I heard that the Poydras Home for the elderly used to be an orphanage. Is that true?
Dear Billy Joe,
The Uptown institution, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, has its roots in a group called the Female Orphan Society, founded in 1817 by Protestants who came to New Orleans from New England. Initially, volunteers housed young orphaned girls in their own homes but soon realized the need for more organization. "They began soliciting female friends, who, by paying eight dollars, could become 'subscribers' to underwrite the project," historian Pamela Tyler explains in her book New Orleans Women and the Poydras Home: More Durable Than Marble (LSU Press).
Their first brick-and-mortar institution opened in March 1817 and was located at St. Charles Avenue and Julia Street. The house sat on land donated by merchant and planter Julien Poydras, for whom the orphanage was named. Some 40 years later, the facility moved to a new location at Magazine Street and Jefferson Avenue (then called Peters Street). A three-story Poydras Asylum opened there in 1857 and served local children for 100 years. In 1957, the facility converted to caring for the elderly rather than the young.
The new mission brought a structural change: Architects designed a plan to remove the top two floors of the original building during renovations. Tyler explains that by the spring of 1960, the home had accepted the first four residents of the new Poydras Home for Elderly Ladies. The facility continues to operate as a retirement home for men and women, offering independent, assisted living and nursing care.