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An Orphanage in Brooklyn

Posted on the 13 April 2021 by Rvbadalam @Nimasema

An Orphanage in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Orphan Asylum


My wife's father, Bernard Joseph O'Brien, was a "half orphan." At age 7 his mother, Margaret, was forced to place Bernard and his older brother, John, in the "Brooklyn Orphan Asylum." Bernard's father had died suddenly, and his mother was unable to care for her three girls and two boys, so the boys went into the orphanage. It was an imposing brick and stone structure in the "Modern English Gothic" style that looked like a kid's nightmare vision of an "asylum."

Brooklyn Orphan Asylum sat on Atlantic Avenue, between St. Andrew’s Place and Kingston Avenue in what is now Bedford Stuyvesant. Brooklyn had a lot of orphans and half-orphans in the 19th century, the result of immigration, poverty, disease, and misfortune. Half-orphans had at least one parent, like Bernard, but that parent was unable to care for the child. Bernard and John entered the orphanage in 1902 and spent the next seven years there. They left as teenagers and rejoined their mother and sisters, went to work, and helped support the family.

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