It is hard to believe that comparing two Queen Anne buildings constructed to house single women would involve European Renaissance history, the impact of the Protestant rebellion on the Catholic Church, and the exploitation of women workers in American hospitals. The buildings are the 1924 Frances Skinner Edris Nurses Home at First Ave. N. and Boston St., adjacent to the original Queen Anne site of Children’s Orthopedic Hospital; and the exquisite 1930 Saint Anne Convent at First Ave. W. and W. Comstock.
The historic link between the two buildings can be traced to the Reformation in the 16th century and the spread of Protestantism in Europe. Before the advent of Protestantism, all the nurses in European hospitals were nuns in the Catholic Church. Where Protestants became predominant, Catholic institutions including schools, universities and hospitals were shut down or replaced. The priests, monks and nuns were served in them were dispersed. As Sister Joseph of the Sisters of Providence Order, who founded the state’s first hospital, made clear, unlike 16th c. Central Europe or England, there was a place in the United States for hospitals associated with the Catholic Church. By the 20th c. in the United States, the women working as nurses in Protestant-managed and secular hospitals were not unlike the nuns they had replaced: single and in need of training and housing. …Continue reading “Housing Nurses and Nuns”