The LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR, a Catholic religious order dedicated to helping the elderly poor, have operated a care facility in Cleveland since June 1870. The order originated in France in 1839. Seven Little Sisters came to Cleveland in May 1870 at the invitation of Bp. AMADEUS RAPPE. They opened a rest home on Erie (E. 9th) St. near ST. JOHN CATHEDRAL; it was one of 13 U.S. homes opened by the order between 1868 and 1872. This facility accommodated only 12 people, and in Mar. 1871 the sisters moved to a larger home at 281 Perry (E. 22nd) St., which, after remodeling, housed 63. The Home for the Aged expanded in 1877 and again in 1890; in 1896 16 nuns provided food, clothing, and nursing care for its 100 men and 98 women.

The home accepted anyone, regardless of religion or race. To be admitted, one needed to be destitute, older than 60, and of good moral character. The home was supported by charitable donations, with much support from non-Catholics. Except for the City Infirmary, the home was the county's largest facility for the elderly for many years. In 1937 70 women and 130 men lived there; capacity was 214 in 1941. As social security and pensions developed, the home began to accept people with limited incomes, in addition to the destitute. In 1957 urban renewal necessitated that the Little Sisters of the Poor and CATHOLIC CHARITIES begin to plan a new home, which was built in 1960 and opened on 21 Apr. 1961. Located at 4291 Richmond Rd. in WARRENSVILLE TWP., the SS. Mary & Joseph Home housed 235 residents. By the Little Sisters' 100th year in Cleveland, they had cared for 9,850 elderly. In 1971 the home received state certification as a nursing home as well as a rest home, providing increasingly professional care as the number of lay employees increased from 30 to 85. In Mar. 1985 the home had 145 residents and offered residential facilities for independent living.

Archives, Diocese of Cleveland.


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