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    vintage illustration of the Children's Home

    A New Home Location

    At this time the staff of the Home steered away from an “institutionalist” approach to care, and moved towards “the cultivation of homely joys and wholesome virtues characterized by home-life.” As a routine, all children woke up at 6:30 am, made their beds, ate breakfast, and then had to perform a household duty. For example, one seven year old girl would go every day into the office of the Superintendent to dust off chairs. These duties were necessary to keep the Home livable and clean, it was also necessary in making the child feel that they had a useful place in the Home.

    Meanwhile the campaign for a new building swung into full gear. Between May 8 and 18, 1920, the Board of Managers conducted a campaign to raise $150,000 for construction of a new Home. Liberty Bonds were accepted, and donors were reminded that charitable gifts were tax deductible up to 15% of one’s annual income.  Donation amounts ranged from $5 to $5,000. There were speeches and marches to bring attention to the necessity of a new Home for the children, as the old one was beyond repair. The campaign emphasized that a donation was more than just about the quality of a new Home, but an investment in the future of the community. As one editorialist wrote in 1921, “the money that is being spent on the children of today will not have to be spent on the prisons and almshouses of tomorrow.” Children also tried to help. One girl wrote to the local newspaper about turning in old license plates for money, which later would become a citywide project. 

    The present site of more than 20 acres was donated by Webb Floyd of New York City. The children had greater access to the outdoors than they had the previous Home. The beautiful location had a trolley connection to the City of Poughkeepsie and was supplied with city light and water. To the west one could see the Hudson River, to the north the Catskill Mountains, and to the south the Fishkill Mountains. Plans for the new building were approved by the State Board of Charities, and a $50,000 mortgage was secured. The cornerstone was laid in 1922, and on May 18 of the next year, 47 children in white uniforms and black stockings moved in carrying their dolls and toys. The Home had served 1,998 children by that time.

    With two full stories, terra cotta walls with a red tile roof, and built in the shape of a “T”, the children had a new place to explore and call home. The Home had a capacity of up to 70 people at a time, providing plenty of space for the children. The infirmary had isolation wards and a nursery full of equipment and blankets. 

    Soon a half-time follow-up worker was hired. A radio set was installed and manual training classes were started. The Home’s chickens produced eggs and the garden supplied vegetables. The new Home, with its vast amount of space, divided dormitories, and classrooms, was conducive to provide children with the “best training morally, physically, and educationally,” while also giving children the comfort of being in a real home, a feeling, as one observer remarked, they seemed to have lacked.