Chatham Square Association

Fair Haven is a Diverse Community with a Rich History and a Beautiful Waterfront

Celebrating Women's History Month and Mary Wade

A sustained charitable impulse was present in New Haven during the late eighteen hundreds, and there were a number of philanthropic institutions already in operation.  Among the many emergent organizations serving the “virtuous poor”, there continued to be a challenge to attend the needs of “vagrant young females”. 

That concern started toward reality when Mrs. Eli Whitney invited ten ladies to her home at the corner of Elm and Orange Streets on September 8, 1866 to plan a refuge for these waifs of society.  Those present were Mrs. Roger S. Baldwin, Mrs. William T. Eustis, Mrs. Charles Fabrique, Mrs. Wooster Hotchkiss, Mrs. Peletiah Perit, Mrs. S. Dryden Phelps, Mrs. Judson A. Root, Mrs. Joseph E. Sheffield, Mrs. George Staples and Mrs. Alfred Walker.

Formally organized September 15, 1866 as the Home for the Friendless with Mrs. Sheffield as president of its all women Board of Managers, the Home appointed an Advisory Council of gentlemen who concerned themselves with its financial wellbeing.  The members were Amos F. Barnes, Reverend Joseph Brewster, William DeForest, M.D., Charles Fabrique, John C. Hollister and Morris Tyler.  Among the many donors were Mrs. William B. Bristol, Mr. Henry Farnum and the Misses Susan and Elizabeth Hotchkiss.

By 1899 the original wood structure, the former home of Joseph H. Rogers, had been replaced by the present building, including the wing on Clinton Avenue, made possible by a twenty thousand dollar gift from Mrs. Lucy Boardman in honor of her sister, Mrs. Mary P. Wade.

The Transition in physical facilities was accomplished by a transition in the character of its residents as the proportion of older ladies in the home increased.  So, in 1902, it was decided to maintain the home entirely for women.  A change of name was in order, and in 1931 the Home for the Friendless became The Mary Wade Home.

As times and needs changed, so did The Mary Wade Home.  In 1983 it opened its doors to men and married couples.  In 1976 it opened membership on its Board of Managers to men, eliminating the need for an Advisory Council.

The most dramatic change in its expansion of service to the elderly had its genesis in the early 1980’s when the Board of Managers, under the determined leadership of its president, Mrs. Herbert A. Steinnecker, decided to build a sixty bed nursing home addition to its Residential Care Home.

Completion of this four and a half million dollar project was accomplished under the leadership of Mrs. Charles A. Smith and Mrs. Quintin Johnstone and the first resident was admitted August 9, 1989.  Again, to address the increasing demands, a thirty-four bed addition to the nursing home was completed in 2012, which included an expansion of the adult day center to increase the daily capacity to sixty.

This brief history is written on the occasion of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Home in order to recognize those who had a major influence on its growth through the years.  It is a tribute to those Board Members and Volunteers who rallied to the call of those concerned with providing the highest quality medical and social programs and supervised residential services for those in need. 


David V. Hunter

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