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The Doane Orphanage
by Linda Abrams- Curator, Longmeadow Historical Society- May 2009

In 1902, George Sanford Doane and his wife Lucy Maria Cook. after suffering the loss of all their children to various childhood illnesses, established an Orphanage at the corner of Longmeadow Street and Forest Glen Road. At that time George and Lucy were in their 50's and desired to create a loving educational institution for the many homeless orphans in Springfield.

They purchased two acres and had two buildings erected; one facing Longmeadow Street that was the girls’ dormitory and the other facing Forest Glen Road that was the boys’ dormitory.  In the rear was an old large barn with all three buildings around a central playground. At first the children were educated at the orphanage, later the children attended Center School, and lastly Converse Street School before the Orphanage was closed in 1930.


Paesiello Emerson (?) taking photo
128_572 (April 14, 1915)

George Sanford Doane was a direct descendant of John Doane who immigrated to Plymouth in 1635 and who later settled in Eastham and married Hannah Bangs. There is a very large glacial rock in Eastham, known as Doane's Rock located on the original Doane property, now part of the National Seashore, should you happen to visit the area.

The buildings of the Doane Orphanage are long gone replaced by 20th century homes but the address then was 17 Longmeadow Street. The first Superintendent of the Orphanage was Mrs. Cornelia E Blake.  Mr. and Mrs. Doane, after establishing the Orphanage, built a home at 133 Longmeadow Street.  Satisfied that the Orphanage was being well-run and well-funded, the Doanes moved to Pasadena, California, at the time thought of as a healthy place to retire to, but both died soon after their arrival.

In the 1910 Census, 24 children, ages 6 to 11, were residents of the Orphanage with birthplaces ranging including Massachusetts, Vermont, Ohio, Maine and Connecticut. The 1920 Census showed 28 children ranging in age from 5 to 12.  In many cases brothers and sisters were paired together.

Miss Georgia Robinson succeeded Mrs Blake as Superintendent and changed the plan of operation from that of an old fashioned institution to one which gave individual treatment to the children. Oddly, when prohibition went into effect, the number of children brought to the Orphanage declined. This led to the eventual closure with remaining funds used toward tuition of the last children at private boarding schools.


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Longmeadow Historical Society

697 Longmeadow Street
Longmeadow, MA 01106
(413) 567-3600
LongmeadowHS@gmail.com
 
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