We will evaluate the consequences of all decisions made regarding the land in the context of our mission and we will be aware of the interrelated justice issues and the global implications.
Sisters of St. Joseph Land Ethic
History of Brentwood Property
Some of our Brentwood property was originally owned by the Phelps family, whose daughter married Robert Pearsall. Pearsall was a “serous-minded farmer” who “placed the land under cultivation” and also set twelve acres apart and built the chateau-like residence, the Pearsall mansion. The grounds were landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead. Pearsall died a year after it was completed. His son eventually sold the property to the men who became the developers of the Austral Hotel, and the Pearsall Mansion became the Brentwood Hotel. They went bankrupt, and the land and buildings were sold to the Sisters of Saint Joseph in February 1896, through the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The original hotels and cottages were immediately adapted to the Sisters’ use. The Brentwood Hotel/Pearsall Mansion, a two-story frame building, was the first residence of the Sisters and became known as St. Charles Cottage (named for Bishop Charles McDonnell’s patron). While the Mother House was still in Flushing, the Austral Hotel was used as a place of recuperation for ill Sisters since the “healthfulness of the pines” because of the “oxidation of the turpentine vapors” was considered beneficial. It was also used as a retreat center for diocesan priests. In 1903, the designation “Mother House” was transferred from Flushing. The Sisters then lived in the Austral and priests from St. Anne’s resided in St. Charles Cottage. There were also other houses on the property, one of which is now known as Medaille and was used as the infirmary for ASJ and known as St. Expedite’s cottage.
The Octagonal House was an original Modern Times house, the Dame House. William Upham Dame constructed his house as an octagon to allow more light in and to achieve greater space. It is amazing that a home from an 1851 short-lived community still exists today.
- March 1901: Groundbreaking of Academy building
- September 1903: Opening of the Academy of St. Joseph in what became known as the Elementary Building
- September 1903: That same year, the designation “Mother House” was transferred from Flushing.
- November 1913: Blessing of Main building
- March 1927: Groundbreaking for Sacred Heart Chapel
- January 1929: Opening of St. Joseph Convent as a residence for professed Sisters engaged in administration of the Congregation, in teaching at the Academy and nearby schools, and in other ministries.
- April 1933: Dedication of Sacred Heart Chapel
- September 1955: Opening of St. Joseph Novitiate and Brentwood College
- September 1955: Opening of Academy Gymnasium
- March 1960: The Austral was demolished
- July 1961: Our Lady of Grace Juniorate, built on the site of the Austral Hotel, opened as a residence for Junior Sisters attending Brentwood College
- 1968: Opening of Maria Regina Residence
- 2017 – 2018: Renovation of St. Joseph Convent (Building # 3)