Swimming Pool at Goodhue Center, Staten Island, c. 1920
In 1912, Sarah Parker Goodhue donated her country estate on Staten Island to the Children’s Aid Society of New York. The Woodbrook estate had been built in 1840 by her father-in-law, Jonathan Goodhue, who planted 1100 trees on the site. Even before the 1912 bequest, the estate had always been open to city youth whenever the Goodhues were not present, but now it would be a full-time center for children (though the bequest stipulated that the Goodhues could still stable their horses there)
The Children’s Aid Society immediately established a summer camp and then an agricultural school. “Orphan trains” plucked street kids from Manhattan and brought them to Staten Island for medical care and school. They would be released to their families or to adoption agencies once they had gained the prescribed number of pounds. Bellevue Hospital sent children to Goodhue who were “at risk” for tuberculosis, so that they could get the requisite fresh air and sunshine.
Based on the clothing of the children in the cover photo, this photo was likely taken in the 1920s. A new swimming pool was built in the 1930s as part of the Public Works Administration.
The Goodhue Center continues to function today, with mental health services, foster care services, summer camps, after-school programs, swim programs and gardening classes. It celebrated its centennial in 2012.