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Motherhouse

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Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati


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n Sept. 29, 1869, Biggs Farm in Delhi Township, west of Cincinnati, was purchased by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. A frame structure was added to the brick house on the property. Renamed St. Joseph, this became the Community’s Novitiate and served as the home for the Novices for 14 years. In 1880 the Sisters’ Council purchased adjoining farms as the site for the Motherhouse, and by Nov. 21, 1880, the Council agreed upon a “conveyance of land” to Mrs. Betz of Delhi. Her 31¼ acres (including house, barn, and improvements) in exchange for our 43 acres (no buildings). In 1882, ground was broken for the new Motherhouse, and construction of the first wing (west) had begun. This was completed and occupied in 1884. Almost one year after its completion, this wing burned to the ground (July 16, 1885). Within days after the fire, materials designated for the east wing were used to start the rebuilding of the west wing. It was completed and occupied by 1886. Construction of the central and east wing was begun in 1892 and completed by 1895. It housed the offices of the Motherhouse, the Novitiate and the homes of the Sisters, Novices and Postulants, and the future Mount St. Joseph Academy (1906-1947). The chapel wing was finished last. The cornerstone (outside the sacristy door) says 1893-1895. Work continued off and on over the following six years, interrupted sometimes by financial necessity or by delays in deliveries. The completion and dedication of the chapel occurred in 1901. On September 14, 1920, Mount St. Joseph on-the-Ohio opened at the Motherhouse. It was one of Ohio’s first Catholic colleges for women; it began with 20 students and 11 faculty members. As the College continued to grow, plans were made to open a new campus on a 75-acre tract adjacent to the Motherhouse; official groundbreaking for the new campus took place March 19, 1960. Today the Motherhouse and its vast expanse can be seen from numerous places around the Delhi area. The red brick building that overlooks the Ohio River is well known as the home of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, a peaceful place used for numerous activities, including a residential area for Sisters, meeting space, a center for retreats and home to various Congregational offices.


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Associate Office Located on the second floor of the Motherhouse, the office supports the Associate relationship – lay women and men who partner with the Sisters in responding to the Gospel in the spirit of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Three opportunities are available to those who feel called to become formally associated with the Sisters of Charity: Associates in Mission, Associates in Volunteer Ministry and Associates in Community. Learn more at www.srcharitycinti.org/assoc.htm.

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Beauty Salon As an amenity for the Sisters living at the Motherhouse, a beauty salon has been available since the 1970s. Beginning in 1990 services for the salon were expanded; a room on the first floor of Marian Hall was equipped and amenities were offered to all Sisters and patrons of Eldermount.

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Cemetery Tucked behind the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, along the rolling green hills and amongst large shaded trees, is the Mount St. Joseph cemetery. More than 1,700 Sisters are buried on the grounds; each year close to 20 more burials take place. The first grave, June 1883, was that of Mother Regina Mattingly. In 1909, a center circle was reserved for the graves of the original members of the Cincinnati Sisters of Charity; future Mothers were also buried here. At his own request, Bishop Thomas S. Byrne (a former chaplain for 18 years) was buried in the circle.

Community Room The Community Room, since November 1996, has been situated on the first floor of the Motherhouse opposite the dining rooms. Originally, the room was the Priests’ Dining Room, serving the chaplain, resident priests on the College faculty, retreat masters and visiting priests. Today Sisters are able to relax in the room and enjoy the quiet gathering space.


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Dining Room The room itself has not changed location since opening in 1896, on the first floor of the Motherhouse. The large room directly below the Motherhouse chapel was divided by retractable doors into two dining rooms – the east side for the Sisters and the west side for students and guests. During the summer months, when the Sisters were home for summer school or retreats, the doors were opened to form one large room. Originally, the walls were adorned with murals painted by four Sister artists at various times between 1901 and 1925. They were removed in 1963 when the dining rooms were redecorated.

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Emmaus Room This large room was a gym, first for boys from St. Aloysius Academy, housed at Mount St. Joseph (1890-1906), then for the girls of Mt. St. Joseph Academy (1906-1947) and for College students until 1962. During the summer sessions for the Sisters it was frequently a classroom. The Post Office was there from 1973-1988. Today the Emmaus Room is used by the Spirituality Center as a place to gather for programs and retreats.

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Foskey: Art Room S. Ernestine Foskey, who was educated at the Cincinnati Art Academy under Frank Duveneck and a prolific SC artist, is one of the Cincinnati artists featured in the Sisters of Charity Art Room. The Art Room, constructed between 1892 and 1895, with its ornate woodwork balcony, wrought-iron railings on the stairs and second-floor balcony and ceiling medallions make it one of the most beautiful rooms in the building. A rosette theme is carried through in the woodwork under the balcony, along the outer edge of the balcony, and in the ceiling. The stained-glass windows in the doors were created by art students at the College of Mount St. Joseph under the direction of S. Augusta Zimmer. True to its purpose, this room features paintings, furniture, pottery, and other art pieces, many that were gifts to the Community by family members of the Sisters, friends, and clergy.


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Gift Shop Re-organized in 1991 and brought up to award status by S. Giovanni Vastano in 1994, the Motherhouse Gift Shop was named the best in Cincinnati by the 18th annual Best and Worst Edition of Cincinnati Magazine. Today the Gift Shop, located on the south side of the first floor next to the Arts and Crafts Room, includes items such as rosaries, greeting cards, prayer cards, baby blankets, books and more. For more information contact 513-347-5758. Across the hall is the Mount St. Joseph Talent Education Cello Studio.

Halloran Room This meeting room is on the second floor. From at least 1906, it was a large classroom, first for the Academy and then the College. Shortly after the College moved to its new campus in 1962, the room became the central office for the Archives. After the Archives moved to Seton Hall, it was used by the Executive Council for meetings. Today various groups use the room, which is named for S. Elise Halloran, longtime Congregational Treasurer.

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Immaculate Conception Chapel Built in the shape of a Latin cross, this magnificent four-story chapel is a blend of Romanesque and Renaissance architecture, designed by Adolph Druiding. Vaulted ceilings coalesce to form a central dome, which is enhanced with a mural painted by Richard Bachman. The dome contains a monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament surrounded by four doctors of the Church. The sanctuary mural (pictured), depicting the Blessed Mother, was done by William Lambrecht. The Community completed renovation of the chapel in 2000. A circular theme is carried out in a new octagonal altar which sits on a circular peninsula extending into the body of the chapel, a new baptismal font, and a semi-circular seating pattern using both chairs and some of the original pews. The marble from the original altar was reconfigured and used in the baptismal font and in the base of the tabernacle.


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Joys of Community: Heritage Room This large room, directly across the hall from the chapel, was known as the Archbishop’s Room. The eastern section of the room was a bedroom where in case of inclement weather he would stay overnight. The western part was used as a vesting room for Mass and also for private conferences with the Archbishop. In 1984, after renovation, the room was renamed and used for receptions and to display panels depicting the history of the Community.

Kinglet: Clifford Bird Observatory Many bird species, including the Kinglet, can be found in the Clifford Bird Observatory, located in the St. Theresa Courtyard. The Clifford Bird Observatory opened in the fall 2007, and is named after S. Adele Clifford, a former Mount St. Joseph University president, biology chair and avid bird watcher. The bird banding station allows the Sisters of Charity and the University to educate the public, inventory migratory birds, and become part of the global effort for bird conservation.


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Labyrinth Located on the Motherhouse grounds, the Sisters of Charity dedicated its labyrinth on June 2, 2002. A labyrinth uses a defined path to assist the “pilgrim” in walking daily into the future. The Motherhouse labyrinth uses the same design as that of Notre Dame Chapel in Chartres, France, which dates from 1221. The labyrinth is open to the public; please contact the Spirituality Center at 513-347-5449 for more information.

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McCann Room Built in 1886 as part of the rebuilt west wing of the Motherhouse, the McCann Room served as St. Aloysius Academy’s Infirmary from 1891 to 1906. Later it was used as a large classroom for Mount St. Joseph Academy and the College of Mount St. Joseph In 1987 the room became part of the Archives and is used as a display room for historic artifacts. It was named the McCann Room in 2004 to honor S. Mary Agnes McCann, an outstanding Sisters of Charity archivist and historian.


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Nursing Care: Mother Margaret Hall

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Mother Margaret Hall, attached to the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, provides a caring home for Sisters of Charity who need nursing assistance. A licensed nursing home, Mother Margaret Hall provides rehabilitation, pastoral care, social services and activities for Sisters in nursing and in Assisted Living. Mother Margaret Hall is committed to the holistic approach in health care. It is named for Mother Margaret George, the first Mother of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.

OPJCC The mission of the Office of Peace, Justice and Care for Creation is to move the work of justice through education, advocacy and action rooted in our Sisters of Charity charism which calls us to be agents of change. Located on the second floor of the Motherhouse, OPJCC provides education, advocacy and action opportunities for our Sisters and Associates as well as the local, state, national and international community of our sisters and brothers. Learn more at www.srcharitycinti.org/opjic.htm.

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Post Office The Mount St. Joseph Post Office, established in 1892 and a U.S. postal station, is a clearing house for inter-campus mail – Motherhouse, Mother Margaret Hall, Bayley, Mount St. Joseph University and the neighborhood. The Post Office has moved four times since its original location on the second floor of Marian Hall. Today it is located on the first floor of Marian, and continues to serve as a gathering place of activity for Sisters, students and neighbors.

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Quiet: Spirituality Center The Spirituality Center provides opportunities for spiritual enrichment to the Community through a wide variety of programs, offering weekend/overnight retreats, private retreats, days of reflection, evening prayer programs, massage therapy, and a labyrinth. The Center also provides individual spiritual direction for women and men. Motivated by the Sisters of Charity vision to share faith and resources, the mission of the Spirituality Center is to provide opportunities for growth by deepening faith life, strengthening efforts toward community building, reaching out to the needs of the community and heightening awareness of Gospel values. Learn more at www.srcharitycinti.org/spirit.htm.


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Regina Hall The building now known as Regina Hall was built around 1893. It is constructed of limestone, the same material used in the first Motherhouse which burned to the ground in 1885. From its beginning, it was used as a laundry, answering the needs of a busy Motherhouse, Infirmary, Academy and College, before becoming the College’s Social Hall and art studio. In 1962, the College of Mount St. Joseph moved leaving Regina Hall for the Sisters’ use – parties, meetings, etc. The ground floor space was eventually converted into an apartment called “The Hermitage.” In 1985, the second floor of Regina Hall was remodeled and refurnished for a chaplain’s residence. In the past 16 years, it has housed chaplains and annually some visiting retreat directors.

Rose Room The Rose Room, located on the second floor of Marian Hall, is in the oldest section of the Motherhouse. It initially served as a chapel before becoming a place for special gatherings for the Mount St. Joseph Academy and the College of Mount St. Joseph. Renovated in 1994, it is used for retreats, conferences, meetings and gatherings of many kinds both by Sisters of Charity groups and for others who convene at the Motherhouse.

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St. Mary’s Hall Built as an infirmary for the Sisters, patient rooms, treatment rooms and baths were on the first, second and third floors. The ground floor housed the kitchen, laundry and utility rooms. This facility, simply called “The Infirmary,” was used until May 3, 1949, when the patients were moved to Mother Margaret Hall. Today, the ground floor is used by Maintenance; above is the Respite Center for the Motherhouse Sisters; a Motherhouse resident area; and the Executive Offices.

Seton Hall In 1925, the General Council decided to construct a building to expand the College just west of the overcrowded Marian Hall. Architects Crowe and Schulte were chosen to draw up plans for a structure that would include dormitories, classrooms, laboratories and a library. Ground was broken March 4, 1926. Seton Hall served the College of Mount St. Joseph for 35 years. When a new campus opened Seton Hall was put to a variety of uses, including the Seton House of Studies, home for the second year Novices and temporary professed Sisters, and the Early Learning Center, eventually the Mount Campus School. Since the late 1990s, Seton’s second floor has been utilized by the Finance Office; the first floor by the Transportation Office, Communications Office, and Archives. The upper floors are Sisters’ residences and rooms for Motherhouse guests.


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Transportation The Motherhouse Transportation Department provides services that meet the specific needs and expectations of the residents of the Motherhouse, Mother Margaret Hall and the Community. Located on the first floor of Seton Hall, the department provides services to individuals and groups to and from locations throughout the Greater Cincinnati area for ministry, medical, social and recreational purposes.

Unending Events: Cedars Auditorium Completed in the 1890s, in the East Wing of the Motherhouse, this room was originally called “Assembly Hall” or “Summer Chapel.” In 1922 the large room was converted into an auditorium with a large stage on the north side. It was used by the Academy and the College of Mount St. Joseph. It also served as an assembly hall for the Sisters – retreats, lectures, movies, etc. In 1979, the room was remodeled and divided into one large room (Cedars Auditorium) and two smaller meeting rooms (known today as the Lotus and Piñon rooms).


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St. Vincent Hall Built in 1937 to replace the fire-damaged northeast corner of the Motherhouse, the lower floor included offices, a bakery and the employees’ dining room, and the second and third floors housed Sister residents. Today, on the first floor are the kitchen and the bakery, and the second and third floors serve as office space for Plant Operations.

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Water: Swimming Pool Opening on July 4, 1963, the Motherhouse Swimming Pool is located next to Regina Hall. It offers a refreshing retreat for Sisters, Associates, SC and Bayley employees and their families, students of Mount St. Joseph University and other community members.


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Xtra-ordinary Hospitality The main entrance to the Motherhouse was originally on the second floor. Iron steps led to a porch and to the main door. Eventually, the first floor became the main entrance where a receptionist welcomes visitors, and the Hospitality Office coordinates the details of the ever-busy Motherhouse schedule. To plan your next event contact 513-347-5346.

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Yesteryear: Archives The Archives collects, organizes, preserves and makes available information and materials pertaining to the history and spirit of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Originally housed in the office of the Secretary of the Congregation it eventually moved to the second floor of Marian Hall. Since 1998, the Archives has been located in Seton Hall, with offices on the first floor and the Repository on the ground floor.

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Zimmer: Parlors S. Augusta Zimmer’s art is featured in two of the parlors or sitting rooms located on the second floor near the main staircase. Another parlor displays artifacts associated with S. Blandina Segale. These rooms are used for receiving visitors, meetings and retreats.

To schedule a tour of the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse and its many gems, please contact S. Judith Metz, SC at 513-347-4058.


5900 Delhi Road Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051 www.srcharitycinti.org www.facebook.com/sistersofcharityofcincinnati


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