Asa Waters as a Novitiate

The Asa Waters mansion has a multi-layered history, with its use as a residence for the famous Asa Waters family, its critical role in the Underground Railroad, and even for its architectural magnificence bestowing one of the finest examples of the Georgian Colonial style. This house took over two years just to assemble all of the specialty materials, which included hard pine from the South, mahogany from central America, bricks from Baltimore and marble from Italy. Pumpkin pine was brought in from Maine for the finishing work which had to all be painstakingly crafted by hand at the time of its erection in 1826-9.

However, this beautiful mansion, now owned by Millbury with curator Catherine Elliott handling its many programs and events with the Historical Society utilizing the second level, was also used as St. Brigid's Church Rectory for many years followed by use as a Novitiate by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1928, the mansion was purchased by St. Brigid's Church and used as its rectory until 1955 when a new St. Brigid's rectory was built on Main Street along with the new Church.

The Sisters of Mercy had been brought to Worcester from New York by Rev. John Power to work in Worcester's first public hospital, St. Elizabeth's, located on Shrewsbury Street. This hospital preceded Worcester City Hospital by seven years and the Mother Superior was Mother Jerome Shubrick. She was the daughter of the famed Admiral Shubrick of Civil War fame.

When City Hospital opened, St. Elizabeth's was turned into a market and a school teaching Irish immigrants at night. It was also used for a Sunday school and became an orphanage as well. Father Power became priest at St. Paul's in Worcester eventually taking the Sisters of Mercy with him. The orphanage then moved to St Gabriel's Orphanage on High Street in Worceseter which lasted many decades.

The Sisters of Mercy then set up a Novitiate in Leicester at the Nazareth Home before settling into the Asa Waters mansion along the Blackstone River for many years.

(This historical information was taken from Jack Frost's 1956 book on Worcester County's Roman Catholic Churches titled, The Church in Worcester, New England. It has a foreward by Bishop John Wright, whose name can be seen on many dedicatuion plaques throughout Worcester County as presiding Bishop in the 1950s.)




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