San Mateo County History
Bishop Armitage Orphanage
San Mateo County


Work Accomplished by the Bishop Armitage Orphanage at San Mateo--Donations by Public-Spirited Citizens--An Appeal to the Charitable.

The Bishop Armitage Orphanage was opened at San Mateo in November, 1886, for the purpose of caring for destitute and orphaned children. The accommodations provided were soon found inadequate to the requirements, and an addition was made to the original building, so that now the property is valued at $5,000. Thirty-six children are provided with a comfortable home and instructed by competent and devoted women, and still more room is needed, within a short time twenty applicants having been denied admission on account of lack of accommodations. The work is not confined to the limits of a parish, but is intended to be far-reaching, and already they have one child in the orphanage from Kansas, one from the Sandwich Islands, several from Mexico, one from Armenia and others from different parts of the State. Two contributions of State money have already been earned.

To provide more room and enlarge its scope of usefulness, a plot of four acres has been purchased in the suburbs of San Mateo, on which stand a commodious dwelling and out-buildings. George W. Gibbs has subscribed $2,500 and another friend of the movement $500 with which the first payment has been made, and possession will be taken on January 1st, but it is necessary to raise $3,000 more in order to place the institution out of debt. To do this the ladies forming the Boards of Trustees will canvas the city during the holidays and solicit subscriptions from the business men. The Board consists of Mrs. A. L. Brewer of San Mateo, President; Mrs. R. B. Sanchez, Mrs. Randall Hant[sp?], Mrs. P. I. Asbury, Mrs. S. P. Anthony and Mrs. Cornelia R. Nokes--all of San Francisco.

Contributions of provisions, fruits, clothing and everything that would be useful about a home will be most acceptable, and in this connection it is stated that Wells, Fargo & Co.'s express will transport supplies free of charge to the Armitage at San Mateo. The express company has generously performed this service ever since the establishment of the institution. Donations should be addressed to "Sister Anna, Matron, Bishop Armitage Orphanage, San Mateo." The address of the Treasurer, Mrs. J. G. Clark, is 1101 Green street, corner Leavenworth, and contributions of money may be sent to her.

Source: San Francisco Evening Bulletin, 20 December 1888, page 1.

... One of the interesting institutions of San Mateo in the early days was known as Laurel Hall. It was a school for "Young Ladies and Little Girls," situated about one mile south of San Mateo and one-half mile west of the county road. Mrs. L. A. Buckmaster-Manson, the proprietor, began Laurel Hall in 1864. Prior to that she had been in public schools and seminaries of Vermont and New York. She arrived in San Francisco in 1856 and taught in various places until she settled in San Mateo. Coming from Sacramento where she was employed she purchased twenty-seven acres of land from D. S. Cook at one hundred dollars per acre. She then secured a loan without interest and erected a boarding school which in May, 1864, was opened with eleven pupils. Later she added a gymnasium to the property. In 1871 Mrs. Buckmaster-Manson had trouble in renewing her loan. She, therefore, appealed to some of the wealthy people of the section and a number of public minded citizens donated different amounts and were then known as founders or donors of the school. In 1875 Rev. E. B. Church assumed management of the school, remaining two years until June, 1877, when Rev. George H. Watson and Mrs. Watson, of Freehold, New Jersey, became the successors. In July, 1878, Mrs. Buckmaster-Manson again resumed the responsibility of the institution. The school flourished for a few years when it suspended operations. The property was then acquired by the Episcopal Bishop of San Francisco and the Armitage Orphanage was conducted on the property until 1912, when it was closed. ...

Source: History of San Mateo California, by Roy W. Cloud, Volume 1, 1928, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, Ill., pages 149, 150.

Photograph Source: San Mateo Public Library. December 1888. <>

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