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The Margaret Jenkins House Has Been Serving Baltimore Since 1889

The Margaret Jenkins House Has Been Serving Baltimore Since 1889

In 2008, WHC opened the Margaret Jenkins House, a 22 unit single-room dwelling for individuals experiencing homelessness to have permanent supportive housing.

This house, though built by Phillip Hanson Hiss as his personal home in 1868, has a long history of serving the children of Baltimore.

In 1889, Mrs. Margaret Anne Austin Jenkins, Mary Hebert, Mrs. Etts, and Cardinal Gibbons of the Baltimore Archdiocese observed that poor children were being abandoned at daycare centers. This prompted them to raise money to purchase the mansion on Maryland Avenue to be used as an orphanage. It was called St. Elizabeth’s School and included dorms and classrooms set up by Franciscan sisters. 

Though the affluent neighbors of the surrounding estates did not support the presence of the orphanage, Cardinal Gibbons worked to soothe their concerns and keep the orphanage open. He directed the sisters to build a wall around the home’s garden and fill the site with a chapel and expanded quarters.

By the 1920s, the orphanage took on the name St. Francis School and part of the building was converted to a convent of Franciscan sisters.

In the 1950s, the orphanage was repurposed to again serve the community as a day nursery for black children. The space had yet another transformation as the St. Francis School for Special Education to serve the mentally handicapped, for whom there were few options.

When the St. Francis School for Special Education moved to Argonne Drive, near where the Franciscan Sisters live now, the building was renamed the St. Elizabeth’s School.

In 2007, the Women’s Housing Coalition along with Homes for America, had the opportunity to purchase the building which continues to serve the citizens of Baltimore as the Margaret Jenkins House.