History of the Mary Bryant Home
Mary Bryant - Childhood Years of Living with Blindness
Bryant was born on August 24, 1854, somewhere in sprawling Cook County,
Illinois, the exact location unknown. Mary grew slowly, a frail little
girl, and for the first nine years of her life had normal vision.
Then in 1863, the dreaded disease of scrofula struck and destroyed
most of her sight. The care of a sightless child was difficult for
people ill-equipped for such a serious task, but fortunately the
State of Illinois maintained the Illinois Institute
for the Education of the Blind High School, now Illinois Schools for
the Visually Impaired, at Jacksonville, just
In 1868, at the age of 14, Mary Bryant's name first appeared on the
roster of pupils at the school for the blind.
While very little
is known of her school life, in the school, one incident is
recorded. In 1869, when Mary was only 15, fire at the
school inadvertently cast her in the role of heroine. Capable of distinguishing
dark from light, Mary was able to evacuate the totally blind students
in the school, both boys and girls, thus saving their lives.
In 1869, the first class of students graduated from the Illinois Institute
for the Education of the Blind High School. Mary Bryant's name was
on the list of graduates for the second class in 1878. The report of
the school's superintendent on that class states that Mary Bryant was
graduated with credit to her self and honor to the Institution. The
report also states, Miss Bryant is prepared to teach music and as such
is recommended to the public.
Mary Bryant - Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
alumni association of the Illinois Institute for the Education for
the Blind at Jacksonville, Illinois, accepted the challenge left
them by their self-sacrificing friend. For a quarter of a century
thereafter, the association of the Mary Bryant Home committee worked
tirelessly to obtain additional funds. The efforts of the Mary Bryant
Home foundation came to fruition when the Mary Bryant Home for the
Blind opened in 1946, as the first safe haven for blind adult women,
at the corner of Fourth and Scarritt streets in Springfield, Illinois.
Mary Bryant Home for the Blind Expands to Provide Help for Blind Men
By 1947, more space was needed and the facility moved to a larger home
on East Lawrence Street. The hard-working association continued to
raise money to bring nursing services to the residents when needed,
and soon made plans to expand in order to accommodate blind and partially
sighted male residents.
In 1960, the local philanthropic Twenty-Five Club stepped in to help
raise funds to purchase, renovate, and equip a beautiful stone residence
at 1100 South Fifth Street that comfortably accommodated both blind
men and women for 23 years.
Located at 2960 Stanton was custom-built in 1983 to house up to 46
residents, who are blind and visually impaired, in a 26,000 square
foot state-of-the-art sheltered care facility, offering independent
living to it's residents.
Mary Bryant Home for the Blind Today - A Foundation
2004, the Mary Bryant Home for the Blind changed from a sheltered
care facility to a supportive living facility and was completely
remodeled to foster the move to increased independence for residents.
The new apartment style housing combined with personal care and other
activities allows residents to live independently and take part in
the decision-making. Personal choice, dignity, privacy and individuality
are emphasized at the Mary Bryant Home for the Blind.
of the Mary Bryant Home for
of Directors of the Mary Bryant Home for the Blind
Robert E. Maxey
Allan J. Rupel
ISVI Alumni Rep
North Aurora, IL