History

According to Dorthy Davis in her History of Harrison County, The Sacred heart Children's Home opened as an orphanage in April 1928. An order of Catholic nuns from New Jersey, the Capuchin sisters, operated it. Its purpose was to "train children to accept their respective places in the future with daring courage and confidence." This quote probably came from the sister in charge of the home. The home was located on Hornor Avenue in Clarksburg, where it would remain, with a later, large addition, for more than forty years. The sisters lovingly cared for children from the age of two to eighteen, both boys and girls, so that siblings could remain together. Since their children attended public schools, the sisters made sure that they were appropriately dressed. They also oversaw church attendance with the children going to churches of their choice.

During the depression, about seventy-five children lived in the home. Later that number averaged forty-five. By the late 1960's, the number of residents had begun to dwindle because the State of West Virginia was placing children in foster homes. At the same time, only two or three sisters remained to care for the children, and they had reached retirement age. The order had no one to replace them. The last nun in charge of the home was Sister Angela, a dear, jolly soul, about as round as she was tall. Still, she made a commanding impression in her habit of rough brown cloth with a rope embracing her expansive middle. She was sad to leave her boys and girls, but she accepted that it was time to go.

Sometime earlier, a Mr. Koplegard made a donation to the orphanage that was well-known name in Clarksburg at one time, but there is no one remaining who can explain more about that. Later, Chesney Carney, a Clarksburg attorney, donated a rather large sum of money to the orphanage, to be used to benefit children of Harrison County. This was placed in a trust account along with the Koplegard donation and that provided some income for the home. This endowment and its purpose will become very important. Chesney Carney was memorable, witty, droll, interesting, and fun to listen to.

By the time the orphanage closed at the end of June 1970, the board of directors had incorporated as Sacred Heart Children's Center, Inc. with an eighteen member board serving two two-year terms and then leaving the board for at least a year. All board members are members of the corporation,  currently a group of around fifty.

This new board decided to establish a day car center in the building. Public school kindergarten was beginning that fall; previously the children of Clarksburg had attended privately-run classes. Jackie Moore, who had operated her own kindergarten, became the director of the new Sacred Heart Day Care Center.

It was a typical day care center: age appropriate activities in groups and individually; art; music; play time, lunch, snacks, and naptime. Eventually, they served breakfast as well. The meals were important because the atate subsiddized them and that provided some money for expenses. The center emphasized activities that encouraged interacting with other children and with adults. In addition to Mrs. Moore, there were five teachers, a cook, and a janitress. From 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., mothers or fathers could bring thier children, each time trudging up a long flight of steps to the entrance and then down again when they picked them up. Mrs. Moore is amazed that there were no bad tumbles on those steps.

Because the center had to be licensed by the state and received funding for the children who qualified for financial assistance (and many of them did), monthly board meetings became filled with discussions of complying with ever-increasing requirements. Even more frustrating was trying to deal with maintenance issues for the large older building. The day care center required o;nly a portion of the space that the orphanage had used and vacated it for the night. That had no influen ce with the Department of Human Services. Pete Oliverio, who did maintaenance at St. Mary's School, was the maintenance person. At times, the requests ovewrwhelmed him. Still. the state required an expensive sprinkler system and the electric had to be upgraded to accommodate other requirements. Even when a requirement did not apply, there was never any negotiation about it, either comply or be closed.