tall wall surrounding most of the site. I saw an entrance open and walked in to a huge complex with a large garden taking up half the space. A fellow was working on his car, I asked him where I was, “The Angel Guardian Home for Little Children,” he said.
The Home opened in 1899; if you go to the link you can read a New York Times article about the event. I walked around for 20 minutes and thought about the loss of family and being little in this place and though the garden was pretty not much else cheered me up. The worn beauty is interesting and the enormity of the institution is awe inspiring but it’s a sad place. Here is a link to the photos I took.