The Sisters of St. Joseph commissioned the construction of St. Mary’s
Home in 1883. The Sisters bought five acres of swampland at East 26th
and Ash Streets for five thousand dollars. On September 21st, 1884, St.
Mary’s home opened, welcoming fifteen elderly people who had been
transferred from St. Vincent’s Hospital. St. Mary’s was one of the
first homes in the United States dedicated to caring for the elderly.
By 1890, the Sisters realized that they needed to open their doors to
more people, prompting them to accept the “friendless and feeble of the
Diocese” along with some children from the overcrowded orphanage. In
1890, St. Mary’s added a chapel to their property to help comfort those
who were unable to walk to St. John’s Parish, which is one block from
In 1906, construction began on an addition that would expand St. Mary’s
Home. Upon completion, fifty residents could be accommodated. During
this time, the chapel was enlarged. These additions allowed St. Mary’s
to grow with the City of Erie’s population boom of the early twentieth
century. Unfortunately, in 1927 a disastrous fire destroyed St. Mary’s
Home. It took all of the Erie firemen along with others to put out the
fire. The fire displaced St. Mary’s residents, who were taken in by
family, friends, St. Vincent’s Hospital, the Lutheran Home, and the
Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Home. After extensive reconstruction, St. Mary’s
reopened March 31, 1928. By the following year, over seven hundred
residents were living at St. Mary’s, and it was apparent that an
addition would have to be built. Bishop John Mark Gannon donated
$25,000 donated for the new addition, which was completed in 1930. This
created enough space for seventy new residents. More additions followed
until 1955 when the sisters, along with Bishop Gannon, commissioned the
construction of St. Mary’s Geriatric Hospital, which would serve St.
Mary’s residents and the local elderly community. Upon completion, the
hospital accommodated 110 beds with 45 private rooms.
Two decades later, St. Mary’s recognized the need to accommodate a
larger population. The construction of yet another addition began in
1976 and was completed one year later. The following year, St. Mary’s
had reached full occupancy. Over the last forty years, St. Mary’s Home
has continued to expand. In 2004, a new campus was constructed in
Millcreek, known as St. Mary’s at Asbury Ridge. In 2016, both campuses
have continued to serve the elderly population in Erie.