The Home and Hospital for Fallen Women opened in 1868 at 902 S. 12th St., a building known generally as the Judge John Taylor House.
The purpose of the Home and Hospital was described in 1871 in a pious, and discreet, entry in John Carroll Power’s History of Springfield, Illinois: Its Attractions as a Home for Business, Manufacturing, Etc. (The statement was written by one of the home’s anonymous benefactors.)
This place of refuge was found to be a necessity, by a few persons who had been led to visit the houses of sin in our city, to tell the glad tidings of salvation to those who had fallen, by their own and others’ sins, into this fearful and abandoned position.
“These girls, most of them young … now looked forward only to a life of increasing wickedness, dissipation, degradation, and a hopeless eternity.
During its first three years, the statement said, a half-dozen anonymous donors had voluntarily supported the home, to the extent that there had been no need to seek public contributions. A total of 180 women, most under age 20, had come through the home, and 55 children had been cared for there.
“A majority of those who have been members of our family are doing well, many of whom have been returned to their friends,” the statement said. “Several have married, and others are making good livings, in different occupations, by their own efforts.”
It is not clear when the home closed. It was succeeded in the Taylor House in 1901 by the Ambidexter Institute, an “industrial school” patterned on Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. The school remained in existence until 1908.
The Taylor House, built in 1857, was declared one of the 10 most endangered historic places in Illinois in 2004. As of late 2015, however, The Springfield Project had undertaken a major restoration effort.
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