Barnard Architects is honored to be working with Chatham County and Pioneer Construction to relocate Mother Mathilda’s historic home to the County Park on East Broad Street that bears her name, where the home will be renovated and used as an interpretative site to display and commemorate her life and work.
Mathilda was born in 1832 into slavery in New Orleans, gained her freedom and moved to Savannah in the 1860s.
In the 1880s, Mathilda became a pioneer within the Catholic Church when she went to England to train as a Catholic nun. Upon her return to Savannah she became known as Mother Mathilda, and later Mother Beasley, and Georgia’s first African-American nun. Mother Mathilda established an orphanage, the St. Francis Home for Colored Orphans, the first facility of its kind for African-American girls. Originally located near the Sacred Heart church, the orphanage started taking girls in 1887 and was moved in the late 1890s to East Broad Street, the site of the newly erected St. Benedict’s Parish. She operated the orphanage until her death at age 71 on December 20, 1903.
Mother Beasley devoted herself to bettering the lives of others in spite of great difficulties and her sacrifices improved conditions for the African-American population in Savannah. Her work continues through the Mother Mathilda Beasley Society.