Villa Maria Home for the Aged and Orphaned

Another of the great projects from unbuilt Windsor. This one was to be located in South Windsor, the original planned Villa Maria home for the aged and orphaned.

Here is a more refined rendering to go with the sketch above. News of the project appeared in the paper February 1, 1929, but was announced the night before, 82 years ago to the day.

    “Here is the architect’s drawing of the Villa Maria, new Roman Catholic institution which will be erected on a 21-acre plot in South Windsor this spring, and which will provide accommodation for aged and orphans of Essex and Kent counties. Plan for the structure which will be 50 percent larger than the new $1,000,000 St. Mary’s Academy, were announced to the Border Cities Star last night by Rt. Rev. M.F. Fallon, D.D., Bishop of London. The building will contain resident accomodation for 400 people and a large chapel, his Lordship stated. The sisters of St. Joseph will operate the institution.”

Plans for the unbuilt project were drawn up by Pennignton & Boyde.

A subdivision advertisement shows where the planned building was to have been located.

According to the article, the structure would have been situated on 21 acres, and was designed to serve the needs of Essex and Kent counties for the next 25 years. Even though it was never built there is still a Villa Maria Boulevard in South Windsor, which I suspect marked the southern end of the property.

Ground was broken on the main building, but why it was never built I don’t know. There were many ad’s for the fundraising drive for Villa Maria, but an article from April 1929 about the awarding of the contract for the excavation, had this to say:

    “We’re going right ahead” (John Boyde) stated. The contract let to National Pavers, Limited, he said, is for the excavation for the main building. Mr. Boyde states that construction work will be in progress by the middle of May.

    This week a drive for $500,000 is being carried on throughout Essex County to raise funds to defray the expenditure which will be entailed by by the construction of Villa Maria.

    “Regardless of the results of the drive,” Mr. Boyde said, “we are going to get started. The financing has already been arranged.”

Interestingly enough, Villa Maria eventually came to be, albeit much differently and in a different location. The Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph’s (who ran Hotel Dieu) website tells this story:

    The care of the elderly was a concern and in 1944 the R.H.S.J. purchased the Murphy Dwelling on Riverside Drive to accommodate 15 senior residents. The three Sisters who left Hotel Dieu to take charge of the home, then known as Saint John the Evangelist Home, and now called Villa Maria Residence were Sisters Maria Guévin, Catherine Renaud and Stella Tremblay. As the needs increased the Sisters purchased an adjacent residence that could provide care for an additional 27 people. In 1950, supported by a Diocesan Campaign, the Sisters bought a neighbouring house and provided care to an additional 15 residents.

    The three separate homes presented disadvantages and the decision was made to begin construction of a new seniors’s residence. The official opening of the Villa Maria residence was held September 23, 1956. The attractive two-story building on the shores of the Detroit River has a capacity of 120 beds. In 2003, the Ontario government decided to close Villa-Maria Residence.

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This building, now a student residence was the Villa Maria nursing home. It was also designed by J.C. Pennington. The history above also answers questions about this house, we looked at in July.

There are some amazing buildings that never came to be in the boom years of the late 1920’s.

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