History

St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Palatine is one of two homes operated by the Little Sisters in the greater Chicagoland area. The other is St. Mary’s Home in Chicago.  In 2016, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of St. Joseph’ Home in Palatine and 140 years of loving care to the needy elderly of the Chicagoland area.

Abraham Lincoln is said to have invited the Little Sisters to the United States out of concern that the Civil War would leave many elderly people without family, and indeed, several homes were founded on the East Coast in the 1860s.

In 1872, Holy Name and six other Catholic churches were destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire. Bishop Foley, the administrator of the Chicago diocese, dedicated himself to rebuilding these churches as well as the hospitals and orphanages that the fire had taken from the city. In 1874 he sent a written invitation to the superior general of the Little Sisters in France. Following his initiative, the first home was established in Chicago.
Two years later, six Little Sisters opened the Sacred Heart Home at 335 North Halsted Street. That home moved to 1255 Harrison Street in 1880.

A second home, St. Augustine, opened at 414 W. Chicago Avenue in 1882 and was moved to Sheffield and Fullerton Avenues in 1886. In 1891 the St. Joseph’s Home at 5148 S. Prairie Avenue became the third Little Sisters home in Chicago.


By the 1960’s, reform of national health-care standards paved the way for these three homes to close and two new facilities to open. The original Sacred Heart Home was closed in 1959 and many of the Residents were moved to St. Augustine’s. The original St. Joseph’s Home on Prairie Avenue closed in May of 1966 when our new home in Palatine was completed. 

Whatever our address has been, the mission of the Little Sisters of the Poor remains the same. We will continue to provide a loving home for the elderly poor.