History Unleashed – Saint Virginia, Part 2

shutterstock_59973502In 1911, Virginia Johnson had finally raised enough money to buy a permanent rescue home – eighteen acres of land in Oak Cliff at the corner of Paige and Madison streets.  A three-story brick home was built at a cost of $75,000, and included enough space to house 200 women, with a library, schoolrooms, dormitories, a gym, and chapel. The Virginia K. Johnson Home and Training Center for Women was finally a reality.

Any woman under the age of twenty-two who needed to remake her life was welcome, but she had to agree to stay for at least two years. Not only were the women given elementary education, but they received religious training, training in homemaking skills, and they could choose to learn a trade, such as dressmaking, hat-making, and nursing. The school even had a mock operating room for those receiving instruction in nursing and hospital service. Later, when it was acceptable for women to hold office jobs, they were trained in clerical work.

Within several years, the Johnson Home not only housed women from Texas, but from all over the South as well.

Local Dallas businesses kept the Home out of debt by donating food, supplies, and services.

Many of the residents who benefited from the Home’s training were able to return to their parents’ homes, enroll in high school or college, or secure jobs for which they’d been trained. By the time Virginia died in 1934, the Home had cared for 2,640 women and 1,460 children.

Saint Virginia had truly been a courageous woman who risked personal disgrace by rescuing and caring for society’s disreputable.

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