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"St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum Facts"

(Reprinted from the Bronx Times Reporter March 26, 1997)

St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum

Joe Gics recently inquired about the location of St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum in Throggs Neck. Since it closed down almost a century ago and was only in operation for about seven years, references to it are extremely scant.
It is listed in Hoffmann's Catholic Directory of 1894 and referred to in "Portrait of a Mother" by John L. Oberdorfer, C.SS.R., but neither gives us the location. The House Chronicle of Holy Redeemer Church kept by Rev. Carl Hoegerl, C.SS.R., preserves some of its history but again fails to precisely locate the asylum. The best clue comes from a Golden Jubilee book in the Redemptorist Archives in Brooklyn. Although written in German, the author, Georg Insold, C.SS.R. included a photograph in his volume.

Truly a picture is worth a thousand words as what we see is the old Pinto Mansion. It was located east of the old Weir Creek which has since been covered over by the Throgs Neck Expressway. Situated between Layton and Lafayette Avenues, it afforded one a grand view of the Long Island Sound.

Father Andreas Ziegler purchased thirty acres of Robert Turnbull's estate in July 1887. The purchase included the mansion and several out-buildings. They had been forced to obtain a place in the country by the Board of Health which continuously audited the orphanage on 89th Street in Manhattan.

Sister Valerie Zwerger and Sister Apolonia Gram opened the new asylum in Throggs Neck and several weeks later Sr. M. Erharda Pfisterer was appointed superior at the new facility which cared for only the sick children of the orphanage. The first mass there was celebrated by Rev. P. Lawrence Cahill, PSM in September. Six Sisters of Notre Dame ran the orphanage which housed approximately sixty children.

On October 24, 1889, the sick children were returned to 89th Street for the convenience of the attending physician and the orphan children of Most Holy Redeemer Church and Saint Alphonsus Church were sent to Throggs Neck to take their place. Since the primary reason for purchasing the property was the care of sick orphans, the facility no longer served the vital purpose for which it was opened. It was closed circa 1894 and the property was sold on April 19, 1906 to the Century Golf Club for use as a clubhouse.

When the Golf Club closed in 1915, the mansion passed through several hands before Mr. Pinto purchased it. It burned down on August 18, 1977 despite the efforts of firemen from four companies. The accompanying photograph was taken by John McNamara in 1932 with his ever-present Brownie camera. He was facing east when he snapped this shot of the historic building at Barkley and Clarence Avenues.

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