EXCLUSIVE: Nuns selling Angel Guardian Home

On the block: The Sisters of Mercy are selling Dyker Heights’ block-sized Angel Guardian Home — a former orphanage, according to a local pol.
Brooklyn Daily
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This orphanage is up for adoption!

The Sisters of Mercy are selling Dyker Heights’ sprawling Angel Guardian Home. The nuns, who operated an orphanage there until the 1970s, can’t afford to keep up the city-block-sized campus, but they won’t need alms after the sale, a local pol joked.

“My assumption is that it’s worth a lot of money,” said Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Bensonhurs­t). “Every nun is gonna get a Mercedes. It’s gonna be the richest order around.”

An education advocate didn’t think it was a sin to covet the convent, considering the district is one of the city’s most overcrowded.

“I want that site,” said Laurie Windsor, president of the District 20 Community Education Council. “I’m putting it on my list. That’s a lot — a lot — of seats. I’m sending an e-mail to the [Schools Construction Authority] right when I get home.”

The grounds take up an entire block — roughly the area of three football fields — between 12th and 13th avenues and 63rd and 64th streets. The lot is zoned for rowhouses, and a developer could build up to three stories on the land, city records show.

Abbate added that he will petition the School Construction Authority to look at siting a school, and hopes the giant space will “maintain its purpose as a force of good in the community.”

“If we can get the city to buy it, it would be nice to put a couple of schools there maybe some senior housing in the area,” he said. “We could always use another regular junior high for zoned students and a grammar school.”

The nuns sold a piece of land on the other side of 64th street in 1989, and a developer built row houses there a year later, records show.

The Sisters built Angel Guardian Home in 1899, housing hundreds of children until the 1970s. The campus now houses the offices for the Sisters’ foster care program and a senior center. A Montessori school operated there until recently, Abbate said.

The order, called the Walking Sisters for their on-foot outreach, hung their habits at a Clinton Hill nunnery for more than a century before walking away in 2008 because they needed more than $20 million to fix their iconic-but-crumbling convent.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at
Updated 5:50 pm, July 9, 2018: Context added.
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Reader feedback

Me from Bay Ridge says:
What will happen to the popular thrift shop located in this building?
Feb. 12, 2016, 8:57 am
LTodd from Sunnyside says:
Please save that building!
Feb. 12, 2016, 11:10 am
Pauline Doll Castagna from Across the street from the land. says:
We want the Angel Guardian Home to stay. I will get a petition if nesscessary. This can not be sold.
Feb. 12, 2016, 3:37 pm
Paula Castagna from Across the street from the land. says:
We are here since 1949. Its a nice quiet block, and we want it to stay this way. We dont need any more strangers coming in and invading our property. Please think twice, before making the move.
Feb. 12, 2016, 3:39 pm
Jennifer Silverio from FiDi says:
I find Mr. Abbatte's comments at the beginning of the article rude and offensive. He should know better that Sisters take a vow of poverty, and at the rate that their numbers are dwindling, any funds the Order receives will probably go towards taking care of other charitable works, and caring for the elderly and infirmed Sisters who cared for so many children over the years. Shame on you, Mr. Abbatte, for a sorry attempt at levity.
Feb. 12, 2016, 5:21 pm
Al Graziosa from Gravesend says:
Thank you, Ms. Silverio for telling this Abbate guy what's up. Would he make the same joke to a Rabbi. No I don't think so!
Feb. 13, 2016, 3:17 pm
Joeybinky from Bay Ridge says:
I have fond memories of going to the Angel Guardian Home before Halloween for their pumpkin patch they'd have for children of the neighbourhood in the mid 1980's. I grew up on the next block on 64th street between 13th and 14th avenue. When I was very little that place was mysterious to me. Then my grandmother told me it was for orphans and if I didn't behave I'd go there. It seems like my old neighbourhood has become tree unfriendly. Build these complexes anywhere we can like a cross the street from the home in 1989. I remember there were little rabbits living in holes in the ground on that land. I trespasses on that land and found quiet beautiful comfort there with the trees blocking out the noise of 65th street and swing set meant to be the once playground for the orphans. Now all Chinese moving in. The Chinese believe a tree in front of their front door is bad luck and tear the tree out as they did the nice old tree my great grandfather planted when my old house was built. All I want is to go home again but there is no where to go home to anymore. Where I live now in the mid west everyone holds some kind of fund raiser. Why can't the neighbourhood hold a fund raiser to collect money for the repairs to that historical land so the nuns don't have to sell it to a bunch of Chinese contractors? No more homes built side by side with no room to fart and the neighbourhood certainly doesn't need any more schools where savage kids from east New York will attend as it was when I attended class there. There are already schools there. All the Catholic schools that closed their doors due to either high cost tuitions or just the fact that so many Chinese moved in and don't worship Catholicism. I'm very sad to feel like home isn't home anymore and I can never go back to the places I grew up.
Feb. 13, 2016, 4:51 pm
Christine Ricciardi from Bay Ridge says:
My brother and I were adopted from this home. I hurt to see this come to an end. It has a special place in my heart as my first home. Where do abandoned children go now? Is it possible to see this home still go on! I can not be bought by a contractor to be demolished and become a bunch of condo's. It is a special building that was blessed to help the orphan's left behind and the nun's that got these children homes. This is a sacred place to me and to anyone from there. Please let this be a place for God's work in some way. Thank you.
Feb. 13, 2016, 6:12 pm
b from gp says:
If the pro-lifers get their way in the coming election, maybe it should be turned back into an orphanage.
Feb. 14, 2016, 1:27 pm
Brigitte from New Haven, CT says:
I was there from March 13 to May 11, 1964. I remember it well; the garden, the high walls, the sound of children playing outside after school. My job was working in the laundry room. It was my first time away from home. I felt safe, yet terrified. I visited again in 2006, they said they there were no more "girls" staying there. That era ended shortly after I left. I have worked in the field of Women and Children for 15 years.
Feb. 15, 2016, 11:02 am
Pina from Bensonhurst/BayRidge says:
It is very sad to see what is happening to whole neighborhoods just disappearing!
With these 3 story buildings going up, it's changing the topigraghical look of Brooklyn! Gone are the friendly,openness of one and two family homes with gardening. Now it's just building after building....
Mini Manhattan :-(
Feb. 15, 2016, 3 pm
Disappointed Neighbor from dyker Heights says:
This building should have ben a land mark.
Hopefully they will continue charitable work.
The wealth of the community along with neighborhood parishes should have saved this property and the residency of the nuns.
Hope it will not turn into these typical institutional looking condos.
Feb. 16, 2016, 10:39 am
Marilyn Gerro Canarelli from formerly Bay Ridge says:
This building should be a land mark. I had volentered there when I was in High School. A beautiful place!

This is our history.
Feb. 16, 2016, 12:04 pm
Jeffrey from Dyker Heights says:
Please please please don't sell this iconic building.
Feb. 16, 2016, 3:55 pm
Lou Guida from Dyker Heights says:
I suggest the city renovate it and in respect to it's legacy make this a center for troubled women and pro-life orphanage. This is a landmark and a symbol of our culture that is remaining in Dyker Heights. Any and all decisions of its fate should be well thought out and not taken lightly.
Feb. 16, 2016, 4:05 pm
Christine ONeill from Orange County NY says:
Will my birth records be up for sale? I was born there & have been trying to get my info for years. I am turning 59 next week. Any info on Rita Ann Ricci, my name at birth, please contact me. Thanks!
Feb. 17, 2016, 12:54 pm
EmilyAnn Frances May from Bay Ridge says:
My Grandparents Josie and Sam Serrapede lived on 66th Street during the Great Depression. My Mom grew up and remembered hearing the children at play behind the high walls.

I hope a solution is reached.
Feb. 23, 2016, 6:46 am
Barbara Dillard from Long Island, NY says:
I am in absolute shock. I was a foster child who found a loving home thanks to the services of Angel Guardian home. I too have so many memories of visiting with my relatives in this building. Partaking in many of their holiday events and utilizing their services. This place was a major part of my childhood. They saved me!!! I am so saddened by the thought that it may not be there anymore. I pray that this is reconsidered and that God will intervene to restore this place so they can continue to do his work. I wish some investor would choose to invest in the future, which is our children! The amount of children and families that were touched and helped by the services at Angel Guardian home I'm sure are vast and the impact, immeasurable. God knows if I had the money I would absolutely "invest" to keep their mission going.
March 5, 2016, 11:32 am
Terri from Bensonhurst says:
I wonder if the nuns know how incompetent the people running it now are...and that's why their selling...
The foster care agency there is the worst!
April 12, 2016, 5:05 pm
Sister Ann Woodford, SC from Bellerose, Queens says:
Yet another example of how the general public still doesn't understand modern "nuns." The sisters of Mercy are not going to get Mercedes or any other luxury car from the sale of AGH. And we don't live in a nunnery- we live in convents or private residences.
Their mission will continuing and doing a fine job. I don't know what Terri from Bensonhurst is talking about. I worked at AGH for several years and found the staff to be dedicated to the children and the families it served. It's mission when I was there was to "create a community of care..." I think they did that and are still doing that. Foster Care is one of the more difficult field to work in and so I would cut them a little slack in the negative comments. I worked in Foster Care for over 10 years ans beleive I made a difference in some of the families lives. It will be sad to see the building go. It has been an iconic place for well over 100 years. I grew up in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst and I remember all the good work they have done over the years. Agh is part of a larger angency called Mercy
Ffirst , they have several campuses and offices in the City and in LI.
Mr. Abbate, please update your understanding of Sisters and the good works they do before you make a comment that is published in a Newspaper. We are not a joke!
April 13, 2016, 10:49 am
Pat Baumbach from Brooklyn says:
How sad!! My aunt Eleanor Baumbach was an administrator there for years , working w/ Sister Mercedes. Ellie was still working there w/ adoption services until her death in the mid 60's
April 14, 2016, 8:01 pm
Dolly Marconi from E. Williston, N.Y. says:
I became involved in Angel Guardian Home in 1960. I joined The Guild, chaired Fashion Shows, Days @'The Races @ thanks to Sister Mary Francene opened a Gift & Gift Shop. A wonderful group of volunteers helped me sort, hang up & sell donations. I loved every hour of the many years I spent there. A G H. Staff members were the best!!!! Elvira Baratta & Mary Ann Donelly the greatest! I feel another part of my life is being taken away from me. I will be 91 in July, and so little I loved is still with me. I keep in touch w Susters Mary Francene & Mercedes. My husband, Sal, started the A G H Open, a yearly golf day that also raised much needed money.
April 18, 2016, 1:56 pm
Rosemary Mangino from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn says:
I am a candidate for N.Y.State Assembly 49th District & first I would like to say Mr Abbares comments are disgraceful. He claims to be Catholic & jokes about a precious vow of poverty that these nuns have taken . He really dont know anything about being Catholic ! now what I would like to see is this property being named a landmark Or other ideas are for a part of the property a true womens healthcare facility that does Not provide or promote abortions another idea is a no kill pet adoption agency, there are not many of there in n.y.c. and none in the Bay Ridge ,Bensonhurst area.& also iI feel at least part of this facility should stay as an orphanage along with pro life adoption facility to help stop the crime of abortion
Aug. 8, 2016, 4:28 pm
zing from yer anus says:
Give me a break it's a building not a person
Aug. 24, 2016, 7:13 pm
Danielle from Queens says:
My Mother was left at Angel Guardian when she was born in October of 1961. Her mother went back to get her 9 months later. I wish I knew who cared for my mother all those months.
Nov. 4, 2016, 11:53 am
One of the orphans from My biological mom was from F.Rockaway says:
I was an orphaned infant at the Angel Guardian home from Feb 1964 until June 1964 (virtually the same period as the poster above described working there and described what a positive place it was). Hard to believe I was one of the babies she may have seen there. I know that my birth mother lived there with the nuns for her final months before she gave birth. Teen pregnancy was a shameful thing at the time and I can't imagine what she went through........ but clearly those nuns did alot of good for alot of people. My adoptive parents also adopted my brother from there, and still send the home cash donations every year at Christmas. Not so much the building, but the stories that took place inside the building are an important part of New York City history and absolutely must be preserved. What is going to happen to all the adoption records for all of these people? It is crucial that they be properly preserved
Dec. 18, 2016, 1:06 pm
carol nylen says:
What will happen to the records of the children that lived there ? My Mother was one . I have tried many times to obtain her records . She had 5 other siblings all processed thru there around 1915 . Even tho all are gone .They still would not release any infomation.
Jan. 14, 2017, 6:52 pm
Rose Kurtz from Gravesend says:
Does anyone know where the records of this institution were taken (or destroyed?). My family members are deceased and I would like to have some information as to my being there in youth with my brother.
Oct. 25, 2017, 11:22 am
Dolly from Colorado says:
After reading all the comments, it is my suggestion that perhaps people should donate money to the nuns to keep this place open for the children. There are a lot of things a person can do to raise money. So rethink your sale of the building, please.
Feb. 9, 10:56 am
Nan Cooney from Garden City, Ny says:
The Sisters of Mercy cared for me in Angel Guardian Home & also in Syosett - 10/50. I thank them to my soul. Abandoned by my Irish parents who went home for the shame of me. Adopted by wonderful parents who always made me aware I was loved. NYC gal born & bred.
My daughters researched & found my 5 younger brothers from Donegal. We have connected & many times Ireland or here.
April 21, 10:45 pm

Comments closed.

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