Bethesda Orphanage

Bethesda Orphanage

Bethesda Orphanage

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Bethesda Home for Boys was founded by evangelist George Whitefield, in the 18th century on his 500 acre (1,600 m²) land grant about south of Savannah, Georgia.

When Whitefield was just 25, he established the orphanage in the newly-founded colony of Georgia. Whitefield called the orphanage Bethesda, which means "House of Mercy", for he hoped many acts of mercy would take place there. On March 25, 1740, construction began on the orphanage buildings. The main house was two stories high with twenty rooms. Two smaller buildings were built behind the orphanage; one was designed to be an infirmary and the other a workhouse.

Whitefield wanted the orphanage to be a place of strong Calvinist influence with a wholesome atmosphere and strong discipline. Youngsters were taught trades so that they could earn a living as adults. Younger children learned spinning and carding, and all boys were taught mechanics and agriculture. Whitefield hoped that the orphanage would become the foundation of a university.

While the children grew most of the orphanage food, the enterprise was more expensive than anticipated, and Whitefield went into debt. Benjamin Franklin suggested that due to the scarcity of workmen and materials in Georgia, it might be better to move the orphanage and its children to Philadelphia. Whitefield refused to move the orphanage because his contributors donated money specifically for the Georgia project.

At his death, Whitefield bequeathed the orphanage to Lady...
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