Eunice (Nichols) Frye (1852-1923) founded the Women’s Literary Union (site S23) in Portland in 1889 and the Maine Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1892, which later affiliated with the national General Federation of Women’s Clubs. (Portland no longer has a chapter.) She said that women needed to keep their minds busy, an observation she developed while working at the Bloomingdale (NY) Asylum, where her brother was managing physician.
Eunice and her husband George were passionate about philanthropy, particularly in the care of women. Eunice was president of the Wayside Rest or Home for Worthy Women for 25 years. The home went through a succession of name changes, including the Portland Invalids’ Home and the Mary Brown Home for Women. Mary Brown began the home in 1894 with a cottage on Peaks Island, then relocated to Revere Street in 1895. She built a new home on Capisic Street in 1903. George Frye made a substantial donation to the home on the condition it be renamed the Eunice Frye Home. It later became an assisted living facility until September, 2002, when it ceased to operate. It was subsequently sold to the Sisters of Mercy and is now the Frances Warde Convent, a residence for elderly nuns.
Mary Francis Xavier Warde (1810-1884), who with five other nuns (including Catherine McAuley) immigrated from Ireland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the request of Bishop O’Connor, who wanted to build a foundation for his diocese, and established the Sisters of Mercy in the United States. Under Mother Warde’s direction and leadership, several hospitals and homes were opened, along with free schools. One of her last works was to open an Old Ladies’ Home and a Young Ladies Academy in Portland, then Deering, Maine. By the time of her death in 1884, the Sisters of Mercy established over 82 convents, schools, hospitals, and orphanages in 20 cities across nine states. The Sisters of Mercy purchased the Eunice Frye Home as a residence for elderly nuns and renamed it in honor of Mother Warde.