Remembering Girls' Town of America, Cincinnati, Ohio
A rich source of information about institutions run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in the mid- to late twentieth century is Nancymarie Phillips's 2008 doctoral dissertation, Education for girls in the House of the Good Shepherd in the United States, 1940 to 1980. Based on interviews and correspondence with ten former students and over fifty Sisters from Good Shepherd schools, Phillips captured memories of rapidly aging women with firsthand knowledge of these institutions, from a time when they were still widespread in the U.S., though beginning to dwindle. She also examined primary sources, including uncataloged documents from the Provincial Archives in St. Louis, and a wide range of published secondary sources.
Phillips wrote, "The final demise of the Good Shepherd schools was attributed to financial difficulties and decreased referrals by the juvenile court system." (p. 268) This was the case for Girls' Town. In 1959, Mt. St. Mary's School for Girls in Price Hill closed and Girls' Town absorbed its residents. "Remodeled dormitories and facilities at Girls' Town can accommodate 112 girls, about the same number as are now being served by both agencies," noted a newspaper article from June 1959, two months before the scheduled merger. ("Mt. St. Mary's and Girls' Town to Merge, Use Same Quarters," Cincinnati Post Times-Star, June 24, 1959, 7:1.)
The Sisters also made efforts to reduce the footprint of their land holdings, which over time had become larger than they needed. Correspondence with Archbishop McNicholas in the late 1920's, 1930's and 1940's mentions obtaining permission from the Motherhouse in Angers, France, and the Holy See, as well as the Archbishop, to sell various parcels ( Archdiocese of Cincinnati Archives, Archbishop McNicholas Papers, Drawer 15 Folder 54, 55, 56; Mother M. of St. Alberta, Provincial, to Msgr. Albers, Chancery Office, October 4, 1929; Sr. M. of St. Alberta to Very Rev. Msgr. Matthias Heyker, Chancery Office, June 7, 1939; Sr. M. of St. Sylvester to McNicholas, March 25, 1943).
In 1956, Girls' Town offered to sell 88 acres of undeveloped land to Hamilton County for a stadium for "professional football and baseball contests, boxing matches, theatrical presentations, and other large displays which cannot be held indoors." The newspaper article noted the site "is easily accessible and in the center of the population shift to the north," but this arrangement never materialized ("Girl's Town Offers County Stadium Site," Cincinnati Post, August 10, 1956, 1:1). The Procter and Gamble Company had built a research facility on Center Hill Road, abutting the Girls' Town property. The company bought 88 acres fronting on Center Hill Road from the Convent of the Good Shepherd in December 1956 ("Procter & Gamble Buys 144-Acre Tract in Northern Cincinnati for Future Use," Cincinnati Enquirer, December 7, 1956).
A 1958 letter to Archbishop Alter says the remaining property constitutes 90 acres. The Sisters sold an additional 5 acres to Procter and Gamble at $10, 000 per acre in 1966. (Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Archbishop Alter Papers, Belmont Avenue, Religious Communities, Box 10, Good Shepherd Sisters (Carthage) 1950- file, Sr. M. Alphonsus to Alter, August 12, 1958 ; Box 6 - Religious Communities. Sisters of the Good Shepherd, file 1, Sr. Mary Clare to Alter, Oct. 22, 1966; Alter to Mother Mary Clare, Provincial, October 24, 1966.)
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