Janiva’s Blog: What the BA Isn’t

I’ve written a great deal about what the
Benevolent Association is. Sometimes you can
learn as much or more about an organization by
learning what it isn’t.

For instance, the BA isn’t:

  1. Mary Baker Eddy’s former residence in Brookline, Massachusetts
  2. Owned, operated and endowed by The Mother Church
  3. Open only to church members for Christian Science nursing
  4. Only for New Englanders
  5. A 90-year-old anachronism

Most people who have not lived near the BA, and even some who have, think that our Original Building was once the home of Mary Baker Eddy. It’s understandable. Both the Benevolent Association and Mrs. Eddy’s home are located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, but they are two completely separate properties. The BA is located within a few miles of Mrs. Eddy’s Chestnut Hill home and about four miles due west of The Mother Church. Here is a PDF of a Google map that shows both locations. Point “A” on the map is the BA and Point “B” is Mary Baker Eddy’s home at 400 Beacon St.

In 1908, Mrs. Eddy asked the Christian Science Board of Directors to vote on the adoption of a Church Manual By-law entitled “Christian Science Nurse” (Art. VIII, Sect. 31). In 1909, Mrs. Eddy corresponded with the Board of Directors about the need to found a facility that would provide care for those relying on Christian Science for healing. In 1916, the Directors announced, “Although temporarily delayed, this Board has not lost sight of its obligation to found this work for which the demand has so definitely and rapidly increased, but has only awaited the time which seemed right for carrying out the project” (Christian Science Sentinel, October 7, 1916).

They began construction of this facility on a piece of property donated by Mary Beecher Longyear of Brookline. Comprised of 24 acres of lovely woodlands, it was known as Single Tree Hill, and served as a well-known landmark for sailors in the 1600s. The property is also located near Chestnut Hill Reservoir which, with its park and roadways, formed one of Mrs. Eddy’s favorite drives. Construction was complete and the Benevolent Association was opened in 1919.

I’ll be blogging more on “What the BA is and isn’t,”  and you can check out additional information on the BA’s history at http://www.chbenevolent.org/. You are also invited for a tour of the BA whenever you are in the Boston area.

3 Responses to Janiva’s Blog: What the BA Isn’t

  1. Marion Harvey says:

    Good to have this misconception cleared up, Janiva! Several years ago when it was first announced that The Mother Church was offering Mrs. Eddy’s Chestnut Hill home for sale, and not too long after Tom and I came to work at the BA, we got a call from friends in a western state saying, “Will you be losing your jobs? They’re selling the BA!” We had to catch our breath for a moment, as we had not yet heard that the Beacon Street property was definitely being put on the market. Then we realized what must have happened and explained the difference to our relieved friends!

  2. pwoodsum says:

    Someone noticed recently that if you plug the BA’s address into Google Maps the map locator shows up somewhere near Fenway Park in Boston. Our address does sometimes confuse Google Maps, but the link below will take you to the accurate Google Map. Our location is actually a few miles west of Fenway Park in a beautiful part of Brookline in Chestnut Hill (just over 4 miles from The Mother Church).
    Here’s the link:

  3. Judi Baldwin says:

    Dear Janiva

    It was grand to have such a close-up view of the BA, where I spent 3 years doing my CS Nurses training. (1982-85)
    Thank you for the opportunity.

    Loving wishes

    Judi Baldwin

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