Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New York Orphanages - A View To The Past

Thomas E. Pryor at orphanage in 1914
I have a strong 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 at 53 Warren Street two blocks from City Hall was for homeless newsboys. Prior to building the Staten Island complex through farm purchases, Father Drumgoole built “City House,” a ten story orphanage which stood at the northeast corner of Lafayette Street and Great Jones Street. It’s now the parking lot directly across the street from the restaurant that used to be The Time CafĂ©. You can still see two City House chapel windows on a section of the building that remains behind the parking lot.
Thomas E. Pryor orphanage intake/outtake card
In 2011, I was in Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. I had time to kill before an appointment and walked around the neighborhood. At 12th Avenue and 64th Street I passed a property with a long tall wall surrounding most of the site. I saw an open entrance 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 above 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 spot. I can only imagine how difficult it must be trying to get through your childhood without family.

If you like my work check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." Available at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, May 9th @ 7pm to 10pm 

Ryan’s Daughter, 350 East 85th Street (between First & Second Avenue).

Our Stoops to Nuts artists: Abbi CrutchfieldWalter Michael DeForestJoe Dettmore,Apryl MillerLiz PhillipsLuke Thayer and Eric Vetter and musical guests. I'll host and tell a good one. Free storytelling, free music, free comedy, a beer special and real prizes. I’m giving good stuff away. I’m 61, what’s my daughter going to do with this crap?

“The Angel Guardian Home for Little Children,”

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