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About Us

History of the Mary Bryant Home

Historic photo of former Mary Bryant Home.

Mary Bryant - Childhood Years of Living with Blindness

Mary 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 forty miles west of Springfield. 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
Homeless Women

Historic image of resident on steps of former Mary Bryant Home.

The 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.

Historic photo of former stone residence.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
Fighting Blindness

In 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.

Mary Bryant Home sign in front of building

Administration of the Mary Bryant Home for
the Blind

Executive Director
Jerry Curry
jcurry@marybryanthome.org

Office Manager
Bobbi Hickey

Low Vision Store Manager
Sue Lederbrand
slederbrand@marybryanthome.org
lowvisionstore@marybryanthome.org

Activity Director
Misty Smith
msmith@marybryanthome.org

Board of Directors of the Mary Bryant Home for the Blind

President
Robert E. Maxey
Springfield, IL

Vice President
Allan J. Rupel
Springfield, IL

Secretary
Gary Rapaport
Springfield, IL

Treasurer
Joseph Brockamp
Springfield, IL

Trustees

Phil Brooks
Springfield, IL

Frank Darneille
Springfield, IL

Charles Nettles
Springfield, IL

Ayn Owens
Decatur, IL

Howard Thomas
Springfield, IL

Janice Thomas
Springfield, IL

Debbie Trammel
Springfield, IL

Tom Woolsly
Springfield, IL

Gayle Workman
Peoria, IL

ISVI Alumni Rep
Tom Watgen
North Aurora, IL

Mary Bryant Home
2960 Stanton
Springfield, IL 62703
Phone: 1-888-529-1611
Fax: 217-529-6975
e-mail: mbha@marybryanthome.org
www.marybryanthome.org

Member of American Council of the Blind and Illinois Council of the Blind


 
Copyright © 2008 Mary Bryant Home for the Blind. All Rights Reserved.