Then and Now
August 22, 2000
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by Tom McGehee
In March of 1932, the new Bishop Allen Memorial Home was dedicated on Catherine Street, overlooking bucolic Lyons Park. The handsome, reportedly fireproof structure was of brick with Alabama sandstone trim and completed at a Depression era sum of $300,000.
This institution had been founded in 1911 as the Alabama Maternity and Infant Care Home and located in the St. Anthony Street location vacated by the old Providence Hospital. Its original purpose was to care for abandoned babies and orphans to the age of six. It would later admit unwed mothers for care, offering "confidential attention and understanding during pregnancy."
The new building was named for the late Catholic Bishop who had been a strong supporter of the facility. Within were accommodations for 300 children and 20 maternity cases. There was a soundproof nursery for newborns, playrooms, a kindergarten and dining room for older children and quarters for the resident nurses and nuns.
By the early 1970ís the building had been converted to use as a nursing home. An overzealous fire marshal pronounced the structure unsafe and in 1975 it was replaced with a parking lot.
Credit: Thompson Collection, USA Archives; and Kevin Marston