Home of the Good Shepherd Original Building
During the time Rev. John Breckenridge Gibson was rector of the Bethesda Church in Saratoga Springs, 1866-1869, this institution, the first charity was started in town at the suggestion of Mrs. Gibson, Mrs. Thomas J. Marvin, and Mrs. William Bryar White.
These good women and others of the church associated with them in their visitations among, the poor and afflicted discovered the need of some place where the sick and the aged could be cared for as old age came upon them.
One of the ladies, in her mission work, found in a back upper room in a poor neighborhood, a well-educated middle aged sick woman who had anxiously looked forward to the time when she might be moved to a Christian Home to die. A small hotel was rented on the corner of Broadway and Walton Street, and was occupied for a time, bit in the spring of 1869, property on the west side of Catherine Street, east of North Broadway, running north from Rock Street, was purchased. The two-story wooden building was used for several years.
A Mission Sunday school under the care of the rector and officers of the church was started in the middle apartment of this building, with Mr. N.B Sylvester as first superintendent. It had an average attendance of forty to fifty, with many more upon the lists. This building was moved across the street, and the present No. 3 schoolhouse erected on the ground afterward.
While the question of a transient and permanent home for respectable women of all ages, who were alone in the world, was being agitated, a daughter of a prominent resident died, and her parents, finding the savings in her little bank amounted to five dollars, asked Dr. Gibson how the money could be best used. He replied, "Let it be the nucleus for the home about to be established." A few days later a family of children of respectable parents was left orphaned and destitute. There being no orphanage in Saratoga, two noble Christian women said, "We must take care of these little ones. Let us look upon these fatherless and motherless ones as the Lord's children, select a house, and call it the Home of the Good Shepherd.
So, public sympathy was aroused, and the money found in the child's little bank headed the subscription list. Several ladies and gentleman gave three hundred dollars each to found the home, and work was well begun. Early in 1870, measures were taken to have the institution incorporated, which came to completion in May 1870.
Later the present fine lot upon which the home building now stands was purchased. The house then standing on the land had been the Hamilton summer home. It was a large commodious house, and was fitted up and occupied for many years. But the requirements grew and the managers of the "home" bent their efforts towards accumulating a fund to warrant new construction.
The annual August bazaar and sale was inaugurated, donations were solicited, and the managers labored diligently toward the purpose they had set themselves, to the end that the old building was dedicated some years ago.