Fort Vancouver Tapestry

31. Mother Joseph's Academy

Landmark building of local brick

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Sponsored by: William F. Hidden
Roberta Foster
In 1856 Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart was chosen by Father Blanchet to lead a group of five Sisters of Providence to the Pacific Northwest Territories of the United States. Within a few years, their small group of buildings encompassed their residence, the novitiate, an infirmary, an orphanage for boys and girls, a boarding and day school, rooms for the elderly and insane, and the first St Joseph’s Hospital. The sisters also cared for the priests and bishops of St James Cathedral (pictured in panel 33) and visited the poor and sick in their homes. Mother Joseph was eventually responsible for the completion of eleven hospitals, seven academies, five Indian schools, and two orphanages throughout an area that today encompasses Washington, northern Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. 
In the early 1870’s Mother Joseph designed and built a permanent home, Providence of the Holy Angels, on property she had purchased earlier at Tenth and C Streets in Vancouver, WA. She designed the building, convinced a local family, the Hiddens, to start a brickyard and then laid those very bricks herself.  All of the sisters, boarders and orphans moved into the Sisters of Providence Academy in 1874.  Mother Joseph later built an addition to this building, but it essentially remains the same to this day. It is now privately owned.
The languages in the top border of panels 31 and 32 are American Sign Language and Braille. The schools for the deaf and the blind were established before statehood, and to this day, Vancouver houses the only state schools for the deaf and the blind.