« AnteriorContinuar »
erecting a good and substantial building for the reception of various classes of poor, and as an house of correction. Whereupon Messrs. Roome, Bayard, Fell, and Burger, who were Aldermen, with three other gentlemen, were appointed a committee to fix upon a suitable piece of ground, and to purchase materials for the purpose. They, eventually, chose a spot, then called the Vineyard; the very place on which now stands our City-Hall. The house erected was 65 feet by 24, two stories high, with good cellar apartments. The front room to the right, was appropriated to the use of the Superintendant; the first of whom was John Seabring, having a wife and one child. The upper room, on the west side, was used as an Infirmary; the first physician of which was Dr. John Van Buren, grandfather of the present Dr. Van · Buren of this city; who held his office thirty years. His salary was one hundred pounds a year; out of which he found his own medicines. Trustees, by an annual election, were appointed to the Institution, who regularly met once a week. The description of persons received to this house were--the Indigent Poor, the Sick, the Orphan, the Maniac, and the Refractory. This house of poor was supported out of what was then called the Minister's Fund, a small tax upon the inhabitants, and by voluntary contributions, which sometimes were very liberal. Besides, the clergy of this city benevolently took their turn, weekly, in preaching the Gospel to the poor.
When the war commenced between England and America, in the year 1776, it became necessary to remove the poor, first to West-Chester, and afterwards to Poughkeepsie, under the charge of Mr. John Forbes. During the war, however, the poor and the refractory were received into the Alms-House, then under the care of Mr. William Littlewood; who was permitted to draw King's rations for nine months, to support the poor. After this the Corporation appointed Samuel Bell, Esq. grandfather to the present deputy sheriff, Mr. James Bell, to the office of Superintendant of the establishment.-In consequence of the destructive fire which took place in this city on the 21st September, 1776, 300 destitute persons were received into this Institution.
On the establishment of the Independence of America, Christian benevolence to the poor assumed still more cheering features. The poor who were fostered in Poughkeepsie, returned to the city under the superintendance of Mr. Samuel Dodge. Several out buildings were soon erected on the premises, to make the Alms-House
more commodious.—The old school-house still remains.
The increase of population, and the great influx of emigrants from various parts of Europe, so exceedingly added to the number of the poor, that it became indispensably necessary to erect a more commodious Alms-House in Chamber-street; while, at the same time, the old site left a favourable space for erecting the present City-Hall. This house of poor is of brick, 260 feet by 44; with two projections in front, of 15 by 30. Possession of this establishment was taken in 1795.
From the more opulent and benevolent part of the community, about this period, a spirit of philanthropy began still more eminently to appear in favour of the needy and the destitute. For these purposes, various societies have been successively established-Here are public charity schools for indigent children-The widow with small children are fostered by a society of femalesBy another, clothing is provided for the naked By a provident society, the imprisoned debtor, with other necessitous persons, are supplied with refreshments-Aged widows, who once saw better days, are materially aided with necessary comforts to soften their pangs while closing the period of life-Here, too, as one of the brightest ornaments of our city, exists an asylum for helpless orphans, where they are tenderly fostered, and receive such education and religious precepts as promise the greatest advantage to the infants and to the general community. While these several acts of benevolence are honourable to human nature and to our citizens, we must confess that they are produced as the happy fruit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which we so plentifully enjoy.
For wise purposes, combining a greater number of objects, the Corporation of our City have erected this establishment at Bellevue-the CHAPEL of which we this day open for divine worship. * The first stone of this building was laid August 1, 1811, by the Honourable De Witt Clinton, Mayor of the City. The premises, at present, occupy about seventeen acres of ground. The building itself is 320 feet by 50; with two wings, 100 by 50 feet. Two hospitals are in the rear, 75 by 25 feet, three stories high. A penitentiary is also erected for the confinement of those who have committed petit larceny: likewise a spacious work-shop, 200 feet by 25. These extensive
* The Chapel is 60 by 46, and 30 feet in height, with three spa. cious galleries; the whole finished with propriety and neatness.
buildings, no doubt, will accommodate various classes of the poor and unfortunate, to the advantage of society. To these will be added separate schools for the male and female children to receive plain education and religious instruction; in hope, by the benediction of God, that they may become useful citizens.
About four years ago I had the pleasure of presenting to the Honourable the Corporation, a plan for establishing an asylum for vagrant youth. Many of this description, for a great length of time, arparently without parents or friends to foster their tender years, have infested our streets, markets, and wharves; too frequently committing depredations on the public, and viciously destroying themselves. - And, it is a fact, for the want of such an asylum, there are now so many criminal children consigned to the dreadful walls of our State Prison. It would, indeed, be a luxury to my heart, to live and see an asylum of this description combined with this Institution, in which such young unfortunates might be rescued from vice, inured to habits of industry, and receive such a portion of education as may render them useful to the public.
Collect what I have now delivered from the Old and the New Testaments, and the various