Ramsey County History – Spring 2002: “Donations and Their Own Pockets—An Orphanage’s Roots in 1869 St. Paul”

Paul D. Nelson

Donations and Their Own Pockets—An Orphanage’s Roots in 1869 St. Paul
Author: Paul D. Nelson

This article examines the St. Joseph’s Orphanage by looking at the experiences of the Postlewaite family. In the early days, it was a German institution which bought a forty-seven acre plot of land at Randolph and Hamline Avenues, then out on the edge of the city. Russell and Helen Postlewaite were married in 1932 and had six children. Because both the parents were in ill health in 1945, Janet Postlewaite and her five siblings were placed at the St. Joseph’s Orphanage at 1458 Randolph Avenue. Almost all of the food supply of the institution was grown in the orphanage’s gardens as part of a closely regulated life with a fixed daily schedule. The need for an orphanage such as St. Joseph’s was coming to an end due to a greater reliance in the community on foster care, and, in 1960, Archbishop William O. Brady decided to close the home. It was torn down two years later. The article concludes with a brief account of what the Postlewaite children did after they left the orphanage. They all went to St. Mark’s School, and several of them went on to college.
PDF of Nelson article